Here is the second article in our guide to passing the PRINCE2 Foundation exam. The guide has been written to assist individuals studying our online PRINCE2 CBT courses, as well as anyone else who is interested in the PRINCE2 project management method and PRINCE2 qualifications.
With our PRINCE2 training expertise, we know that familiarising yourself with the style of the exam is crucial to exam success. The focus of this article is therefore the exam’s structure and format.
Structure of the exam
The structure of the PRINCE2 Foundation exam is as follows:
- Question booklet and answer sheet
- 75 multiple-choice questions
- 1 hour duration
- Closed book
- Pass mark of 35/70 (i.e. 50%)
Candidates often feel reassured when they realise that essay-writing is not required during the exam. For each question, you simply need to select what you think is the correct answer from a list of 4 options (labelled a, b, c, d), and then indicate your choice on the answer sheet. To do so, you shade in (with a pencil) the oval that contains the letter corresponding to your answer.
If the exam contains 75 questions, why is the total number of marks available only 70? The reason is that 5 of the questions are ‘trial’ questions, used to help the exam board test new question styles, and the remaining 70 questions each carry 1 mark. The trial questions will not be identified in the question booklet, and so you should aim to give equal attention to all of the questions.
Exam question styles
The PRINCE2 Foundation exam questions are normally short and to the point; it should be clear to you what particular subject is being addressed by each one. The questions discuss PRINCE2 in a general way, rather than in relation to a specific project scenario. You are not asked to apply your knowledge of PRINCE2 to a particular project; instead the focus of the exam is on understanding how PRINCE2 works in theory.
The example questions below are not official Foundation exam questions (we provide the official sample exams as part of many of our training courses); nevertheless they should give you a general impression of the format and style of the real questions. For example, you might see a question similar to the following:
Q. Which management product contains the information about the risks identified during a project?
- a. Risk Management Strategy
- b. Risk Register
- c. Issue Register
- d. Configuration Item Records
If you revised the structure of the management products before the exam, you should be able to deduce relatively quickly that option b is the correct answer.
Sometimes the questions might require more thought. Consider the following as an example of a more complicated question:
Q. Which of the following tasks form part of the product-based planning method?
- i. Writing the Product Descriptions
- ii. Creating a product flow diagram
- iii. Designing the plan
- iv. Creating the product breakdown structure
a. (i), (ii) and (iii)
b. (ii), (iii) and (iv)
c. (i), (ii) and (iv)
d. (i), (iii) and (iv)
For this question, you need to read through statements i-iv, decide which refer to tasks included in product-based planning, and then select the appropriate answer (i.e. option c). If your knowledge of PRINCE2 is rather weak, a question like that could slow you down considerably during the exam. As you can see, the ability quickly to recall facts about PRINCE2 (e.g. who is responsible for approving Exception Plans, when the Lessons Report is produced, etc.) will stand you in good stead for exam success.
Thorough revision is very important for the Foundation exam, because candidates are not permitted to refer to the PRINCE2 manual or any other materials when answering the questions. If you find it difficult to remember things, try colour-coding or highlighting parts of your revision notes, as this may make the task of remembering easier.
While the exam is very thorough, be encouraged by the fact that 50% is a very reasonable pass mark. Pass rates for candidates sitting the Foundation exam are often very high; for example, approximately 99% of our students achieve the Foundation qualification.
Effective exam preparation
A training programme, such as an accredited PRINCE2 eLearning course, can be the ideal way of preparing effectively for the PRINCE2 Foundation exam.
See the next article in the series: ‘Passing the PRINCE2 Foundation exam – Part 3’, in which we will discuss how to answer the exam questions.