How to pass PRINCE2 Foundation: some tips from Ekaterina Ivicheva

In August 2020, the events involving COVID-19 affected the business of the company I was working for at the time, and as a result, I started making preparations for a job search. After I read an article describing successful PRINCE2 Practitioner examination, I decided that I needed to obtain this certificate.

On the AXELOS website, I began to read about PRINCE2 — the certification options and ways of taking the test, following which my first step was to obtain PRINCE2 Foundation.

What is needed for PRINCE2 Foundation?

In short, in this case one has to know the basics, namely, the terminology, principles, subjects and processes of the methodology.

PRINCE2 Foundation exam format

60 multiple choice questions;
— The duration of the exam is 60 minutes for a native speaker; non-native speakers of English are given 75 minutes (+25% extra time);
— It is necessary to score 55%, which means 33 correct answers out of 60 questions;
— During the exam, you cannot use the book Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2.

What is the point of passing PRINCE2 Foundation?

This certification confirms that:
– The candidate can act as a well-informed member of a project management team in the context of PRINCE2;
– The candidate is admitted to the PRINCE2 Practitioner examination;
– The candidate is allowed to take the PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner;
– The candidate shows the employer their intention of enhancing their proficiency in project management;

It's also worth noting that this certification does not need to be renewed.

Preparation for PRINCE2 Foundation

I started revising for the test in August, and as I was looking for a job, my goal was to pass the exam as soon as possible. The total reading period took 5 weeks: 2-3 hours every day.

I used the following materials:
Video course on PRINCE2 Foundation; I watched only 30% of it;
— I purchased a training course on PRINCE2 Foundation on udemy. Then I performed 2 tests out of 4 with a result of 60% and gave up. I felt like the questions were advanced and were hardly related to the exam. That's just the way it turned out to be later. Maybe if you treat the course as supporting materials rather than the basis of preparation, it'll give an added boost of confidence before the exam;
PRINCE2 wiki;
— PRINCE2 Foundation Training Manual by Frank Turley. I received it after I had already registered for the exam, and this was 8 days before the exam. In total, I had only a week to read the book. Very useful material, by the way;
— Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2® — I didn't read all of it, but some parts on particular topics, processes and principles.

Lessons learned about the exam preparation:
1. If it is possible to buy both the course and the exam, seize this opportunity, it will really save your time.
2. Instead of the course from udemy, I would rather use a simulator. This site has a free lite version with 120 questions, and the full version of the simulator is available after purchasing the course. Looking ahead, I used a different version of the simulator to prepare for Practitioner, and it's very useful and effective. I recommend it.
3. Book the date more than a week before the exam. In this case, if any supplementary materials come up, you will have time to look through them.
4. I was lacking the opportunity to ask questions about the PRINCE2 manual, so I concluded that I would look for a community to help me pass Practitioner (I should have asked Frank right away, there's a community on FB).
5. There is an introductory version of the exam on the Axelos website, use it in your training.

Passing the exam

Here I just followed the instructions that the exam organizers sent me well in advance.

BE SURE to prepare a passport or any other ID with a photo and date of birth in advance, in my case it was an international passport. It was needed during registration/when signing up.

BE SURE to download the exam application in advance and test the system against the minimum requirements on the device that will be used for the exam.

There were some individual requirements regarding the room organization and the things allowed on the table. I was sitting for the exam at the dinner table with a laptop, 2 blank sheets of paper, a pencil, a phone and a mug of tea on it.

I launched the application 10 minutes before the start of the exam. At this stage, I had to bring my ID to the laptop camera for identification and fill in the required fields (everything is intuitive). Then the proctor joins the video call and reminds everyone of the rules and options available during the exam.

Then the proctor will ask you to show the room and rotate the laptop 360 degrees. If he/she gets interested in something, you'll have to show it in more detail. In my case, I showed that the sheets of paper on the table were blank on both sides.

When the countdown began, I was sure that the allocated time would be enough for me. I took the exam in English, at a moderate pace and it took me 70 minutes to complete it. As soon as the exam is over, the proctor announces and displays the preliminary result of the exam, which shows the total percentage, result, general statistics on subjects and the number of correct and wrong answers.

I received the certificate the next day after the successful examination.

Why is PRINCE2 Foundation valuable?

1. Confidence in project management, I obtained principles and tools that could be put into practice;
2. The number of responses from hr and invitations to the next interview stages increased by 2-3 times;
3. The nature of interviews became different, there were fewer behavioral and abstract questions;
4. I got a job offer 4 weeks after passing the exam.

In the next article, I've described my experience of taking the PRINCE2 Practitioner examination.