An Introduction to the PMI-ACP® Exam

Do you use Agile practices, tools, and techniques in your projects? Do you belong to an organization that is in the process of adopting or is already implementing projects using the Agile philosophy, methodologies, principles, and practices?  Do you want to demonstrate your expertise in Agile practices, tools, and techniques? Then you may be ready to take the next step and become a PMI® Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) ®.  Before you begin there are a few vital things you should understand, such as the eligibility requirements to apply for the PMI-ACP® exam, the application process, and what to expect when sitting for the exam.

There are four areas of requirements that must be met in order to be eligible to take the PMI-ACP® Exam. The first is to have a secondary degree, such as a High School Diploma, Associate’s Degree or global equivalent. The second is to have and to be able to document at least 2,000 hours of general experience working on project teams. This general project experience must have taken place within the past five years and is project experience that is not necessarily Agile-related. Already having an active PMP® or PgMP® certification will satisfy this general project requirement without additional documentation. The third requirement is that you must be able to document at least 1,500 hours of experience working on Agile teams or using Agile methods in the past three years. The final requirement is that you must earn at least 21 contact hours covering Agile-related topics, which may include; Agile philosophy, methodologies, principles, or practices. These hours must be earned before you are scheduled to sit for the exam.

If you still need to earn your contact hours this can be accomplished through a variety of sources, including; a PMI Registered Education provider, a PMI Chapter, a PMI Community of Practice (CoP), individual employer/company training programs, professional training companies, and a variety of schools or universities. Visit  for more information to determine if a specific program qualifies to satisfy the necessary contact hours to sit for the exam.  Most of them do, as long as there is an end-of-course assessment whose results can be documented. Two things to remember when it comes to contact hours are that one hour of training equals one contact hour, and that each contact hour must focus on Agile-related topics.

The application for the PMI-ACP® exam can either completed online at or it can be downloaded and submitted by mail. If you select to apply online you will have 90 days to complete the application process. The process time for an online application is generally 10 days, whereas if you elect to complete a paper copy it can take up to 20 days to process, in addition to the time it takes to reach PMI®.

Before you start the application process, make sure you meet the eligibility requirements as previously described above and that can document how you meet the requirements. There are a couple of things to keep in mind when documenting both your general project experience hours and your Agile project experience hours. First of all, you cannot claim the hours from the same project for both general project experience and Agile project experience. In other words, the 2,000 hours of general project experience and the 1,500 hours of Agile project experience have to be mutually exclusive. Secondly, the experience you document cannot be overlapping. For example, if you worked on a project during the months of January, February, and March and another project during the months of March, April, and May, you can only count five months of experience (January through May) not six because the projects overlapped in March. The 21 contact hours in the area of Agile practices can be earned in a variety of ways as mentioned above and each provider should provide documentation proving you have successfully completed each hour of education. Also, as part of the application process you will be required to read and agree to the PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct and the Certification Application/Renewal Agreement.

Keep in mind as you complete the application process that there is a possibility that your application will be selected for an audit. PMI randomly audits all applications received and it is therefore very important that you keep a copy all of your experience and contact hour documentation until you have at least received notification that you are eligible to take the PMI-ACP® exam. If you are selected to be audited you will have 90 days to submit audit materials, and the audit process usually takes 5-7 days.

Once your application is reviewed and accepted, and you have paid the application fee you will have one year from the date of acceptance to take the PMI-ACP® exam and you are allowed up to three attempts to pass within that year. The PMI-ACP® exam consists of 120 multiple-choice questions that need to be answered in three hours. The questions on the exam are equally divided between the topics of Agile Tools and Techniques, and Agile Knowledge and Skills. Computer-based testing is the standard method for taking the PMI-ACP® exam. However, a paper-based test can be made available for special circumstances. There is also a tutorial you can take before starting the exam to help you gain familiarity with how to take a Computer-Based Exam. One thing to remember is that there are no scheduled breaks during the exam, so if you elect to take a break the clock on the exam continues to run. Also, at this time the PMI-ACP® exam is only offered in English and language aids are not available.

Obtaining your PMI-ACP® certificate demonstrates to others your knowledge of Agile practices, tools, and techniques. Make sure you understand PMI’s most recent requirements to qualify to take the exam and go to for additional information about the PMI-ACP® exam and the exam process.

By Cornelius Fichtner, PMP – Making the PMBOK® Guide fun

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