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Top tips on passing the project management qualification

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Do you feel worried about undertaking your project management qualifications? There is no need to worry. This blog is going to take you through some top tips that will help you revise and prepare. As an apprentice project manager who has successfully passed the APM Project Management Qualification (PMQ) in May 2019, I can provide some invaluable advice from an apprentice’s perspective that can assist you when revising for the PMQ.

Here are my golden tips:

Revise weekly

As an apprentice you are entitled to 20 per cent of your working week dedicated to off-the-job learning. Throughout my apprenticeship I used this time to complete various project management learning activities and tasks on the online learning portal. However, once you’ve completed the curriculum, that time can be used to revise: have a day set aside for revision or split your 20 per cent learning time across the working week. This time is invaluable when it comes to preparing for the PMQ exam, it can be easy to fill out your diary with work related meetings and tasks so ensure you block out time for dedicated revision in your diary. I started to prepare for my exam around three months before I was due to take it which gave me plenty of time, however the exam date approaches sooner than you think...

A quiet place to revise

When you’re revising in the workplace it’s a good idea to try and find a separate room away from the working environment. I used one-to-one rooms that were situated around the office, but you can use any sort of secluded room depending on your workplace. If you choose to revise at your desk, there are a whole host of distractions: work colleagues asking you work related questions; noise levels; your work computer being easily accessed, etc. This can be avoided by revising in a separate room away from the hustle and bustle. This will add more value to your revision sessions as you will have your complete focus. I used the APM Project Management Qualification Study Guide frequently when revising, it’s always more effective to read this in a quite place (embedding the theory) so then you are ready to tackle the activities in the book. It may sound obvious and simple, but it’s something that really helped me crack on with revision.

Make time wherever you can

Do you commute to work via public transport, why not have a read through of cue cards on your way to work? Do you have a quick 10 minutes in between meetings? This is another opportunity to embed the APM knowledge for the exam. Whether it’s glancing at a cue card, or going through the study guide, make idle time, study time.

Cue cards

Creating cue cards helps revision and using them as a tool throughout the revision period is a practical and efficient way to revise for the PMQ exam. They can be used in almost any environment and are a great way to do a quick bit of revision whether it’s on the go or in the office. As most APM processes are split into four to five different sections, I created a cue card for each APM process section. For example, ‘Initiation’ in the APM project life cycle was on one cue card, explaining through bullet points what that part of the process was. Then I had another cue card explaining the summary of the overall process. I’d recommend creating these as early as possible as they can be used repeatedly and I’m sure they’ll be an important part of your revision toolkit.

These are my golden tips on surviving the APM examinations, highlighting the importance of having a quiet place to revise whilst using cue cards to embed the APM process knowledge. Do not underestimate the examination, leave plenty of time to revise and prepare for it, if you do then you will find yourself more comfortable and confident when taking the exam. I wish you the best of luck with your project management examinations and I’m sure you’ll come out with some top marks, showing the business you work for that apprentices are more than capable of carrying out and passing professional qualification while working hard in the office.

Not sure what to do after school? Read more about how I went from sixth form to apprentice project manager here.


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