PRINCE2 Agile: Is It Worth It, and How to Pass the Exam
PRINCE2 Agile is an extension of the PRINCE2 method, tailored to an Agile environment.
Given that PRINCE2 is one of the most popular certifications today, does the same go for PRINCE2 Agile? Is it a certification you should obtain?
PRINCE stands for “Projects in controlled environments”. “Controlled” is associated with “strict, pre-defined”, and Agile is the opposite of that. How could PRINCE2 be Agile?
That’s what we’ll discuss today.
- How do the PRINCE2 method and the Agile approach gel together?
- Should you pursue the PRINCE2 Agile certification?
- How to prepare for and successfully pass the certification exams.
PRINCE2 vs. PRINCE2 Agile: what’s the difference?
PRINCE is a project management method originally created in response to the UK government’s request in the 1980s and was meant for managing IT projects.
In the PRINCE2 exam preparation guide, there are more details about the origins of the PRINCE2 method and the Axelos organization.
In 1996, PRINCE2 had a major update that made the method more versatile and easier to tailor to various kinds of projects and industries.
With the rise of Agile frameworks and approaches since the early 2000s, it eventually became apparent that most software projects use adaptive, iterative approaches. PRINCE2 originated from IT, but to be relevant to modern software development, it had to keep in step with the times.
In 2015, Axelos introduced PRINCE2 Agile: the interface between the PRINCE2 method and the Agile approaches and ways of working.
How PRINCE2 Agile tailors the PRINCE2 method
The core principles of the PRINCE2 method stay the same, but it’s interpreted through the Agile lens, using the approaches, mindsets, and techniques characteristic of Agile.
Some of the Agile approaches of PRINCE2 Agile:
- Self-organizing teams
- Agile mindset
- Using iterations (within the defined product stages)
- Lean thinking
PRINCE2 Agile vs. Scrum
Scrum is a lightweight framework for project management, defined by a core set of roles, principles, events, and artifacts.
Scrum is but one of the frameworks that can be applied within the PRINCE2 Agile method.
Some other frameworks and approaches that can be used are Kanban, DevOps, and SAFe.
Techniques like Scrum and Kanban are used on the delivery level. On top of this level, there are Management and Direction levels from the original PRINCE2.
Related: Is the Scrum Master role a good fit for me?
PRINCE2 Agile and the Cynefin framework
One of the concepts PRINCE2 Agile highlights is the Cynefin framework for decision-making.
Cynefin defines several types of systems depending on how direct the relationship between the cause and effect is. In order of loosening the relationship, the domains are: Obvious, Complicated, Complex, and Chaotic.
Understanding which domain you’re in helps with determining the next step and the overall strategy.
The Cynefin framework is used in the Starting Up a Project and Initiating a Project processes to determine the complexity of the project and whether the classical PRINCE2 method or an Agile framework should be used for implementation.
Related: What the Cynefin framework is and how to apply it?
Is PRINCE2 Agile certification worth it?
My personal stance is that getting a professional certification is worth it, first and foremost, because preparing for the exam is a great challenge that gives you insights and improves your professional skills.
But you could reap the benefits of learning without actually going through with the exam. The exam voucher costs a considerable amount of money, so the question is: will the investment pay off?
If you already work in an organization that uses the PRINCE2 method, there’s a chance that your employer will pick the costs of training and examination for your PRINCE2 Agile certification.
But if you’re the one bearing the costs, you’re probably asking: “Will the PRINCE2 Agile credential increase your chances of landing a new job or getting a promotion?”
Since the “hardware”, the basis of PRINCE2 Agile is the PRINCE2 method, it would be in demand in an organization where the method is in use.
If you’re looking for an Agile certification to enhance your resume and employability, check how many of the jobs you’re interested in mention PRINCE2 or PRINCE2 Agile.
If they’re barely brought up, you should probably get a more versatile certification, like Professional Scrum Product Owner by Scrum.org or Certified Associate in Project Management (yes, CAPM by PMI also became more Agile since 2023).
However, if you already work or plan to work in an environment that uses the PRINCE2 method, especially if it’s related to product development, getting a certification would be beneficial.
Should I get the PRINCE2 Agile Foundation or Practitioner certification?
If you’re planning to obtain PRINCE2 Agile Foundation as a prerequisite for PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner, remember that it’s not the only option. There are other credentials that satisfy the requirements – see the list in the prerequisites section below.
All things considered, if you’re looking into getting a PRINCE2 credential, aim for the Practitioner-level one.
When the Foundation-level certifications didn’t have to be renewed, you could obtain a prestigious Axelos credential that would enhance your resume for years to come. But if you have to renew every 3 years anyway, it makes sense to invest in a higher-level credential.
PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner prerequisites
PRINCE2 Agile Foundation doesn’t have any prerequisites.
To be eligible for the PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner exam, you need to have a current, active credential from the list below.
If you don’t provide a credential to PeopleCert, you could still use your voucher and pass the exam, but the results will be withheld until you present proof of current certification.
These active certifications fulfill the prerequisite requirements for PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner:
- PRINCE2 Agile Foundation. This credential used to be non-expiring but moved to a 3-year renewal cycle in 2023.
- PRINCE2 Foundation or Practitioner.
- Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) or PMP by Project Management Institute (PMI).
- International Project Management Association (IPMA) levels: A, B, C, or D.
If you’re at the point of considering the PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner certification, you almost certainly have another active PRINCE2 certification, so you won’t be torn between the choices here.
But if you happen to not have a prerequisite credential yet, my suggestion is the same as for PRINCE2: go with CAPM. It also validates the knowledge of both traditional project management and Agile, with a recent shift towards the latter.
This way, you’ll gain more information and insights as you prepare for the two exams. And in the end, you’ll have credentials from both of the most influential certifying bodies in the world.
Related: How to prepare for the CAPM exam by PMI.
PRINCE2 Agile preparation and certification costs
The default method of obtaining the credential is to take a training course followed by an exam, bought as a single package. You could also buy the exam separately. Let’s look at the options.
PRINCE2 Agile exam costs on PeopleCert
All Axelos certifications are issued by PeopleCert. The exam fees are region-based: the certification page will detect your country based on your IP and show the price for that country.
On average, the PRINCE2 Agile exam price is around $600 for Practitioner and a few dozen dollars less for Foundation.
To see the fee specific to your location, check the PRINCE2 Agile certification family page on PeopleCert for the most up-to-date pricing.
Buying the PRINCE2 Agile certification exam voucher from a training provider
You could also buy exam vouchers from accredited training providers.
The fee will most likely be smaller than buying directly from PeopleCert because providers have discounts.
If you buy the standalone exam, the price is about ¼ less than what you would pay for the package that includes the training course and the exam.
Are PRINCE2 Agile exams hard?
PRINCE2 Agile exams consist of multiple-choice questions. Each question has only one correct answer, though the answer itself might encapsulate a few statements.
To pass the PRINCE2 Agile Foundation, you need to get 28 answers out of 50 correctly (55%).
The pass mark for PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner is 60%, or, 30/50 correct answers.
Taking the following into account, the PRINCE2 Agile exams are relatively easy:
- Both exams present a very detailed syllabus with references
- Both exams have a full sample paper with 50 questions, giving you a good idea of what the exam experience would be like
- 1 question = 1 answer. You won’t be asked to “select all that apply” and missing something or getting one of the options wrong and losing points for the whole answer
- The pass mark isn’t high
However, the exams are only straightforward if you’ve done a good deal of preparation.
But if you were methodical with your studying and researching the topics from the syllabus provided by Axelos, you could be confident that you’ll pass the exams successfully.
Are PRINCE2 Agile exams open book?
The PRINCE2 Agile Foundation exam is testing the knowledge of the concepts. Since the questions are answered in the manual directly, the Foundation exam is closed book.
The questions of the PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner exam are based on a provider scenario and require the processing and interpretation of the concepts.
The Practitioner exam is open book. You could use the printed copy or an eBook version of the PRINCE2 Agile Guidance or your Official Core Guidance eBook for reference.
Books and tactics to prepare for the PRINCE2 Agile exams
For an in-depth look into exam-taking strategies, check my guide to passing a certification exam on the first try.
There’s a dedicated manual, PRINCE2 Agile Guidebook (available on Amazon UK, on Amazon US, and from other vendors).
However, the reviews are mixed. A recurring theme is that the Agile Guidebook is good for preparing for the exam but isn’t the greatest introduction to Agile itself.
What I would personally suggest is picking up the core PRINCE2 manual, Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2 (available on Amazon UK and Amazon US). The latest version is more recent, released two years after the PRINCE2 Agile guide, and contains the most up-to-date overview and explanation of the core PRINCE2 methods and principles.
The Agile approaches could be studied separately using the free Scrum Master Learning Path and other materials. For strategies and tips on learning the Agile approaches, check out my Professional Scrum Master exam preparation guide.
That way, you’ll maximize the learning benefits of preparing for the PRINCE2 Agile exams.
I stand behind this suggestion even after attempting to take the PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner test as a part of my no-preparation PRINCE2 exam experiment and failing the Agile Practitioner part.
But be sure to analyze the PRINCE2 Agile practitioner exam syllabus and the answers to the sample exam questions. You need to adjust your mental focus to the angle from which PRINCE2 views Agile.
PRINCE2 Agile exam simulators
Using the exam simulators before a professional certification exam is a great way to get used to the questions and prepare mentally.
There are various options for the PRINCE2 Agile exam simulator offered by training providers. But here, I’ll look into the official options provided by Axelos.
PRINCE2 Agile Foundation training app
In 2019, Axelos partnered with an app developer, TSO (The Stationery Services), to release an official PRINCE2 Agile Foundation training app.
At the time of writing, the app is no longer available on Google Play and in the App Store.
There are various PRINCE2 Foundation and PRINCE2 Agile Foundation training apps in the market, but they aren’t affiliated with Axelos. They’re most likely repurposing the questions from the official exam sample paper, so I’d rather you use the original papers.
PRINCE2 Agile Foundation and Practitioner sample questions
Axelos provides full-length sample versions of their exams. Visit the relevant certification pages to download the questions and the answers with full explanations and textbook references:
- PRINCE2 Agile Foundation sample exam questions are at the bottom of the certification page.
- The same goes for the PRINCE2 Agile practitioner exam questions – scroll down to download the most recent version of the sample paper.
Since the questions are limited, you’d want to make the most out of the experience. In the PRINCE2 exam preparation guide, I explain how to approach the sample papers to create your own exam simulator and use these valuable questions most efficiently.
Renewing the PRINCE2 Agile certifications
Does the PRINCE2 Agile Foundation certification expire?
The Foundation-level certifications didn’t expire before 2023.
But in 2023, PeopleCert, the issuer of Axelos certifications, made it mandatory to renew Global Best Practice certifications every 3 years. This includes PRINCE2 Agile Foundation.
Ways of renewing the PRINCE2 Agile credentials
- Retaking the original exam (PRINCE2 Agile Foundation or Practitioner) before the renewal date.
- Taking another exam within the same product suite. PRINCE2 Agile is in the Project, Programme & Portfolio Management Product Suite, along with the original PRINCE2, Management of Value (MoV), and a few other project management certifications.
- Collecting the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points by performing learning and professional activities, and logging the CPD points in your MyAxelos dashboard.