MSP® Practitioner Exam Tips

Insights | 04 July 2014

The Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) Practitioner accreditation is a highly sought after international programme management accreditation.
Like all Practitioner-level qualifications, this exam really tests your understanding of applying best practice in given organisational circumstances.

Here are 5 tips for preparing for your MSP Practitioner exam:

1. Tab and review your MSP Guide

Tab and review your MSP Guide PRIOR to the Exam. The Practitioner exam is an open book examination – you can reference your tabbed, annotated and highlighted MSP textbook but no other (separate) notes. Be conscious that you want to be referencing your Guide NOT reading it during the exam. Eight questions (each with parts) in 2.5 hours means you cannot afford to waste valuable time on casually browsing for the answers in the text. Know where to go in the Guide if you need to quickly check something.

Avoid being over-zealous with your tabs (avoid tabbing everything and anything so that you end up with a book tabbed at the top, side and bottom!). At a minimum be able to reference:

  • Appendix A – Programme Information (ie the MSP documents)
  • The 9 Themes
  • The 6 Processes

Getting to these sections quickly will enable you to manoeuvre around the Guide and check any finer points!

2. Do the practice exams

Do the practice exams and ensure you understand all topics and why an answer is correct. Like all examinations, MSP requires the candidate to have a clear understanding of its element and syllabus. The practice questions are there for exactly that – to help you practice applying MSP to a scenario. Practitioner requires you not only to know the foundation theory of MSP but how it can be applied appropriately in different circumstances. Ensure you are applying MSP to a given case study.

3. Time Management

Time Management during the Exam. Be aware that your aim is to adequately complete all 8 questions, including all parts – a total of 80 line items in 2.5hours. Recommendations are:

  • Spend up to 15 minutes reading and understanding the scenario in a MSP context
  • Apply the 15 minute rule per question

This allows you tolerance overall of 15 minutes – time typically needed to review the additional information or spend a few more moments on that tricky part C question! Successful candidates attempt ALL questions – don’t just answer your favourite topics.

4. Read the question, read the answers, answer the question

Read the question, read the answers, answer the question (not what you want it to be!). Watch out for absolute answers such as ALL, ALWAYS, NEVER, MUST and ONLY. MSP is a programme management approach that needs to be applied appropriately given the circumstances – avoid any absolute answers (unless it is a negative question), and select answers that can be interpreted as recommended best practice per MSP. Remember the exam technique of process of elimination – you should be able to eliminate the “non-MSP” answers and concentrate on looking for the best MSP answer(s) given the scenario.

5. Remember it is a MSP exam

Remember it is a MSP exam, not a general programme management exam. Answer in accordance to MSP – not what your current workplace programme management approach may recommend. Recognise that you may be currently practising programme management outside of the exam room, but what you would normally do is NOT necessarily the MSP way. As such, remember for a REASON to be true in an assertion/reason question, it must be a MSP reason – not a common sense reason.

MSP® is a registered trademark of AXELOS Limited

2 thoughts on “MSP® Practitioner Exam Tips”

  1. Ursula Zajac says:

    sometimes it is difficult to understand the question in the way it has been written

    Do you have any guidance for this?

    1. PM-Partners says:

      Hi Ursula,

      Our Head of Development, Tracey Copland, has suggested the following:

      – Highlight key terms/phrases to help focus what the question is asking
      – Ensure any words in ‘bold’ (e.g true statements, MOST, NOT) are not missed
      – For negative questions (i.e NOT), turn the question around by removing the NOT and then strike out the answers that would answer the question without the NOT
      – If the question is lengthy, break it down into key components
      – For assertion/reason questions, highlight key words. Remember ‘should’ is used in the context of ‘recommended as best practice by MSP’
      – Keep in mind the specific syllabus area being tested but remember the application of MSP (which is what the Practitioner exam is about) means integrating the processes, themes and principles

      We hope this helps!

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