Three top tips when sitting the PRINCE2 exam

This is a guest article from Simon, a PRINCE2 trainer who will give you 3 tips to be as efficient as possible during the exam.

NB : this article is translated in French here

Sitting any exam is a nerve-wracking experience. That feeling of dread when waking up in the morning doesn’t really dissipate until the exam is over. You then have to wait another week or two until you get your result which means you walk out of the exam room either feeling elated if you think you did well, or utterly dejected if you think you made a mess of it.

You must, of course, prepare well for your PRINCE2 exam which often means sitting a 5 day classroom course or studying yourself online, doing all the homework and practising lots of sample exams. Apart from these obvious things, what are some top tips to help you once you set foot in the exam room?

My top 3 tips to help you during the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam are based upon my experience of being a PRINCE2 trainer since 2006, since when I’ve trained and invigilated hundreds of students through their PRINCE2 exams. Both PRINCE2 exams are objective tests meaning they contain a range of multiple-choice style questions.

Top tip 1: read the question carefully

No matter how many times I say this to students, they often fail to follow this simple rule. For example, there are some types of questions which ask the student to “select 2 answers”. It never ceases to amaze me just how many students end up selecting only 1 answer. Now because there are no half marks on the PRINCE2 exam papers, this student has just thrown away one mark. There might be 6 such questions in a section, so if the student has only selected one answer for each, that’s 6 marks they have just thrown away. When the pass mark is 44, they’ve just lost 13% of the potential pass marks.

Top tip 2: don’t spend too much time on each question

Some questions are particularly time-consuming especially when you are asked to do a lot of reading. For a 2.5 hour exam with 80 marks available in total, you have just 112 seconds to spend answering each question. Sometimes, students might spend 5 minutes to answer one question. Do this 5 times in an exam, and you have reduced the time available to answer the remaining questions to 100 seconds each. So, rather than spend too much time answering one question, it’s always better to skip a difficult question and move to the next one which might be easier and quicker to answer.

Top tip 3: don’t spend too much time looking things up in the manual

The PRINCE2 Practitioner exam is an open book exam, meaning you can take your PRINCE2 manual into the exam with you. You might be tempted to look up the answer in the manual. This is OK if you know the exact place in the book where you can find the answer, but if you spend 5 minutes trying to find an answer, then you run the risk of running out of time for the remaining questions, as I explained in the previous tip.


There’s other things which you should do to give yourself the best chance in the exam, such as getting a good night’s sleep the day before, and drinking plenty of water during the exam. But overall, follow the three tips above and you will have a great chance of passing what can be a very challenging exam.

simon-buehringThe author, Simon Buehring, is an accredited PRINCE2 trainer and founder of Knowledge Train, which is an accredited PRINCE2 training organization based in the UK

®PRINCE2 is a registered trade mark of the Cabinet Office

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