CAPM Certification: The Agile Way! – Anna Ezerskaya, CAPM, Ph.D.

capm-certification-agile-study-anna-ezerskayaCAPM certification preparation the Agile way? Anna Ezerskaya discovered this, sort of accidentally, when she found PMBOK was a hard read. And this approach served her pretty well.

Anna holds the role of a design engineer doing mainly project integration of a sub-project in High Tech environment with a group of multidisciplinary engineers. She says she is totally sure that her future is in Project Management.

In this article Anna shares how coming from a strong science background, she adapted to project management and prepared for her CAPM exam using the unique Agile approach.

Don’t miss her golden study nuggets at the end of the article.

What made you take up CAPM certification exam?


I have researched available certification exams, where are they recognized, and what value do they stand for.

PMP/CAPM turned to be the winner recognized globally and is supported by the organization of motivated professionals thriving to bring Project Management to a new level.

How do you see your Project Management certification helping you going forward?

I have considered the certification as proof of my capabilities. I am an engineer by trade and actively transitioning myself towards Project Management.

Being a young (I am 29) professional with a heavy technical background (Ph.D. in Physics) one doesn’t readily come across as a project manager until the first or maybe even a few projects are delivered. So one may say that I have used CAPM to put my foot in the door.

I expect to grow in the project management role, as I enjoy the process of solving problems using the synergy of a bunch of smart minds.

Related reads –

Which study resources did you use for the exam preparation?

I have used PMI’s online self-paced course for CAPM certification, which I am very satisfied with, and I have read the PMBOK 6 once.

I opted for the online resource because it fits my busy schedule and I can adjust the pace to my availability.

Awesome! How did you approach the exam?

At first, I have tried to make a plan, but it miserably failed, so I had to get adaptive and go agile 😉

I had to learn that my study speed is lower than I anticipated and planned 1 month spread to 2. However, what truly helped is the way I adapted to the changing needs of the study.

The PMBOK is not a great page-turner, so it would become hard to recall every bit of knowledge. So I timeboxed my preparation and adapted my style as well as time-of-the-day so I can absorb the most.

It is my recommendation to anyone preparing for their certification to adapt the Agile way of study – smaller targets, timeboxed ‘features’ (chapters), and inspecting & adapting at the end of each week to continuously improve.

On a side note, I have done this along with the full-time job, and a couple of other studies.

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Did you face any challenges along the way?

The biggest issue for me was that PMBOK sometimes is just boring to read.

I split it into small chunks, read in the garden, in the bathtub, in a train (don’t attempt caring the physical, heavier, book with you) – basically everywhere whenever I had mental capacity.

Desmond Tutu once wisely said that “there is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.” 🙂

I like that! What was your approach to study the week before the exam?

To be frank, I had no chance to do thorough preparation in the last week.

I highly recommend avoiding this by following a couple of precautions –

  1. while booking your slot look at your work calendar as well as your personal calendar to ensure the week before the exam gives you time for study and revision
  2. in your study plan, know exactly what you will be doing in the week before the exam

Ideally, avoid studying something new in that week.

Your study plan should be such that all the preparation should have happened a week ahead of the exam date. This will allow you to revise the entire content quickly, take practice exams, and touch upon areas that still feel a bit grey.

What was your exam experience like?

My exam experience was a fairly relaxed one, contrary to what I expected.

The calm atmosphere in there definitely helped.

However, sitting for 4 hours was tiring. I must admit I was drained at the end of the exam due to high concentration on questions.

I do think that it is important to prepare yourself for the intense hours. Finding a good simulator and practicing full-length tests is key to CAPM certification success.

Any specific study tips you’d like to share?

The CAPM certification exam is one of the simplest to prepare for. Done right, one can enjoy this learning experience immensely.

The biggest advice I can offer is this: always read the question really carefully.

Innocently worded questions might be asking something completely different than what you think it is. On the other hand, a larger text (verbose) question might be asking something simple and straightforward.

There is this thing you need to understand about the answer options.

There is a chance that you might misunderstand the question based on some information given in the scenario. Information that is not necessary to answer the actual question being asked. And you might use *that* information and come to think of an answer.

Chances are you WILL find that answer of yours among the options! If you chose that and went ahead, you’d just lose out on a perfectly simple question that you might have answered right.

To take an example, a question related to communication might give you all the information necessary to calculate the number of communication channels. But the last sentence might be about something other than the communication channel.

If you went along “guessing” the question as you read through the question and looked at the options before pausing and thinking what the real question is, you might see the communication channel number, mark that option and move on. This happens especially if you are in a hurry.

The other point to consider is that most of the questions are just logical. Thus, make it your goal to FIRST and foremost, just understand the question. Figure out what is it really asking about. Then you will find it easy to choose the correct answer.

Just to repeat, read the question really carefully before answering it.

All the best for your CAPM certification (or PMP, because the syllabus and approach are the same!).


Anna Ezerskaya, CAPM, Ph.D.

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