APM Project Fundamentals Qualification (PFQ) Study Guide (7th edition)
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APM Project Fundamentals Qualification (PFQ) Study Guide (7th edition)

Association for Project Management (APM)

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eBook - ePub

APM Project Fundamentals Qualification (PFQ) Study Guide (7th edition)

Association for Project Management (APM)

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About This Book

Prepare for your PFQ exam in three simple steps with APM's Project Fundamentals Qualification Study Guide. Chapter 1, Study planning, provides helpful tips and advice to get you started and to manage your time effectively. Chapter 2, Study areas, covers the core project management subjects that make up the PFQ exam syllabus. Chapter 3, Self-assessment, gives you the chance to test your knowledge with a series of quick quizzes.Key benefits:15 study areas mapped to each learning outcome from the PFQ syllabus (and aligned to the APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition).A pull-out PFQ study guide planner to help you plan your study and monitor your progress. Over 200 short quiz questions and a comprehensive glossary of APM project management terms.

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1 Study planning

1.1 Using this guide

This study guide has one main objective, to support you in your study for the APM Project Fundamentals Qualification (PFQ). It is also hoped that this guide will act as a reference after your success has been rewarded and that it will occupy a deserved place on your bookshelf, helping you to solve your real-life project management dilemmas for years to come.
If you are using this guide as a means of self-study it is expected that about 25–30 hours would be a good average time to devote to becoming exam ready. This time includes planning, reading and attempting the quick quizzes and some sample questions found in Chapter 3.
When using this guide, think about your approach to learning in three layers. The first layer is the main subject text; this is knowledge that relates directly to the learning outcomes and assessment criteria. This layer is the sufficient amount of study required to be prepared to sit the PFQ exam. To further support your learning, you may consider how project management influences your work and day-to-day activity. This is where a second layer of learning may be useful. Each subject has a ‘Think about …’ opportunity where learners can consider projects that they may have some experience of, or where their organisation is carrying out activity that require a project management approach.
Sometimes during the learning of any subject, it can be difficult to imagine just how some of the theory, techniques and processes can actually be used in real-life practice, particularly if you are new to project management. That’s where the third and final layer of learning can provide some valuable insight into just how real projects deliver what is required, actually using the very elements that you are about to study. ‘The world of project management’ features, which accompany some of the subject areas, provide examples of just how projects are managed in the real world using examples drawn from recent editions of APM’s quarterly journal, Project.
So, even with no practical project management experience, this guide and the associated APM materials will help get you started as you prepare for the PFQ exam. Provided, of course, you apply sufficient personal effort to execute your plan.
When you first view this guide, the syllabus, candidate guidance and other available material you are planning to use, you might think that there is a lot of different numbering systems that may not seem to be connected. Well you are not alone. That’s probably a common first challenge experienced by most people wanting to tackle a substantial subject like project management. It is, however, essential that you do get to grips with the complete structure very early on and incorporate this into your study planning. These introductory pages will help bring all the different components together.

PFQ learning structure

The most important document for an initial review is the APM Project Fundamentals Qualification Syllabus: learning outcomes and assessment criteria aligned to the APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition. You can download the syllabus from the APM website. The syllabus highlights the 10 learning outcomes that describe the knowledge you are required to demonstrate at a sufficient level to be awarded the PFQ qualification. The learning outcomes contain 59 assessment criteria, which aim to show you what specific knowledge is being examined for each learning outcome. Ultimately your knowledge will be tested through 60 individual multiple-choice exam questions.
The content of this learning guide will help you to accumulate the necessary insight to demonstrate your knowledge to the required level for this qualification. There are 15 study areas contained in the study guide. Each study area fulfils the knowledge requirements for one or more assessment criteria. The relationship between the study guide, assessment criteria and learning outcomes is shown in Figure 1.1.1
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Figure 1.1.1 Illustration of PFQ learning structure

Study guide planner

To help you plan your study and monitor your progress, you can use the PFQ study guide planner. It shows the 15 study areas grouped into the three main sections of the guide and mapped directly to each learning outcome. As you complete the study of a particular subject you can then tick it off on the planner, keeping track of your progress. You will find that the study areas are overlaid onto the project life cycle showing how the subjects relate to the sequence of a project. This provides a rough outline of how a project might develop, which may be helpful if you do not yet have any practical project management experience. In reality a lot of the subject areas discuss processes and frameworks that probably happen simultaneously and throughout the whole life cycle, rather than starting and stopping as the study guide suggests. See the study guide planner as more of a revision aid rather than an example of an actual project plan.
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Figure 1.1.2 Pull out study guide planner

Other supporting documentation

In addition to the syllabus, you are advised to download the APM Project Fundamentals Qualification Guide for Candidates. This will provide you with information concerning the exam procedures, exam marking and notifications.
You should also download the latest version of the PFQ exam sample paper. This contains examples of questions of a similar style to those found in the live exam. This paper will give you a feel for the actual exam and build your familiarity with the paper prior to your exam day.
Visit the PFQ information section of the qualifications page of the APM website. Information is regularly updated and published to help and support candidates taking the exam.

APM Body of Knowledge 7th edition

This study guide and the supporting documentation will assist you in studying for and sitting the PFQ exam. You may also consider purchasing the APM Body of Knowledge. While this is not strictly necessary for PFQ study, as a lot of the content of this study guide is taken directly from the APM Body of Knowledge, you might find some of its other topics and content of interest in the future.

1.2 How to study

You will have your own preferences and approach to the way you learn and they will influence the way you use this material. Many candidates find that self-study is just as effective as classroom-based courses, while for others the discipline and self-motivation required for going it alone is just too demanding.
There are many benefits, therefore, in deciding early on how you are going to schedule your studies in relation to all the other activities in your daily life. By thinking about these aspects now you are likely to benefit from a more enjoyable and meaningful learning experience. This in turn will improve overall effectiveness and enable you to adopt a more flexible approach to answering questions.

Suggested approaches

Consider the relationship between practice and theory, investigate typical projects in your working environment, or do some online research of projects that you hear about on your local news or in the press. This type of research will allow you to appreciate the connection between the theory and common practice out there in the real world.
After completing each subject, look for opportunities where you can apply some of the tools and techniques that you are learning. In addition to theoretical study, application and appropriate feedback are essential for effective learning. There are likely to be opportunities to apply theory in your workplace, in social activities and in the home, for example, a work-based project, a club project or a DIY project.
You may be able to review past projects and discuss project management performance with experienced project managers within your organisation, or friends and family members who may work in a project environment. You can obtain feedback on your own study performance from peers, colleagues and supervisors, and there may be opportunities to form study groups or social networks with others who are also studying for the PFQ.
All of the activities discussed above can enhance your learning experience significantly. However, you will need to be proactive in identifying opportunities and include them in your learning plan. Remember that a plan means nothing until it is executed; ensure you take action.

Setting personal learning objectives and realistic targets

On average, the core study time required is about 25–30 hours including reading, quizzes and answering sample questions. Additional time will be required for any optional learning activities, extra revision sessions, attendance at coaching workshops and final exam preparation.
The targeted time frame for study is only a suggestion and may vary considerably depending on personal time constraints and any previous experience of the subject matter. It is, therefore, important to establish the feasibility of the target date you have set for taking the exam and allow adequate study time. The key here is to be realistic. If you dive into study to get to the exam as soon as possible, your approach may not take into account all the other activities that, up to this point, have gone by unnoticed and now they too are making demands on your time. This is when you start missing your goals, become disheartened and the plan is now in shreds. The opposite can be just as challenging, where you purchase the guide, don’t bother with a plan but start reading from page one expecting to complete the guide at some point in the future. Months go by and guess what? You still haven’t got past page 10 and you have read page eight about 50 times!
What is needed, of course, is a balanced approach that allows you to study, work and carry on your social and family life as normally as possible. Tell your friends, family and work colleagues what you are doing and the commitment you are expecting to make to gain a very worthwhile qualification. They will be glad to support you and, of course, join in the celebrations when you get a great pass in the exam.

Common learning techniques

Mind mapping
A mind map is a powerful graphic technique that provides a universal key to unlock the potential of the brain. It harnesses the full range of cortical skills – word, image, number, logic, rhythm, colour and spatial awareness – in a single, uniquely powerful manner. In so doing, it gives you the freedom to roam the infinite expanses of your brain. A mind map can be applied to every aspect of life where improved learning and clearer thinking will enhance human performance.
Widely used in learning, mind maps were first developed in the late 1960s by Tony Buzan. Mind maps are now used by millions of people around the world – from the very young to the very old – whenever they wish to learn or use their minds more effectively. Mind maps can be applied to most of life’s situations that involve any learning or thinking.
If it has been some time since you last studied, you might find mind maps helpful. An online search of ‘mind maps’ will give you more information.
Prompt lists and checklists
If you are new to project management, the number of terms and sheer volume of material may seem a little overwhelming. Breaking down larger concepts into lists can often be a good way of taking control of the material. Starting with each of the larger subject areas, a hierarchy of related terms can be developed, then these can be broken down into other associated terms.
Lists of terms can be useful, and lists of questions or prompts can also aid learning. Ideal if you have a daily commute, using lists is an easy way to revise and can be a break from reading and then re-reading the material.
Flash cards
‘A picture paints a thousand words’ is commonly quoted to describe the effect of using visual imagery as a substitute for lengthy text-based information. When these images are created by learners and placed on small cards they can act as aides-memoires to revise and learn fundamental concepts. Learners report increased success rates in exams when flash cards are used.
Flash cards can be used to show images or very short text descriptions, and can be created by hand or on a computer and then printed for use. There are also a number of free software applications that allow the development of digital flash ...

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