Preparing for the MSP Exam

Preparing for the MSP Exams

Published: May 25, 2022
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‘Programs’ are an essential strategic element of running any successful organization. Strategic program management defines a company’s trajectory in terms of how it seeks to evolve, and project and program managers need the skills and perspective to achieve goals on time and within budget.

‘Managing Successful Programmes (MSP)’ is a program management framework created by AXELOS. It breaks programs down into more workable projects with clearly established goals, responsibilities, communication channels, and so on. This ensures that successful projects offer greater collective benefits than the sum of their parts, driving progress towards program targets and continually empowering business transformation.

For both experienced and prospective program managers, the MSP framework offers demonstrably effective best practices. Certification can even help candidates unlock new responsibilities and job roles, especially as the framework can be applied regardless of a company’s size, structure, or industry.

So, how should you go about getting certified in MSP? Here are our top tips on how to prepare for the MSP exams.

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What Is an MSP Qualification?

MSP stands for ‘Managing Successful Programmes’, a program management qualification owned by AXELOS. It offers proven principles and practices that help users plan, implement, and optimize programs in a way that not only achieves strategic objectives but does so within structured time and cost constraints.

MSP qualifications demonstrate that a candidate has a clear understanding of the framework and how to apply it in practice. They start with ‘MSP Foundation’, an exam covering the basics of MSP, including its Principles, Processes, and Themes. Candidates can then move on to ‘MSP Practitioner’, which looks at how to utilize MSP in real-world programs and companies.

How Do I Qualify for the MSP Exams?

There are no prerequisites for sitting the MSP Foundation exam, so a candidate can book it without any restrictions.

However, to sit the Practitioner exam, a candidate must first earn their Foundation certification.

Tips for Passing the MSP Exams

Practice Papers

When it comes to certification exams, it is important to take the time to become familiar with the conditions of the exams themselves. Not only does this prepare candidates to answer questions in a specific format, but it can also help frame course content in a way that makes it easier to revise. 

Many MSP certification courses come with official practice papers. Good e-Learning, for example, offers two papers per course. Other practice papers can usually be found online (though candidates should keep in mind that papers from before 2020 may not reflect the latest version of the framework).

A particularly useful aspect of taking practice exams is that it can highlight where a candidate has knowledge gaps that may harm their chances. This, in turn, can guide their revision and help them optimize their odds of passing the official certification exams. Because of this, it is worth using practice exams as early and frequently as possible.

Speak to MSP Practitioners

MSP, like most popular frameworks, has a healthy community of practitioners who discuss how to apply and adapt MSP in real-world companies. These thought leaders are usually happy to consider questions from fellow users and can even offer advice to students going through the framework for the first time.

While studying MSP, you may want to take the time to search for and join professional forums relating to the framework. You will also find no shortage of MSP articles and other resources by searching online. 

Get To Know the Building Blocks of MSP

The MSP framework is made up of several key elements:

  • Principles – The characteristics of a successful program
  • Processes – Tasks to help guide practitioners throughout the lifecycle of a program
  • Themes – Points to be considered when delivering a transformational change program
  • Scenarios – Examples that demonstrate how the framework can be applied in practice (several scenarios are supplied per chapter) 

Needless to say, it is crucial that candidates take the time to familiarize themselves with MSP’s Principles, Processes, Themes, and Scenarios. The Themes, in particular, make up a large proportion of the MSP certification syllabus. Candidates will be expected to be able to consider questions and assess programs through the lens of MSP, so working with case studies will be particularly beneficial.

Many MSP courses also come with quizzes, knowledge checks, and other materials to help reinforce training and retention. Be sure to take full advantage of these along with practice exams!

Give Yourself Enough Time

When it comes to professional training, it can be tempting to try and earn your certification as quickly as possible. However, investing in MSP training is worthwhile because of the training itself, not just the qualification!

It’s also worth mentioning that online MSP courses typically offer several months of access. There is no reason for candidates to rush, especially if they are planning to actually utilize their training rather than just try to benefit from passing the exam.

Be sure to note exactly how long you have to complete your MSP training course. Make enough room in your schedule for daily training and avoid either trying to fit everything in at once or waiting until the last minute to get started.

Ideally, you should have several weeks of access left before booking your exam. You can use this time to revisit practice papers and other resources to cement your training.


What Do I Do After Passing the MSP Exam?

After you pass your MSP Foundation exam, you can choose to start preparing for the MSP Practitioner exam. 

Alternatively, you may want to spend some time applying what you have learned so far to build your practical understanding of the framework. Having experience implementing MSP can also help you unlock better program management career opportunities than simply getting certified.

How Difficult Are the MSP Exams?

If passing the MSP exams was easy, there would be little point in getting certified! 

That is not to say that getting certified is particularly difficult, however. Candidates just need to put in enough study time to truly get to know the framework while also looking at how it is adapted, applied, and managed in real-world programs.

Taking practice exams is also a must, as being unfamiliar with an exam’s format may make passing it a lot more difficult. Remember, there is no shortage of practice MSP exams available from AXELOS and training providers like Good e-Learning. 

Who Runs the MSP Exams?

The MSP exams are run by PeopleCert on behalf of AXELOS.

How Do You Pass the MSP Exams?

The best way to pass the MSP exams is to give yourself enough time to study the syllabus in detail and take several practice exams.

It will also be important for you to study with an accredited training provider, or the course may not fully prepare you to sit the exams.

Why Study for the MSP Exams With Good E-learning?

Good e-Learning is an award-winning online training provider with a portfolio of fully accredited courses in project and program management, IT service management, and more. Our MSP Foundation and MSP Practitioner certification courses are designed to leave candidates fully prepared to pass their exams on the first attempt!

Our in-house team of training specialists works with subject matter experts to offer unique, experience-based insight that candidates won’t find anywhere else. We also enhance our online training courses using a variety of assets and formats, such as instructor-led videos, regular knowledge checks, and downloadable MSP PDFs. 

The Good e-Learning support team even offers free exam vouchers and resits for every candidate!

For those interested in MSP team training, Good e-Learning also specializes in corporate e-learning programs. Your personal liaison will work to understand your exact training requirements and goals before offering a bespoke learning plan that meets your needs. Our award-winning LMS offers dynamic reporting to let us offer proactive help to groups and individual candidates. Your company will also have a permanent point of contact with Good e-Learning to discuss changes to your training program as it scales and evolves.

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Want to find out more? Visit our website or contact a member of the Good e-Learning team today!