Why you should take the fifth

Students in a classroom taking an exam

On the 26th of October, we launched the 5th edition of Managing Successful Programmes (MSP®). With the launch of the new edition of the book, comes a completely redesigned qualification.

The new qualification offers many benefits to candidates, and a superior learning experience to the previous 4th Edition. We are very excited to share the new best practice with the community.

The process

In October 2019, the Axelos team, along with Adrian Hicks (Chief Examiner for MSP), Michelle Rowland (Lead Examiner for MSP, and Chief Examiner for PRINCE2 & MoP), and Ruth Murray-Webster (Lead Editor for MSP 5th Edition), met to design the syllabus for the new MSP 5th Edition.

Over a series of workshops, we discussed the content that would be included in the new edition of the MSP guidance and created a syllabus that we feel captures all the concepts that are core to MSP.

From this syllabus, we designed a two-level certification scheme. The Foundation level explores the key concepts to MSP, providing an entry-level overview of the MSP framework and common vocabulary to anyone who works on projects and programmes, and wants to learn more about MSP.

The Practitioner level builds on the concepts introduced at Foundation level by applying them in context and asking the candidate to make and analyse suitable decisions based on a presented scenario.

Key differences between the exams

Aside from a completely redesigned syllabus, there are several differences between the 4th edition and 5th edition MSP exams that will bring new benefits to candidates. We listened to the feedback from our community of candidates and trainers, and have made some adjustments to provide an enhanced exam and learning experience:

  • a more streamlined exam in the style of the PRINCE2 6th Edition exams meaning that candidates can focus on learning the MSP content, rather than learning how to answer complex question types.
  • a more simplified scenario in the Practitioner exam which will give the candidate more time in the exam to focus on the questions and reduce the reading burden.
  • a reduction in the number of questions for each level: the Foundation exam has reduced from 75 to 60 multiple choice questions, and the Practitioner exam has reduced from 80 part-questions to 70 part-questions. This reduction ensures that the candidate receives an assessment focusing on the key concepts and not being over-tested on any one concept.

The simple scenario will provide vital information for some questions, but for many questions the information required to answer the question will be included in the question stem instead. The reduced reading burden and decreased reliance on the scenario to answer questions will also provide an enhanced exam experience for those sitting their exams online where the scenario does not need to be on screen at all times.

Despite the reduction in complexity and number of questions, the time allowed to sit the exams remains at 60 minutes and 150 minutes for Foundation and Practitioner respectively. This is to ensure that candidates have a fair amount of time to ensure that they can answer every question to the best of their ability.

We have also refocused the two exams in terms of the cognitive ability (Bloom’s level) required. The Foundation exam covers all key concepts at a knowledge and understanding level (Bloom’s 1 & 2). There are no new concepts introduced at Practitioner level; the exam simply assesses the same concepts at a higher cognitive level (Bloom’s 3 & 4), where the candidate is asked to apply and analyse concepts in context.

The MSP 5th edition guidance is much more focused on key concepts as the authoring process was driven by the syllabus. Therefore, the candidate will enjoy a product and assessment method that focuses on what is truly crucial for a Programme Manager.

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