PAL exam – My thoughts and knowledge sharing

Last post 03:52 am April 30, 2021
by Scott Anthony Keatinge
12 replies
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07:00 pm April 18, 2019

Hello All, I took the exam and passed in first attempt, I am trying if I can put some light of guidance on this topic which may help PAL aspirants.

According to my understanding PAL exam is regarding the agile leadership, so the aspirants of PAL need to understand objective and prospective of PAL I exam. This is more about understanding how Agile leadership will help organizations and teams to adapt Agile practices and supporting those practices in organization where Agile is already implemented or there is goal to transform organization/ teams to adapt agile for iterative, incremental business value delivery by using power of transparency, inspection and adaption with theory of Empiricism.

Questions (maximum) are scenario based, more towards how you will reflect/respond to situation as being an agile leader.

I didn’t go through any training or read any specific books, exam was not quite tough for me, might be my strength was my experience and in-depth understanding of Scrum and agile principles.

Tips for exam:

Have through understanding of:

  1. Agile manifesto and agile principles.
  2. Agile leaders are responsibility to support agile teams in enact agile in organizations.
  3. Agile leader needs to come out of directive leadership and behave as servant leader.
  4. Agile leader needs to help agile team by empowering them as self-organized team.
  5. Agile leader needs to shield teams from impediments which may impede business value delivery.
  6. Agile leader help in creating environment in which team can continuously improve and progress well.
  7. Blogs , videos and forum related to Agile leaders may help for more understanding about responsibility of agile leaders.
  8. Blogs below authors on agile leadership are really helpful.
    • Ron Eringa
    • Stephanie Ockerman
    • Kurt Bittner
    • Gunther Verheyen

Note: Exam in not very tough but yes certainly not fairly easy also. Exam is passable if you have some experience in Agile leadership, please note these are tips from my point of view as Professional Agile Leader and there would be lots of others tips shared on this subject

I hope these tips may help for PAL aspirants. Please feel free to add/refine more tips.

 

Best of Luck

Sunil Gulia

09:51 am April 20, 2019

Thank you for this information. Can you also share why have you decided to pass this exam ? Is it needed at work ? 

In my organization word "agile" is used in different occasions. However I have doubts whether we really follow agile or scrum principles. What is the difference between "scrum" and "agile" ? Sorry for basic questions.

Regards,

Marek

08:09 pm April 20, 2019

Hey Marek,

To my understanding you have below questions:

  1. Why I decided to pass this exam? Is it needed at work?
  2. What is the difference between "scrum" and "agile”?

    And then making a very valid point: In your organization word "agile" is used in different occasions. However, I have doubts whether we really follow agile or scrum principles.

So, let’s take these one by one

  1. Why I decided to pass this exam? Is it needed at work?
    I have firm belief in Scrum Principles and values and admire Scrum Theory of empiricism:
    So I continuously inspect myself regarding the knowledge I have got from my experience and adapt the way of enhancing my knowledge further. I decided to take this exam to inspect my understanding. Knowledge and experience as Agile leader point of view, I adapted to new concepts about role, responsibility, accountability and contribution of Agile Leader in organization to enact Agile. I also believe in Evidence Based Measurement (EBM) and this exam shows my understanding about how agility adds value to organization and why leadership support of agile teams is essential to achieving organization agility.

    Having this exam/certificate is not formally required at workplace and not directly related also, but sure having good understanding about Agile leader roles will help me to coach(groom) senior/executive management thought process regarding Agile implementation. This also help me to better understand the management point of view, specifically when some questions look very valid but confusing about “Agile” as management point of view 😊. 
    So, this is more about my own Agile Leader knowledge refinement and adaptation. I can sense, sure having this knowledge will make me more confident when communicating to management roles on Agile.

 

  1. What is the difference between "scrum" and "agile”?

    Very good point and I believe; this topic need a full Blog of an article on its own. But to give a brief on this here is my understanding about “Agile” and “Scrum “:

    Agile methodology:  refers to the processes aligned to the set of guiding principles listed in Agile manifesto (http://agilemanifesto.org/ ).Agile represent various methodologies influenced by iterative and incremental value delivery by self-organized  teams. Agile focus on delivering working software with business value with collaboration of customer and welcome changes using customer quick feedback loops. There are various methodologies, framework influenced by Agile principles, some of them are :
    Scrum , Kanban, Extreme Programming, (XP), Feature Driven development(FDD),Dynamic System Development method (DSDM), Rational Unified Process (RUP) and others.

    Scrum: Please refer to Scrum Guide(https://www.scrum.org/resources/scrum-guide) as it won’t be possible to explain all about Scrum here in this post but on high level ,

    As defined  by Scrum Guide “Scrum (n): A framework within which people can address complex adaptive problems, while productively and creatively delivering products of the highest possible value.”

    Scrum is:

    • Lightweight
    • Simple to understand
    • Difficult to master

      Scrum is the most popular way of implementing Agile, maximum teams/organizations use Scrum framework as Agile principle implementation. Scrum is a simple framework to address complex problems to deliver high value increment iteratively  

      So, based on above brief you can understand “Agile is an umbrella under which we have many framework, methods, Agile focus on customer satisfaction by delivering working(shippable), business value, software frequently. Scrum is one of the frameworks under umbrella of Agile for Agile implementation.

 

  1. Your Point: In my organization word "agile" is used in different occasions. However, I have doubts whether we really follow agile or scrum principles.

    I can understand as this happen frequently in organization where Agile/ Scrum is not adapted yet, where organization are having vision to implement Scrum/Agility and still under transformation phase.

    So, to check if your organization is following Scrum, you need to inspect if framework is enacted in as per scrum guide or just some components of Scrum are used by team, because using components or part of Scrum is possible but then the result is not Scrum as Scrum exists only in its entirety.

    I hope, I am able to put some light to clarify your points and will be happy to help in case you need further information on Agile and Scrum.

Regards

Sunil Gulia

10:29 pm June 17, 2019

Hello Gulia! Thank you for sharing your thoughts regarding PAL. So, I would like to ask you about you thoughts specifically related to my scenario.

I have got the PMI-ACP certification and I am looking for another agile assessment. After reading what PAL is and according to your opinion, I could realize that PAL would be a subset of PMI-ACP.

It is included in some PMI-ACP domains like Agile Principles and Mindset, value-drive development, adaptive planning and so on…

Do you agree if one take PMI-ACP would be easier to take this one? What do you think about it? Is it worth to take PAL after taking PMI-ACP?

I am thinking about this one or the PSK certification.

Thank you very much!

 

12:52 pm December 24, 2019

Dear all : i am PSPO track certified and wanted to validate my experience by giving PAL-1. i just missed it by 0.6% got 84.4 %. I am now in doubt if i should be giving this certification again or feel happy that my understanding is close enough ? There is no specific organisational push for me to give PAL-1. it was my curiosity. Also since (almost half of)  the questions are very situational where there can be more than one right answer and the better answer is still subjective, i wished there was an result report with reasons as to why the answers went wrong to validate / learn / un-learn.  

02:36 pm December 24, 2019

@Rajat, In order to maintain the quality and integrity of our Professional-level assessments for certification, we cannot provide you with the exact questions and answers from your assessment sessions. This is in-line with industry standards that have been set for testing and certification bodies including Project Management Institute (PMI), as well as Microsoft, and The College Board SAT Testing, for example. 

Instead, we provide feedback as a breakdown of your performance in each category, so you can see your strengths and weaknesses. The granular focus areas should help you direct your studies in the specific topics you scored lower in. 

07:57 pm December 26, 2019

Dear Eric : thanks for your feedback. I cleared PAL-I in my second attempt today. Your suggesting to read the f/b from the first attempt results was helpful. 

Regards,

 

01:07 am April 10, 2020

Thank you, @Sunil and everyone for your feedback. This was most helpful with my preparation for the PAL 1 certification. 

02:29 am May 13, 2020

As I was searching for guidance for taking SPS Nexus and PSK Kanban certification exams, I realized from the discussions in the forum that PSK is hard and discovered PAL is not that tough. Was tempted to try the PAL Open Assessment immediately without much preparation and failed in first attempt getting only 10 out of 15 questions correct. But when I tried PAL Open Assessment again I was able to get 100%, 93.3%, 93.3% and 100% in my four subsequent attempts. And each of the attempts didn't even take 5 minutes. The real exam surely will not be that easy. I had passed PSM I and PSPO I and not sure if that made PAL Open Assessment easier. However, it will be nice if they make the PAL Open Assessment more challenging so that it can be good tool for preparing for the real exam. 

Thanks to the discussions in the forum, now I am convinced to attempt PAL first before thinking of SPS or PSK. I will follow guidance from Sunil Gulia and others and will prepare without being complacent from Open Assessment experience. 

07:00 am May 13, 2020

I read the Agile Leadership Toolkit book efore taking PAL (93.7%). I think the book helped me with 2 questions but the rest of the questions, I think someone who passed PSPO I and PSM I would have no trouble with them. Still, I enjoyed the book (i'm lucky it was on sale on bookdepository when i bought it).

Do note that PAL is still scrum-centric, so if you have learnt about agile management from other courses like PRINCE2 Agile, please remember to answer according to SCRUM and not PRINCE2 Agile.

 

10:08 am May 13, 2020

 read Olavo Alexandrino's point above, I have the following description (because I also passed the ACP exam):
1. I do n’t think PAL is a subset of ACP ("I could realize that PAL would be a subset of PMI-ACP."),
2. You should carefully understand the areas that the PAL exam focuses on;
3. On the contrary, I think ACP is too simple, only suitable for team members to popularize basic knowledge to use it, or use it to verify their knowledge and understanding of Agile.

07:56 pm April 28, 2021

I have just passed the PAL I exam.  This was an enjoyable exam and is on the same level as the PSM II & PSPO II, and had some quite tricky questions.  I thought I would do OK with the EBM related questions; however, most of them did not read like EBM scenarios so I will have to intensify my studies before taking the PAL-EBM exam. 

The PAL learning path puts you in good stead for passing this exam.  I did read the Agile Leadership Toolkit, but did not come across any questions that related to it. 

03:52 am April 30, 2021

One final tip that has come to me in hindsight, due to completing the PAL-EBM suggested reading, is to also go through that material when studying for the PAL I exam as it contains information about portfolio management.