What is the difference between P3O® Foundation and Practitioner?

We often get asked by our delegates – what is the difference between P3O® Foundation and P3O® Practitioner? Can I take the Practitioner course without completing the Foundation? How do the exams differ? We’ve provided this handy guide to provide you the answers to some frequently asked questions about our P3O® courses.

What learning options are available for P3O® Foundation and Practitioner?

The P3O® Foundation course is available in three learning options – traditional classroom based learning, eLearning, and Distance Learning. You can read more about our P3O Foundation learning options here.

The Practioner course is only available by classroom based learning, so as to facilitate the relevant discussions to allow delegates to apply and assess their knowledge.

How long is each course?

In traditional classroom teaching, the P3O® Foundation is a three day course, and the Practitioner a two day course.

Can I take the P3O® Foundation and Practitioner courses together?

Yes! Get in touch with us here to find out about available discounts for Foundation and Practitioner booked together.

Will both courses provide me with a certification?

Yes – you will first get certified in P3O® Foundation, and will then be able to get certified in P3O® Practitioner.

Are there any pre-requisites for completing the Foundation or Practitioner courses?

There are no pre-requisites for completing the P3O® Foundation Course.

In order to complete the P3O® Practitioner course, you must have completed and passed the P3O® Foundation exam.


What content is covered in P3O® Foundation and Practitioner?

The P3O® Foundation course covers the fundamentals of P3O®, helping you to understand the key terminology and concepts used, as well as providing an understanding of the functions, services, tools and techniques provided by a P3O®. Delegates will proceed through all of the syllabus areas of the P3O® Best Management Practice Manual – it’s important to ensure that you have a strong knowledge of each area of the syllabus, and are able to recognise (and more importantly understand) key definitions.

The majority of the learning in the P3O® Foundation course derives from covering the subject areas, learning and understanding definitions, and being able to identify and establish differences in definitions, types of PMOs, tools, techniques and responsibilities. However, the supplementary learning is provided by attempting practice questions throughout the course, allowing you to apply what you have learned in the format of the exam.

The P3O® Foundation exam tests your recall and understanding, for example you need to have a real understanding of what a project is, instead of simply being able to choose a definition that may describe some aspects of a project. This is vital, especially for the exam,  as the wording of questions may appear tricky. However it is important to remember that the exam is not testing if you have simply remembered a definition, but rather if you have an actual understanding of the concepts covered.

The P3O® Practitioner course differs from the Foundation, as it asks you to have a good understanding of the concepts and methodology learnt in the Foundation, but apply this theory in practice. This is why the P3O Foundation is a prerequisite to the Practitioner – you will need to take what you have learned and be able to apply and assess its usage.

The syllabus areas are covered in the Practitioner, but the real learning is provided by having broader discussions about the application of the methodology by working through practice exam questions. Our delegates really enjoy this aspect of the course – they are able to discuss amongst each each other how the methodology can be applied to their own organisation, and assess how that has worked for them in their individual roles.

These discussions, facilitated by course trainer P3O® author Eileen Roden, stretch the thinking of delegates, ensure that they have the confidence to apply the principles of the Foundation course. Here’s what one of our delegates has to say about this approach:

I feel more confident about the course provider and her ability to listen and exchange points of view among participants.

For example, in the Foundation course you might learn the benefits of using standardised tools and techniques, the Practitioner course would expect you to remember these benefits, but also use a project prioritisation tool to ensure that you understand how they work in practice.

The P3O® Practitioner exam is testing that your understanding of the knowledge is strong enough to apply it to given scenarios, as well as assess the use of it by other Practitioners. You may be provided with a list of projects and a prioritisation matrix and then rank them according to this matrix.

Alternatively, you may be presented with a scenario in which a tool has been used for a project, and you must assess if the tool has been utilised correctly. The Practitioner course allows you to build on and develop the fundamentals which you will have secured in the Foundation course.

A great way to understand the difference between the P3O® Foundation and Practitioner courses is seeing the Foundation as your driving theory test – learning the rules of the road, understanding the terminology and getting to grips with the concepts. The Practitioner is similar to the practical driving test – taking what you have learned from the theory, and using it in a real-world context.

What is the difference in the P3O® Foundation and Practitioner exams?

The P3O® Foundation exam consists of 75 multiple choice questions over the course of one hour. This exam does not allow for the use of the P3O® Manual.

The P3O® Practitioner exam consists of 4 questions, worth 40 marks each, over the course of two and a half hours. This exam allows for the use of the P3O® Manual.

So, what now?

If you’d like to take the plunge into P3O® Certification, you can book your place on our P3O® Foundation courses here.

If you’ve completed your P3O® Foundation exam and are looking for the next step – you can book your place on P3O® Practitioner here

The P3O® courses on this page are offered by PMO Learning. P3O® is a [registered] trade mark of AXELOS Limited. P3O® is a registered trade mark of AXELOS Limited, used under permission of AXELOS Limited. The Swirl logo™ is a trade mark of AXELOS Limited, used under permission of AXELOS Limited. All rights reserved.

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