I sat and thankfully passed the NPDP (New Product Development Professional) exam on the 25th of February! Last week I received my certificate and little gold pin in the post and decided now is probably a good time to write a brief blogpost on my NPDP journey and my five tips for passing on first attempt.
Firstly, for those unfamiliar with the NPDP qualification let me fill you in. NPDP certification has been developed by the Product Development and Management Association (PDMA) and is an internationally recognized body of knowledge. The Product Development and Management Association (PDMA) is the premier global advocate for product development and management professionals. For me, gaining NPDP certification is an important signal to existing and potential clients that IMS is a leading provider of product marketing services with in-depth knowledge across all relevant NPD areas.
The NPDP exam is 3.5 hours long and consists of 200 multiple choice questions with a pass rate of 75% or 150 questions covering the following topics:
• Product Strategy
• Teams, People and Organizational Issues
• Portfolio Management
• NPD Processes
• Tools and Metrics
• Market Research
So here are my top tips for NPDP exam success:
1. Do a Course
Unless you are already scoring 75% on the PDMA website’s practice test, I suggest doing a pre exam course. The PDMA provides links on their website to a number of training bodies and educators who run a combination of classroom style, online on demand and webinar style courses. Check it out here. I highly recommend doing your research and picking a course that fits with your work schedule, lifestyle and budget. I chose the Global NP Solutions self-study course which provided 24/7 accesses to 21 course modules and a bank of quizzes and practice exams for an 8 week period.
2. Do Not Underestimate the Preparation Time Involved
The NPDP exam is an in-depth assessment and requires you to have a relatively deep understanding of the subject matter. Each module in my self-study course averaged approximately 45 minutes viewing time. I suggest you spend an hour studying the information and completing the required reading after viewing the module . Depending on your background you will find some modules easier than others e.g. given my current role and past experience in product marketing, the portfolio management and market research areas were familiar however someone from an engineering background might find these topics very new and have to engage in more in-depth study and additional reading. As the exam drew closer and I had completed all modules, I turned my attention for two eight hour days towards completing as many practice tests and quizzes as possible. In total, I spent at least 55 hours preparing for the exam.
3. Do as Many Practice Exams as Possible
Practice tests are invaluable in preparing you for the time pressure and style of questions in the actual exam. The questions can be tricky with a number of answers which look potentially right so engaging in practice tests will help sharpen your understanding and make you aware of those curve balls which can crop up. Many of the training courses come with a bank of practice exam questions while some offer the option to purchase access to the question bank separately. Whatever you choose, ensure you leave enough time post study and pre exam to do at least 2 or 3 practice exams. If you are scoring 80% and over, it’s very likely you have enough knowledge to sit and gain a pass rate of 75% on the real exam.
4. Understand the Theory
While there are elements of the theory you will learn by heart e.g. the names of Porter’s 3 Classical Strategies, it is essential you understand the theory in order to do well in the exam. Once you understand the rationale behind the process or the theory being discussed, the need to learn lists by heart becomes unnecessary and you can use your logic and understanding of what you have read to select the correct option.
5. Read the Question
Age old advice I know but having reviewed my incorrect answers in practice exams, I realised just how valuable this advice is. With an average of 1.05 minutes per question the temptation to speed read questions, especially those with recognisable phrases is huge. Don’t do it! You will answer lots of questions in less than 1.05 minutes so give yourself time to read the questions and all the possible answers. The exam software affords you the opportunity to mark the questions you wish to return to later so if you are unsure, answer the question with a best guess and mark it for review at the end.
Hopefully, you will have gained one or two small pieces of advice from this blog post. If you have any other questions on my NPDP journey or are seeking to engage the services of an NPDP certified Product Marketer, please contact me on 00353 91 739 450 or firstname.lastname@example.org.