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Becoming a SAFe Program Consultant – Studying for the SPC Exam

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TL;DR – Looking for SAFe exam questions? Sorry, move along, nothing for you here… If otoh you’re looking for some tips on how to properly study for the exam that seems to have worked for dozens of my students for the SPC exam and other SAFe exams, hang around….

I’ve recently been teaching quite a bit of Implementing SAFe classes. Students are always interested in some tips and tricks on how to prepare for the SPC certification exam, especially since it’s a non-trivial exam even if you attend a class with trainers that know what they’re doing and if you listen and participate throughout. The vast majority of my students pass the exam, but it doesn’t hurt to know how to study.

Here are some ideas that seem to be working for my students, beyond the guidance already provided as part of the class by SAI (Which is good guidance in my experience)

  • Spend time perusing the Big Picture for the different configurations. Review the SAFe core competencies as well
  • Review the whole workbook again. For topics you’re not sure about – find them in the big picture and read the relevant article. 
  • For the Implementing chapters in the workbook, your homepage is the Implementation Roadmap article. It has articles that more or less align with the different lessons/stages. Read all of them. 
  • Review the first and last slide of each lesson (learning objectives) and make sure you know to explain them. 
  • Review the SAFe Glossary.
  • Print the full big picture and implementation roadmap (on large paper if possible) and write down notes as you review. Just the act of writing helps you prepare.
  • Try to draw the big picture and the implementation roadmap on your own from memory and see how much you can get right. Repeat until you like what you see 🙂
  • Generally, try to balance reading with doing. Whether doing is talking (to the mirror, to a colleague, pet, unlucky spouse or child), drawing, or writing. Remember – you learn better by doing. You can try writing questions as well. Maybe share them with your classmates for feedback. (AgileSparks students can do that on our alumni slack channel)
  • If you’re relatively new to SAFe you might benefit from reading SAFe Distilled.
  • There are a lot of additional materials provided in the Implementing SAFe class – some are mentioned in the class materials and some come up in class. Here are some of the additional materials we recommend to our students. I typically recommend students go look at these materials AFTER the exam – as part of their lifelong learning journey. For example – Principles of Product Development Flow by Reinertsen is an amazing book that every SPC should read at least once. But the key takeaways you need from Reinertsen’s work for the SPC exam are provided in the class workbook and the SAFe articles. You are better served by focusing on the exam while the materials from the class are still fresh, rather than diving too deep into these additional materials for now…
  • Take the sample tests provided for the SPC class as well as some of the other SAFe classes that are used on the Implementation Runway –.
    • As an SPC you’re expected to be familiar with many of the topics covered in the other classes so these other tests can come in handy. Note though that you are NOT expected to be familiar with ALL the topics of these other classes, so apply some judgment before going off on a learning tangent that doesn’t make sense…
    • There’s a set of knowledge checks for Leading SAFe 5 that your trainer probably shared with you during class. If they haven’t – please ask them for it…
    • On a related note – be very wary of other sources of preparation materials and especially exam questions that don’t come from SAI or anyone who’s well-recognized in the SAFe community.

There are SAFe 4 Kahoot quizzes created by my friend Inbar Oren (A SAFe Methodologist at SAI) a while ago that are publicly available. Some SPCTs (Including myself) run them during the Implementing SAFe class to help refresh topics from earlier lessons and drive some discussions about nuances/intricacies. You can run them on your own (launch the quiz on your computer, and connect to it as a player from your mobile device/another computer – see here for detailed suggestions) or get together with some others preparing for the exam and have more fun together :-). 

If this is useful or if you have other tips you want to share, let me know in the comments.

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