Editor’s Note: Ann Pani is a seasoned expert and practitioner of Business Analysis and CBAP, having co-founded a leading organization in BA training and certification (e.g. CBAP, CPRE, ECBA, BABoK, ISO, etc.) called Adaptive US Inc. His firm is also an author on Flevy, where you can find hundreds of BA training materials (e.g. certification training, question banks, templates, etc.). View all their materials here.
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Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) course is the most sought-after certification for business analysts to excel in the corporate world. CBAP is a certification for senior business analysts and gives proven results in terms of salary, benefits, career growth and opening up new opportunities in the global markets.
Though work experience is one of the requirements of CBAP, as a prerequisite, the CBAP certification examination needs good amount of practical knowledge of the business analysis concepts and the ability to relate the knowledge to a practical scenario/case. Preparing for the CBAP certification exam can be a daunting task, but following our recommended approach and tips shared by our expert faculties will give you sure shot success in 10 weeks.
These tips have been shared by our most recent 200+ successful CBAP certified professionals and here are a few tips to help you clear the exam.
- Commitment to the certification goal
If you are committed to the CBAP certification goal and ready to put in about 200 hours of effort towards the same then this is an achievable target. We have found participants who did not commit themselves to the goal and could not complete the certification even in 5 years. At the same time, most participants could complete the certification within 2 months of time.
A practical approach will be to take up a target date between 10 to 12 weeks’ timeframe and work backwards. Set up a plan towards the target, please take into account your family and work commitments while chalking out the plan.
We have seen most of our participants clear this within 10 weeks’ time out of which 4 weeks is the class time and 6 weeks of preparation time.
- Learn from the masters
There are plenty of CBAP training providers and one can obtain the necessary 35 Hour PDUs at a dirt cheap price (may be even below $200). However, such programs most likely have faculties with very low level of experience and knowledge, no support in the process and practically no question bank.
Do consider the value of your time and the consequences of not being able to complete the certification while choosing your training partner. Hence, choosing the right trainer or mentor is very important for this task. If someone is going to read out the BABoK for you, that’s not what you need.
You need someone…
- Who understands BABoK really well
- Can relate the concepts to real life examples
- Can break the knowledge area into smaller tasks
- Give you examples from real life
- Create a mind map for you among the tasks and techniques recommended by BABoK
- Apply the tasks and techniques to a real life case and make it crystal clear to you
The class should give you clarity of concepts related to BABoK in such a way that it not only makes the CBAP certification exam easier for you, but also makes you a better BA in your day job also.
- Do not start with BABoK®
BABoK is the mandated book and curriculum for CBAP certification, however, making one comfortable with BABoK can be quite a steep target given the content, subject and the complexity of the subject. BABoK is an exhaustive book with loads of content which needs to be mastered for CBAP. There are 30 tasks and 50 techniques in BABoK which needs to be understood thoroughly and applied to practical scenarios.
Pick up a CBAP study guide which explains BABoK in a simplified manner. The study guide should break the jargons and terms to simpler words, capture the concepts in a logical manner and at the same time should be concise. Start your preparation with the study guide, understand the concept well and then move to BABoK for preparation. Starting with BABoK may get little challenging.
- CBAP Application Filing – Get it off your back
Then comes the task of the CBAP application filing, this can get bit confusing since one needs to gather experience across the knowledge areas over the last 10 years.
Pick up a CBAP application filing template that simulates the IIBA application filing format and helps you gather the experience throughout the Knowledge areas and guides you with the expectations of IIBA
- Learn to correlate tasks and techniques
Understanding of core concepts is very vital for clearing CBAP certification examination, since the questions are case and scenario based which requires deep understanding of the concepts.
Make sure you study tasks in connection with their techniques. Prioritize on this as you prepare for CBAP. You need to understand the techniques best appropriate for particular situations and tasks at hand. Knowledge of their description, advantages and disadvantages will also help here. Just understand the techniques well and be able to recall their key areas of application.
Understand the tasks and how information flows through the tasks, that is, inputs and outputs. Be able to identify the name of a task given its description and also be able to tell what follows that task.
- Practice sufficient number of exam questions
No amount of studying and practice is enough unless you test your knowledge.
Study each chapter thoroughly and take the chapter based test of concepts and then gradually moving to case based questions on the chapter. Each time you make a mistake go back to concepts, read it again and verify with the answer and try to relate. Take a CBAP question bank which gives you real exam pattern questions and simulators. The more number of questions you solve the better prepared you are for the real CBAP exam.
Once you are comfortable with the chapter based questions then move to simulators. But simulators should be taken up when you are more or less thorough with the concepts. The simulators give you real exam experience with 120 questions (mix of case and scenario based) to be solved in 3 hours. Monitor your performance in the simulators, go back to all those questions where you were wrong and then move to the next simulator, take up simulators till you score around 85% consistently.
- Utilize your travel time to study BABoK
All of us spend significant amount of time travelling to and from work. Utilize this time to brush up your knowledge by listening to CBAP audio book that helps in refreshing the memory and concepts. This helps in memorizing the terms and tasks as well as input, output etc.
- Choose a right date to take the exam
No amount of study will be enough if you don’t set a deadline and work backwards. Set up the exam date preferably after a weekend or if not then on Sunday. Don’t go for the exam after a week of work week, that doesn’t let your brain relax. One needs to stay cool and have a good rest before the exam since the exam is quite exhaustive.
Once you have set up the exam dates, then do at least 2 times revision of the study guide and the question bank. Brush through your notes and tips.
- Stay composed during exam and time management
- Visit the exam center once before the exam
- Take something to eat and drink
- Reach the exam half an hour early
- Relax and read the instructions carefully
- Target to clear 40 questions per hour. This will give you about 30 minutes to handle those that you may have marked for review. Pay close attention to the number of questions answered and remaining, and the countdown of time remaining.
- Don’t spend more than 2 minutes on one question
- Never leave a question un-answered. Select the best answer and mark it for review and revisit it at the end.
- Make use of the highlight and strike-through features of the exam software.
- Attempt the calculation based questions first, there is on screen calculator available, make use of that.
- Case based questions take the maximum amount of time, glance through the case on the first read and move to the questions and then come back to the case, since there is lot of extra information which is not needed to answer the questions. Try to make use of the highlight feature. It will help you in long cases when you highlight the important parts of the case
- Take a break if you feel your mind is tired and blank in the exam
- In CBAP Understanding the situation and question is very important. Read the question slowly and twice if required to understand correctly.
- Stay focused on your goal
At the end of all this the most important point is to stay focused all throughout the journey. Keep a target for yourself and work towards it, make some progress every day. Keep some time marked for prep every day and make use of the weekends more effectively.
I have tried putting down the most exhaustive list of tips here, which many successful participants have shared with us.
Hope this helps you in your preparation. Have confidence on yourself and stay focused, there are 100+ professionals who have got certified on CBAP v3 using these tips and steps and you should be the next.
All the best ahead for your preparation for CBAP, may you pass your exam with flying colors.