I recently cleared CBAP certification exam with a preparation of approximately 1 month. I thought to share my experience with others so that those who are preparing for CBAP exam or even CCBA exam can learn a trick or two, which can help them in achieving the certification. I am not saying “one shoe fit all” and just as I cleared it in a month you too can do it because everybody has got different experiences and work load in a particular time frame so you may need more or less time to do it. But you can clear CBAP in comparatively less time with lessor efforts if you plan in advance and stick to your plan.
If you are preparing for CBAP certification, then I will assume that you have a minimum experience of
7500 hours in BA knowledge areas described by BABOK which simply implies that you have enough hands on knowledge of the field of Business Analysis and understanding how Business Analyst drives through the various process & phases of BA field. This is important because CBAP is not something which one can achieve just by memorizing the book in a month. You will need months if you are solely relying on memorizing the book without any working knowledge. So if you don’t have enough BA experience, you will have to put at least few months to completely memorize the BABOK.
Now it could be a different story for CCBA and I am not aware about the process related to CCBA certification and please check with appropriate sources but if it includes going through book and you have less experience, I will suggest you to put 2-3 months for BABOK Guide.
Your experience is the most important asset and if you are looking to pass CBAP in quick sprints, you got to use your experience as fall back option during exam to answer tougher questions. But having said that, there is no escape from reading BABOK Guide.
Most of the exam questions come either from BABOK guide or are indirectly related to the concepts described in the book. Even to answer situational questions where experience as BA is vital, thorough knowledge of BABOK guide is critical to answer them correctly. Six knowledge areas as per BABOK guide are;
- Business Analysis Planning & Monitoring
- Requirement Management & Communication
- Enterprise Analysis
- Requirement Analysis
- Solution Assessment & Validation
And you need to be thorough with them.
CBAP Exam Preparation
So coming back to how to pass CBAP exam in a month, you need to create and follow a plan. Some of the steps you can take to finalize your plan are;
- Go through your calendar and try to estimate your work. You need to ensure that you are not overloaded with meetings and other project work. You should try to find out a time when you have optimum amount of work so that you are able to take out some time consistently for your studies.
- Allot 3-4 hours every day towards your study with 5-71 hours in during weekends.
- Read BABOK Guide thoroughly.
- Use a mix of supplemental courses to aid your study and practice exam questions After going through BABOK guide and use practice exams, start focusing on your weaker areas. Repeat the process till you are confident about those areas.
- Please note that people usually underestimate chapters like “Underlying Competencies” & “Techniques” but there are lots of questions related to them in exam so please focus on them as well.
- Create your notes, chits and study materials. There are lots of things in BABOK which requires a hybrid approach of Memorizing & Understanding like various input, outputs, tasks & techniques associated with each knowledge area and tasks. You may get direct questions on these topics like “What is input of Business Analysis Planning & Monitoring” or “Which among the options is used as a technique in Plan Business Analysis Approach? I created multiple notes and cheat sheets. To download one of them, Copy of CBAP Guide. It’s one the I created for input, output, techniques and stakeholders.
How To Pass CBAP in 1 Month
- You should devote first 10-14 days to complete BABOK Guide. When I say complete, I mean good first of round of studying BABOK Guide.
- After that, devote 5-7 days into working on chapter based practice questions. Based on your result, go through the chapters again in BABOK Guide. In this second round of BABOK guide, try to re-read or retouch the BABOK guide from start to end so that every concept or phrase is well settled in your brain. Remember you have to customize this exercise based on your requirement.
- You should spend next 5-7 days on revisiting the BABOK Guide & chapter based question, take a full practice exam. This will tell you more about your pain areas.
- Last 1-2 days should be only focused on full practice questions & revisiting BABOK guide for reference.
- Idea is to identify the sector which need more rework so identify them and focus on them.
- You need to continue repeating the above processes till you are comfortable with the questions and concepts mentioned in the book.
- And yes, don’t go for 1-month period blindly. If your work load or situation doesn’t allow, you should choose a longer time frame. But decide in advance how much time you need. It could be 2 months or 3 months but select a time frame, without that you might be wandering without any purpose and may take forever to commit to it.
I used watermark learning, simplilearn and one sample question paper I downloaded from slideshare. Watermark provide questions based on the chapters along with full practice exams. There are set of 25 questions for chapter based practice tests, so you can try them to get a true understanding of your knowledge of these chapters. It is vital to take multiple exams of each chapter till you consistently score over 90%. After going through chapters, try a full exam. It is a full mock exam with 150 questions and is extremely helpful in reflecting where you truly stand. Watermark learning’s exam were really good during initial phase of my preparation but after multiple rounds of going through BABOK and chapter based exams, I think Simlilearn’s exam really helped because their questions are closure to the format of actual CBAP exam. During CBAP, you will find questions with a big description of situation and with confusing language which will make them difficult to comprehend or answer. That’s why when I tried Simplilearn, it really helped me in coping with the language and style of the exam.
Most of us haven’t appeared in a full 3.5 hrs exam in a long time, so biggest challenge for most us would be to stay focused for so long and attempt so many questions together. That’s why it’s important to take the full practice exam seriously so that you know how your brain behaves when subjected to exam conditions. For example, I will do fine for first 60 mins but then I will start losing patience & focus. Then there are additional constraints like in my case, its smoking. I need to smoke at regular intervals so this is one additional factors which I need to handle during exam and I found it really hard to control my urge for full 3.5 hrs and stay focused under pressure. So I took multiple practice exams just to condition my brain to stay focused for over 3 hours.
As mentioned earlier, 1 shoes doesn’t fit all but I hope my experience helps you. If you have already cleared your exam (CBAP or CCBA), please share your tricks and tips to help others.
I wish you luck for your exam.