CBAP – This is your year!

by Felicia Arambula, CBAP                                                                                                                                      
So, you decided you want your CBAP and think you may qualify.  Your next thought may be “Ugh, how do I get all my hours together and get all my studying done?”  I had the same thought.  I couldn’t get myself to sit down and get the party started.  The whole process was so daunting to me.  How does one put this all together and pass the test and keep up with a job and take care of a home life?
It’s a lot of work, but you can do it!  You’re a BA.  You are a master at organization and figuring out the best way to tackle complex tasks at hand.  I have full confidence in you and you should too.
After the blood, sweat, and tears I shed during my journey, these are the lessons I learned.
Completing your Application

  • Record your hours as you go along – this is probably not the most realistic, but strive for this if you can.
  • Estimate hours - You need to estimate the hours for each initiative, then apply each of those hours to a knowledge area.  Gather information from time sheets at previous jobs or write a list of the initiatives that you can think of (within the certification timeframe) at previous and current employers.  Think of a high-level amount of time you worked on each initiative and go from there.
  • Find a spreadsheet to record your hours – I built my own, which was very helpful.
  • Have your references ready well before you submit your application – you don’t want a lack of references to stop you from submitting your application.
  • IIBA Core BA Certification Handbook - Make sure you are familiar with the handbook and are clear on all the requirements needed to apply for the CBAP.

  Figuring out your study process

  • Make time to study - I changed my study method a few times because I did not leave myself enough time to study!  Create a calendar, make a schedule for yourself, and stick to it as best as you can.
  • Choose study materials that work for you - I used everything I could get my hands on.  Find what will allow you to absorb the BABOK concepts.  I used:
    • Flash cards – Watermark and created my own
    • Watermark Exam Guide – gives you tips on how to study and what to expect from the exam
    • Watermark study tables
    • Exam simulator
    • Mind maps
    • Methods – mnemonics, picture and story memorization, reading to comprehend and absorb, I used an app on my phone to turn the BABOK into an audiobook (when the ePub version of the BABOK was still available).
    • And, of course, read the BABOK.
  • Where to study – it was helpful for me to separate myself from everyone to study.  Places I studied included:
    • After hours at work
    • Library – rooms can be reserved at various libraries
    • Coffee shops

Exam format - what I observed

  • Every question was about applying concepts – the length of questions ranged from as long as a paragraph to a page and a half long.  I estimate about 10 questions that were at least a page long.  Not one question on the exam I took was as easy as asking the definition of a term.
  • Exam simulator – a simulator helps you learn and helps you time yourself.  It’s a similar experience but the questions on the exam are tougher.  I used the Watermark exam simulator, but I think there are others available.  
  • Exam center – the exam room was made up of small cube desks.  You have to provide identification any time you go in the exam room.  They scan you with a wand to find anything on your person each time you go in and out of the exam room.

My advice

  • Start studying for the exam before you apply
    • Give yourself as much time as you can for each BABOK chapter.
    • Give yourself time to absorb the material and make the connections between all knowledge areas.
    • Leave yourself plenty of time to retake the exam if needed.
      • If you’re like me and get into a time crunch, or think you might need multiple stabs at the exam.  You get 3 tries before the end of your 1-year application period. 
  • Try to keep activities outside of studying to a minimum.
  • Take a class if you can.
  • Find out if your company will reimburse you for study materials, classes, and exam and application fees.
  • Once you pass, start thinking about Recertification right away.You have 3 years, but it will go by fast!See the Recertification Handbook for details.

I am happy to meet with or speak to anyone who would like my input on studying. Good luck and get going!