Feedback Received on CBAP Exam Experience (bolded are the CBAP Exam Writer’s
comments and my questions are italicized:
The practice tests were fairly similar to the real exam, though I'd say the real one
was a bit trickier. It was all electronic -- like filling out an online survey. There was
an option to "flag" a question for later review, so I went through all the questions
once, then came back to the flagged ones and was able to navigate directly from
flagged question to flagged question. I marked a third of them for a second pass,
because I wanted to make sure I got through all the questions before I spent too
long on any single question.
The testing center provided a small white board and marker for my notes. On
some of the questions where there were multiple pieces of every answer (as in
"What are the inputs to this task"), I ended up making a list of everything I knew
had to be there, and a list of the leftovers and as I marked off the leftovers as
invalid, I also disqualified the answers that referred to them and used this to
reason out some of my answers. Since you don't get the chance to see the test
and the answers, I have no idea whether that was truly successful, but I suspect it
got me closer to the right answer.
There were several questions about the competencies, a question about Maslow's
hierarchy of needs (which caught me off-guard), some situational questions
where they start with a story and then ask questions about techniques, etc..
Several glossary/definitions. The one that I had to really think about was a
question that asked what the definitions of two terms were. It was a pair of the
business ones from the set of Business goal, Business Need, Business Policy,
Business Rule. I had studied those, but wasn't expecting to have to define two in
the same question. There were some questions about modeling techniques as
well, and one was detailed enough that the answers referred to which way arrows
would be pointing in a particular type of model.
Many of the questions I could answer right off the bat, and many others I could
figure out with some careful, slow reading of the question and the answers. I felt
more confident about the 49 I had flagged for review after my second pass. If I
had to guess on how I scored, I would say 70-75%.
My test was scheduled for 1:30, but I had to be checked in by 12:45. They let me
start the test as soon as I got there, so I started early. There was a counter on the
computer screen to let me know how much time I had left. There was an option to
hide that display as well, for those who find it distracting. When I was completely
done with my first and second passes, I still had 45 minutes available. I clicked
"submit", and then got a survey about the testing facilities. I quickly finished and
submitted that, and then a message came up indicating that I had passed the
I took your second practice test the day before I took the real test, and scored
right about 80%. I only brushed up on a few things after that, so you were right in
predicting that if we scored 80% on your test, we would likely pass the CBAP test.
Thanks so much for sharing your experience. This information will provide insights that
I can pass along to CBAP candidates. A few follow-up questions come to mind:
You mentioned that you were given the small whiteboard and marker. Were you
allowed to bring in a blank paper and pencil as well?
I have heard from another individual that the questions seen around the
Underlying Competencies seemed to be subjective and could not reconcile any
answers to the BABOK. Did you find that to be true?
Just wanted to confirm with you that instructing CBAP candidates to be aware of
the inputs and outputs for the KA tasks are as important as I perceived. I am
thinking you agree due to comment below but just wanted to double check.
Thanks for your willingness to share and further other CBAP candidates!
The instructions from Castle indicated that it would not be permissible to bring
paper or a writing instrument, so I didn't even try. I just asked if they had
something I could write on and with. The instructions also said no recording
devices, no cell phones, no watches, no jackets or hoodies (no outerwear with
pockets), and a few others. However, when I got to the testing center, they
seemed less suspicious and only told me to turn off my cell phone (which I had
already left in the car)
I didn't find the competency questions difficult, and was pretty confident in my
answer in most cases. There was one "how would you handle this scenario" type
of question that seemed to be based on the competencies and I had a hard time
deciding between what I personally would do and one other answer.
Oh yes, I'd already told the folks here to know their inputs/outputs and that some
of the trickier questions were along the lines of "What are the inputs to this task"
with multiple-element answers like:
A. Business case; Stakeholder List, Roles, Responsibilities; Assumptions;
B. Stakeholder List, Roles; Responsibilities; Assumptions; Stated Requirements;
Business Analysis Plan
C. Business Analysis Plan; Stakeholder List, Roles, Responsibilities;
Assumptions; Communication Plan
D. Business case; Stakeholder List, Roles, Responsibilities; Assumptions;
Stated Requirements; Communications Plan
This is where I noted in one list the elements that appeared in all answers:
Stakeholder List, Roles, Responsibilities
And in a second list, I listed the elements that appeared in some but not all
Business Analysis plan
As I disqualified the elements in the second list, I also disqualified the answers
that included them.
Incidentally, as I was reviewing the material, here was my study plan:
Master the flash cards (except for the technique and task input/out ones)
Then, I started with chapter 7 of the BABOK first, because that was where I knew
the info had not sunk in. (I had mentally checked out that afternoon!)
I made a list of the chapters and the techniques and as the techniques were
referenced in the KA chapters, I reviewed them and marked them off the
I didn't review the KA chapters in order, but paired a challenging chapter with an
easier chapter on the days I needed to study two chapters (i.e., I paired Ch 7 with
There were plenty of questions about the Knowledge Area tasks, inputs, and
outputs. I did not call them out specifically in my earlier email because I was
assuming that was a "given". Several questions were nearly identical to the flash
cards, so make sure you don't neglect those when studying.
A few observations:
1. The concepts you covered in class and the prep exam are good and were a good prep for the
2. Lots of q's on inputs and techniques. Good amount on glossaries.
3. I was surprised at how many q's on competencies -- maybe 10-15?
4. No real issues with the clarity of the wording like I had with yours ... I still think your exams
would benefit from having a copy editor review the q's.
5. I was surprised how many times a phrase came like "what is the BEST" or "what is the FIRST
thing you must consider" or "what is the MOST important reason". etc. they used those words
repeatedly (maybe 25 times?. They were always in CAPs and bolded. I don't recall seeing
anything like that on your tests.
6. They had a series of 3 or 4 questions all based on one scenario. The scenario was described
in a few paragraphs, and then there were several questions that came at it from different angles,
tasks, or competencies.
7. The trickiness of the questions wasn't in the wording so much as in the concepts. Those
BEST, FIRST, MOST q's threw me a bit because I wasn't prepared to think in terms of
absolutes. BA's always think in terms of "it depends", right? In any case, I wondered if I
actually went back and searched for those words in BABOK if I'd find any instances of them.
8. I got through the q's in just over 2.5 hours. I flagged about 1/3 of them for review, and spent
45 mins on them.
9. I spent a lot of time studying the flashcards -- this helped give me a basis conceptually of the
main ideas. I then re-read or scanned all the chapters. This helped, too. I wish I'd spent a bit
more time in the chapters. I actually did worse on my last practice test then I did the last day of
class (4% worse) so I was worried. I think having a break for 7 days with no studying hurt me,
but I studied for a whole week after that and still didn't get back to the level of the first practice
test. I think the main takeaway here is to not wait too long after the prep course before you take
That's it. Thanks again for your course -- it really helped
On the exam day, I felt like almost all questions had BA concepts embedded in scenarios and
made me relate them to real life experience and select the appropriate answers. I personally liked
that as it tests the logical ability to apply best practice to real life BA activities. As far as exam
structure goes, there were about 15 questions on techniques and glossary, 4-5 questions on
competencies, 9-10 questions on process modeling, 10 questions from three project scenarios, a
question on Marslow's hierarchy of needs and rest of the questions were about elements,
input/output of BA knowledge areas. There were few questions deliberately twisted e.g. for
showing cardinality in ERD diagrams, the crow's foot was expanded to the edges of entity
rectangle and it looked like a triangle (as if it's a new notation). There was other question on
decision analysis techniques where ' IRR' was expanded as Internal role of return (Correct
expansion is Internal rate of return).
I finished first pass in about 2.5 hrs and marked 38 questions for later review. Then, I took a 10
minutes break and worked all answers thoroughly and submitted my exam just 2 minutes before
deadline. It then asked me to complete a survey on test facilities and after submitting the survey,
next page displayed that I passed the exam and IIBA will mail out a certificate in next few
Overall, flash cards helped me solidify the techniques and input/output of BA tasks but multiple
readings of BABoK proved to be the key to correctly answer the tricky questions. I took second
practice test a day before the test and score a little over 70% and made me review highlighted
text in BABoK from boot camp sessions. Next day during the exam, it proved to be a big
advantage as all key items were fresh in my memory.
Based on my experience in real CBAP exam, I would suggest following improvement items for
Add more scenarios based questions in sections tests and both final tests.
Include more techniques that are not in BABoK but used in BA activities.
Add more questions on elements and use of output tasks in other KAs.
If possible add a flow chart starting from inputs to BAP&M and link it to KAs that uses
its output as input though to SA&V. This will help test takers in visualizing the end to
end process flow and logical relationship that exists among KA tasks.