Below is a list of frequently asked questions regarding the IIBA® Certification Exams. Many have come from past webinars on the topic. For questions regarding the new v3 certification program, visit IIBA's FAQ page.
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1. What is IIBA Certification and what types are available?
The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®) has created a competency-based certification program for people performing business analysis. The program includes four levels of credentials, three of which involve a written examination process.
The above data was based on information provided by IIBA at http://www.iiba.org/Certification-Recognition/certification2016.aspx.
2. What is the difference between the various IIBA credentials?
The above table briefly explains the purpose of each credential. The three exam-based ones emphasize different things. The CBAP exam has many case study and scenario-based questions that require candidates to apply their knowledge of the BABOK®. The CCBA exam contains some scenarios, and more knowledge- and recall-oriented questions about tasks and techniques in the BABOK. The ECBA exam is strictly knowledge- and recall-based. The CBATL does not have an exam and no details have been released, as of the time when this was published.
We have created several new scenario and case study questions in our Online Study Exams to help candidates prepare for these, in addition to the knowledge-based questions. Our recall-type questions and explanations help candidates understand the BABOK so they can apply that knowledge to answering the more difficult scenario/case study questions.
3. What is the value of certification?
The IIBA web site has a section devoted to benefits of certification. We would add a benefit that BAs show a commitment to our profession, which has been reported as an important factor to senior management.
4.Why are the certifications changing for v3?
What it takes to be successful today is different than it used to be. It's more complicated and there is more competition in the industry. IIBA has worked to create a competency-based certification framework to identify what you can do, not just what you know. This framework allows the BA professional to demonstrate their ability to perform and prove they can apply their experience in a given situation. Your experience has value and this new framework shows that!
5. How do I sign up for the exam and what does it cost?
The exam is the final requirement for IIBA certification and anyone desiring to take an exam must first apply for certification and pass the initial screening process. Once the IIBA determines your qualifications to sit for an exam, you must schedule with the official testing agency to reserve a date for a computerized exam. You will receive an email with instructions once your reservation is approved. Visit www.IIBA.org for the complete process.
See Table 2 below for fees and other application requirements. Note: candidates can save money on the cost of the exam by applying for IIBA membership. The cost of membership is $95/year. Costs are subject to change without notice. Check with www.IIBA.org for the current prices.
6. What are the education or work experience requirements needed?
To be eligible for ECBA, CBAP, or CCBA Certification, you must meet the following requirements:
7. What is the best way to demonstrate that I meet the experience hours requirement?
You need 3,750 or 7,500 hours spent on business activities for levels 2 and 3, and not just working hours. IIBA has online applications to complete with project information. The form asks for information such as project name, start/end date, your role, project organization and contact, and project hours spent doing business analysis tasks as well as describing the tasks and your deliverables. The IIBA audits a certain number of applications, so the hours you list should be as accurate as possible. Visit our CBAP Resources page to download a complimentary application worksheet to help you organize your hours.
Note: The application process is changing for version 3 credentials, so look for further updates and tips from us. The unofficial word is that the process will be simpler than under version 2.
8. Should I put down any non-BA hours on my application?
Note: this information was true for CBAP and CCBA v2 applications. As of this writing, IIBA has not released their v3 application, so the following may not completely apply.
Here is the situation. If you indicate any non-BA tasks, the IIBA will deduct a proportionate percentage of hours from your reported project hours. Let us say you worked 1000 hours on a project, and indicated 3 tasks, 2 of which were BA work and one was a PM task. The IIBA will then deduct 33% or 333 hours from your 1000 hours, leaving you a net of only 667 hours to count towards your total. Take this into account as you report hours and tasks on your application. Our advice: only report BA tasks and only BA hours to avoid having any hours deducted. See the IIBA's own FAQ document for more information on www.IIBA.org for details on this.
9. Do I need experience in all of the Knowledge Areas to apply?
No, the IIBA has established you need 900+ hours in at least 4 of the 6 core Knowledge Areas (KAs) to apply for the CBAP. For the CCBA, you need 900+ hours in 2 of the core KAs or 500+ hours in 4 of the 6 core KAs. See Table 2 above for more information.
10. How long does it take to get approved to take the exam once you complete the application?
Upon receiving your application, the IIBA will assess it for completeness and fulfillment of the certification requirements for the level in which you are applying. Once your online application shows that all requirements have been met (i.e. there is a green check mark in each of the requirements sections), you will be able to submit your application and pay the application fee. Once payment is processed by IIBA, you will immediately receive an email saying either you are approved OR you are approved pending audit.
11. What counts towards the required 21 or 35 professional development hours?
Any business analysis training topic, such as requirements elicitation, requirements analysis or modeling courses, requirements planning/managing, etc. Training on related fields such as project management or software testing do not count towards the 21 hours. Virtually all Watermark Learning BA courses apply to the hours requirement. Contact us if you have any questions.
12. Can we send the CBAP application without having the needed hours, and once accepted, then take the course that gives us 35 hours?
You must have the 35 hours of courses (or 21 for ECBA or CCBA) before you submit your application. You do not need to submit a course certificate with your application, but be prepared to provide one if you are audited.
13. Why do the hours of work experience required have to be in the last 7-10 years?
IIBA wants to make sure that your work experience is ongoing and current, which is why the work experience is required within the last 7 (CCBA) to 10 (CBAP) years.
14. Why did the minimum hours of Professional Development increase for CBAP v3?
As part of the new certification framework, IIBA realized that CBAP (level 3) would require more hours as it requires more development, more knowledge, and more competencies for each task than CCBA (level 2). The exam focuses more on scenarios and case studies to test applicants on their ability to apply their knowledge – not just recall it.
15. Can I use your CBAP study materials to study for the CCBA exam?
Yes! According to the IIBA, the blueprint for the CCBA exam is very similar to that of the Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) exam. Specifically, the CCBA exam is different from the CBAP exam in that the CCBA exam presents more knowledge-based, recall questions drawing from the concepts presented in the BABOK® Guide. The CBAP exam also has case studies that the ECBA and CCBA exams do not. All IIBA exams rely heavily on the BABOK Guide for the basis of test questions. Because our CBAP products and courses thoroughly cover the BABOK® Guide, they are an excellent tool for preparing you for the CCBA exam.
16. Is it enough to read and study only the BABOK Guide, as I have heard? Or should I be studying other sources of knowledge about the topics in the BABOK Guide?
The BABOK Guide should be your main resource and it will provide much of the reference material you need. Watermark Learning's CBAP Certification Study Guide (3rd Edition) is another resource we recommend of course, and is highly focused on the BABOK and the IIBA exams. More general BA books that might help include: Mastering the Requirements Process (2nd Edition) by Suzanne and James Robertson, Software Requirements, Second Edition, by Karl Wiegers and Joy Beatty, and Practitioner’s Guide to Requirements Management by Elizabeth and Richard Larson.
17. Where can we access a formal class to prepare for the exam? Are they offered by the IIBA?
Watermark Learning has formal CBAP Prep classes and CCBA Prep classes scheduled throughout the year. We offer these classes in person and live online over the internet. The IIBA does not provide any formal training.
18. Are there practice exams readily available, and how can I get them? Does the IIBA provide sample tests through the website?
The IIBA provides sample exam questions for their version 3 exams. Refer to their website by clicking the link for the applicable exam below.
There are online exams available, including our own. We suggest you make sure to find exams developed by people or companies such as Watermark Learning who are CBAP-certified and IIBA EEPs. That way you will be more likely to have realistic CBAP exam simulations. Our CBAP Online Study Exam and CCBA Online Study Exam are a great way to prepare, with three study modes, including a realistic exam simulator. We have over 1,150 questions in our v3 CBAP and CCBA Online Study Exams available to give you experience with the types of questions you will see on the 3.0 exams. Watch for a release of our ECBA Online Study Exam soon.
19. Do you recommend any books to help prepare for the certification that would contain practice questions for the exam?
Watermark Learning's CBAP Certification Study Guide, Third Edition, provides several practice questions. It also includes a 5-day trial subscription to our CBAP Online Study Exam, which contains 1,150+ questions for further practice. Be prepared to spend 80-100+ hours reading, studying, memorizing, and taking practice exams. Download a copy of our complimentary CBAP and CCBA Preparation Roadmap on our CBAP/CCBA Resources page.
20. Are there any suggestions you have that a study group can follow for local chapters?
It seems to work best to divide up the BABOK Guide section by section, and assign a section a week for the group to read and review. Have one person lead each section and prepare an overview of the section and lead a discussion. Some groups practice by creating and taking exam questions, and others use exam questions from our Guide or Online Study Exam for practice. If you participate in a book club, the process is similar, only you are reading to pass the CBAP or CCBA, not for fun!
21. Where can I get the BABOK book to study for the exam?
You can download it from the IIBA website. Visit www.IIBA.org and click the “BABOK Guide” menu to find ways to obtain it. The BABOK is also available on bookstore outlets like Amazon.com.
22. What is a good time frame for study prior to taking the exam?
An "ideal" span is around 3-4 months or more, depending on your approach. Plan on spending around 100 hours preparing, which is the average range we found in two research studies. You can lessen this time with a class and using our CBAP Online Study Exam or our CCBA Online Study Exam. If you plan on just using the BABOK or joining a study group, plan on at least 6+ months. That gives you plenty of time to study in a relaxed manner and requires the least "overtime" to study. A person could also do it in 4-6 weeks, but then be prepared to study nights and weekends, or to take entire days off to read, study, memorize, and take practice exams.
23. Do you feel a CBAP or CCBA prep course will shorten the 3-6 month study time needed?
Yes, we do! Taking a CBAP or CCBA prep class, especially in conjunction with using an online exam simulator, can reduce your study time to under 100 hours and the duration to 3 months or less. It does so because it will help you focus on the critical areas to study for the exam. It also helps you develop your own best method for preparing for the exam vs. wasting time to possibly discover your own method. Another benefit of a class is taking practice exams in a simulated test environment and discussing the rationale for the answers with your CBAP-certified instructor. There is also the added benefit of learning from the questions asked by other students.
24. How many questions are on the version 3.0 exam?
The CBAP has 120 questions, the CCBA has 130, and the ECBA has 50 questions. See Table 3 below for percentages of questions by Knowledge Area.
25. What are the 3.0 exams based on?
All IIBA exams are based mostly-to-completely on the tasks and techniques identified in the BABOK, version 3.0, which was released April 15, 2015. As noted separately, all three exams contain knowledge and fact questions. The CCBA and CBAP exams include many situational questions, and the CBAP exam will have lengthy case studies followed by 3-5 questions. Scenarios and case studies will test your ability to apply the BABOK information to realistic situations.
The current exams switched over to the 3.0 versions on Sept. 30, 2016. While most information for the CBAP and CCBA exams is contained in the BABOK, it is not the sole source of questions on the two exams. The ECBA exam has 25% of its questions based on sources other than the BABOK, as shown in Table 3. The BABOK references other sources that CBAP candidates may find helpful. See also the short list of BA references elsewhere in these FAQs for some suggested resources to read.
The above numbers are taken from IIBA at http://www.iiba.org/certificationblueprints.aspx.
26. What percentage is required to pass IIBA exams?
The IIBA has not published percentages in the past and may not in the future. Assume you will need to score 70% or better to pass.
27. What is the overall first time pass rate of those taking the CBAP or CCBA?
The latest numbers we have heard put the pass rate at over 80%. Note that is not an official number - just our best guess. It is high partly because the IIBA screens applications so well and demands so many years of experience. Our records at Watermark Learning show our customers pass at a 97% rate if they use our materials.
For more information, check out these web pages: