Watermark Learning Blog

Andrea Brockmeier, PMP, CSM, PMI-ACP, PMI-PBA, BRMP, IIBA-AAC

Even after having earned many certifications in a variety of fields, I still find each journey to be unique in some way. In this article, I share a few observations about my recent experience on the road to the International Institute of Business Analysis® – Agile Analysis Certification, the IIBA®-AAC.

 

The Application Process

This is a pretty new certification, just having been released in the summer of 2018. As of this article, there were only 110 names on the registry of certified IIBA-AACs. That likely explains the clunky process for applying for the exam.

I expect the process will be greatly improved and streamlined sometime in the not-too-distant future, so your experience may not resemble mine. If you do move ahead before the process is improved, be aware that it is a lot of emailing back and forth for each little step. I kept a log of what I had to do prior to taking the exam:

  • Registered online at 8:30am Monday.
  • Received email saying I would get request to submit payment within 2 business days.
  • Received email on Wednesday telling me that I could now pay for the exam.
  • Sent payment via PayPal and received receipt.
  • Per the request, sent an email confirming I had paid to certification@iiba.org and the financial person who sent the email about making the payment.
  • Then received email from IIBA saying I was eligible to take the exam.
  • Went to PSI site and registered (NOTE: MUST USE CHROME). To check system requirements it asked for a code, but I didn’t get the code until I scheduled the exam. I just skipped that step 2 and went to step 3 to check my system.
  • Decided to reschedule so logged and selected reschedule, which cancelled my exam. Then used link in cancellation email to reschedule.

So, the process works, but it’s not exactly elegant. I will say it was nice to be able to schedule the exam anytime and then be able to reschedule within 24 hours. That was slick. I took the test on a Sunday.

 

Prepping for the Exam

Three things set me up for success with this exam.

  1. Read the Source Content
    The only document that you really need to spend significant time with is the Agile Extension to the BABOK® Guide. It’s a relatively short document (compared to the BABOK® Guide or the PMBOK® Guide, for example), and it’s not a particularly hard read. But you definitely need to be familiar with the content, especially the first six chapters. The techniques are important, but less so than the other sections on the agile mindset, 7 principles of agile business analysis, horizons, Business Analysis Core Concept Model (BACCM™), and how they are all related.
  1. Flashcards
    I used the Watermark IIBA-AAC Flashcards, which were very helpful to hone in on key terms and concepts. In addition, I got a couple hundred blank note cards and created my own flash cards by capturing key concepts and terms as I studied. When I ran across something I wanted to remember, I wrote the term or idea on a card and put the answer or clue on the back, along with the page reference in the Agile Extension. I have always found this process to be indispensable in prepping for an exam.
  1. Online Exam Simulation
    Practice exams are key to prepping for certification exams, and the IIBA-AAC is no exception. Watermark’s IIBA-AAC Online Exam Simulation was excellent at preparing me for the types of questions I saw. They were well written and at least as difficult as the real exam, if not a little harder.

 

Learn more about our IIBA-ACC certification resources

 

Taking the Exam

It’s a 2-hour exam with 85 multiple-choice questions, and it is administered remotely. That is, you take the test online with a webcam and a proctor watches you remotely. The questions are what I’d call “scenario lite.” Most of them have a couple of sentences providing some context, but they aren’t detailed or lengthy. Per usual, with this type of test, the answer includes 4 mutually-exclusive choices. There is no “all of the above,” or “none of the above.” It’s either a, b, c, or d.

By far, the most challenging aspect of the exam had to do with the remote proctoring. I felt very constrained in terms of what I could and couldn’t do while taking the exam. It was nice to be able to do it at home on a Sunday afternoon, as opposed to having to go to a testing center, but there were definitely frustrations, as well.

For example, I could not talk to myself, look away from the screen, or rest my head on my hand or cover up my mouth in any way. In fact, I could not even move my lips while reading – even when I wasn’t actually making noise! As someone who thinks out loud and likes to look out the window while thinking through or trying to remember something, this was super hard!

 

See my vlog to get more info on my remote test proctoring experience.

 

I took almost 90 minutes of the 2 hours, which included review of the few questions I had marked. Overall, the IIBA-AAC exam is certainly easier than others I’ve taken, such as the PMP® or the PMI-PBA®, but I’m always reticent to say that any test is easy. Still, this did not require the effort that I have put into other certifications.

My IIBA-AAC journey is done and, as always, I’m glad I did it. The process of preparing you for a certification exam helps develop a cohesive and comprehensive understanding of the core concepts underpinning the exam. In this case, refining an understanding of how to apply an agile mindset in the work of business analysis is time well spent!

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4 thoughts on “My IIBA-Agile Analysis Certification (IIBA-AAC) Journey

    • Hi Rahul. Yes, you do find out immediately if you passed or failed. However, I have not yet received details about how I did or how I performed in each section. It was my understanding that we would get a report at some point, but I have not yet heard. I will see what I can find out and post any new information about what I learn here. Thanks for asking! Andrea

  1. Hi Andrea,

    Thanks for the blog post, I have also watched your vlog post, they are both useful and full of insights for us future test-takers. My question is, is there any estimate or at least a guesstimate on right answer percentage to pass the exam yet?

    Also, what do you think about the general structure of the questions, are they as hard as, say, PMP or CBAP exam? By “hard” I especially refer to the cases where two or more answer choices really close to each other and the test taker should have a deep understanding of the respective concept to choose the right one.

    • Hi Abasi.

      No, I have not yet heard anything about the percentage correct needed to pass.

      As to the difficulty of the exam, this exam is considerably easier than the PMP or CBAP exam. The questions are 1-2 sentences for set up and the answers are very brief. So if you are familiar with PMP or CBAP types of experiences, you will find this to be much, much easier. It’s still an exam, so I never like to say it’s easy, but it’s definitely easier. Plus, you only need to study the Agile Extension for prep. There is nothing like the PMBOK or BABOK that you have to wade through and understand.

      Thanks for asking. Good luck!

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