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 a 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® certification exam, 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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17 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!

      • So, this information on the PSI FAQ page is obsolete, right ?

        “For the Agile exam, you will receive your results in approximately 4 weeks while the passing score is determined. Thank you for your patience.”

        • You will find out right away whether or not you passed when you take the IIBA-AAC exam. There is no waiting period.

  2. Thank you for this! I would SOOO much rather go to a testing center than not be able to freely move, look, or mumble. My recall tends to be visual — I can all up the image in my mind and “read” it but not sure if I can do that looking at a screen with visual clutter.
    the CBAP was murder with it’s hair-splitting and “combination” answers. My anxiety level goes way down thinking I won’t have to deal with that!
    Could you say more about where it was asking you for a code you wouldn’t be given until later? Have they cleaned that up? Did you ever have to enter a code?

    • Hi Melissa. I do not know if the process still works as it did months ago and I haven’t heard from anyone else one way or the other. I suspect it’s been revised some but I don’t know for sure. I think you would find the IIBA-AAC to be considerably less stressful than the CBAP, even considering the remote proctoring constraints. Glad you found this helpful. Good luck!

      • Hi Andrea,
        The Watermark exam simulator makes me think that it’s not easy. Even if the exam duration and number of questions is lower, it still tests your ability to remember exactly a specific sentence from the Agile extension, the exact list of elements of a technique, when each concept applies, and so on. So, similarly to the CBAP it requires in-depth study and a very good memory.
        However, I passed the CBAP V2, and I was told that V3 is more difficult.
        What’s your thought about this ?

        • Hi Fabien.
          The key for the IIBA-AAC test is when the concepts apply and how to use them, not exact sentences from the Agile Extension. You also want to be very familiar with the horizons. My experience and that of my colleagues has been that this is an easier test than the PMP and CBAP. As with all of our exam simulations, we recommend practicing until you are scoring above 80% before taking the real test. I am not a CBAP so I cannot personally speak to the differences between v2 and v3.
          Good luck!

  3. Hi Andrea, thank you for sharing! This is very useful.

    Is there any term during which you have to take the exam after payment?
    I mean for example like for CBAP. You can register and pay for the exam any time, but you have 1 year to take the exam after payment is done. Is there something like this for IIBA-AAC?
    Thanks!

    • Hi Anastasiia.
      You are correct that the core BA certifications from IIBA, such as the CBAP, CCBA, and ECBA, all include a 1- year application period. There is no such application period for the IIBA-AAC. That is, you can pay now and take the test anytime – next week, next month, next year, two years from now…whenever. There is no application to expire.

      Be aware that the IIBA website does not make this clear. There is reference to an application period for the IIBA-AAC where they include information about “Cancellation, Reschedule, Missed or Late Policy.” However, I confirmed with IIBA that there is no such application period for the IIBA-AAC.

      Thanks for your inquiry. Hope that helps.

      • Hi Andrea,

        Thank you, your answer clears my question out.

        And yes, you are right. IIBA is not very clear on their website on the payment expiration for the IIBA-AAC Certification. And this confused me.

        Thanks a lot!

  4. Hi,

    I frankly don’t have time to read and digest the BABOK, but I want to boost my resume. I originally wanted to take the ECBA exam, but was discouraged because of the amount of work and reading. So I decided to take the AAC exam instead. My question is, I don’t have in-depth knowledge of Business Analysis, do I have to read the BABOK v3 in order to pass the AAC? Is the AAC an independent learning? I just passed the CAPM, with minimum experience in Business analysis, but moderate experience in Agile. What is your recommendation, do you think I can totally get away with just reading and studying the Agile Extension with some exam simulators, and not have to go through painful learning of the BABOK?

    • Good news: Definitely do not feel the need to take on the BABOK as prep for the IIBA-AAC! The Agile Extension is the only document you need to prepare for that exam. There is reference to BABOK techniques at the end of each Horizon chapter, an Appendix with a Map to BABOK Guide Tasks to Horizons, a few references to the BA Core Concept Model from the PMBOK, and some other shout outs to the BABOK, but that’s all they are. You do not need to spend any time with the BABOK as prep for that exam. The Agile Extension is the only source of prep for the IIBA-AAC.

  5. Hello Andrea,
    This blog is a true bundle of helpful information. Thank you for sharing your experience.
    I am an Agile experienced BA in deferral compensation administration products.

    Planning to take my first profession certification this year, However before I decide on which certificate to begin with, i want to understand the market recognition of IIBA-AAC certification.
    Will this add a feather to my career? also it would be great hep if you could suggest me few more career booster certis.

    Awaiting your response.

    • Hi Harsh.
      The IIBA-AAC is a relatively new certification so the numbers of people certified as IIBA-AACs is still quite low, but any certification from organizations like the International Institute of Business Analysis (or Project Management Institute) will be recognized by those who know anything about those disciplines. So, yes, I think it will be of value to you and recognized by others. Which other certifications to pursue is partly dependent on the type of experience you have had and your ability to meet the eligibility requirements, as well as your professional goals. If you do not have a lot of experience, the ECBA from IIBA is a great option. If you have more experience, the PMI-PBA is a great certification as is the CBAP.

      My colleague wrote a good article that you might find helpful as a starting point as you consider your career path as a BA. https://www.watermarklearning.com/blog/business-analysis-career-options/

      All the best to you and thanks for writing. I’m glad you found the article helpful!
      Andrea

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