IIBA Agile Analyst Certification Journey

My IIBA-Agile Analysis Certification (IIBA-AAC) Journey


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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Andrea Brockmeier, PMP, CSM, PMI-PBA, BRMP is the Director of Project Management for Watermark Learning. Andrea is an experienced trainer, facilitator, speaker, and project manager, with over 25 years of business experience. Andrea oversees certification and skills development curriculum in project management, business analysis, and leadership. She has been a speaker at IIBA® and PMI® conferences and is an active volunteer. She enjoys practicing what she teaches and has a steady stream of projects that she manages. Andrea is highly committed to partnering with her clients through projects, consulting, and training, and seeks to make every engagement enjoyable as well as valuable.

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

Andrea Brockmeier, PMP, CSM, PMI-PBA, BRMP is the Director of Project Management for Watermark Learning. Andrea is an experienced trainer, facilitator, speaker, and project manager, with over 25 years of business experience. Andrea oversees certification and skills development curriculum in project management, business analysis, and leadership. She has been a speaker at IIBA® and PMI® conferences and is an active volunteer. She enjoys practicing what she teaches and has a steady stream of projects that she manages. Andrea is highly committed to partnering with her clients through projects, consulting, and training, and seeks to make every engagement enjoyable as well as valuable.


    1. 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.

    1. 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!

      1. 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.”

        1. 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?

    1. 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!

      1. 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 ?

        1. 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?

    1. 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.

      1. 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?

    1. 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.

    1. 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!

  6. Hi Andrea,

    I watched your vlog about the AAC exam. It sounds like a lot of rules! It might be hard for someone like me who talks to my self. Do they have to see my two hands too?

  7. Hi Andera,
    I want to thank you for sharing your experience with the IIBA-AAC.
    I just earned my PMP certificate and I am planning to get the IIBA-AAC.
    I wonder what are the requirements to be eligible for the exam? is as the PMP certificate?
    How long do you think it will take to prepare for the exam if you have a few shallow knowledge about the agile approach. I do agree that you have to be ready and prepared for the exam. no matter how easy is the exam or difficult.
    I appreciate your help.

    1. Hello Heba.
      Congratulations on earning your PMP certification! That is quite an accomplishment. You will likely find the IIBA-AAC an easier exam experience. There is no requirement for documentation of experience or education. Also, the only document you need to use for preparation is the Agile Extension to the BABOK Guide v2, which is considerably lighter reading than the PMBOK Guide.

      We recommend studying until you are scoring over 80% on our online practice tests. I don’t know how long it will take you to get to that point, but it probably won’t take you as much time as it did for your PMP.

      The IIBA-AAC will be a great addition to your resume and, like any certification journey, you will find the preparation process enormously valuable as it will require you to learn and understand best practices in whatever discipline you are studying, i.e., working as a BA in an agile environment. Everything you need to know for the IIBA-AAC certification, including requirements, can be found online https://www.iiba.org/certification/iiba-certifications/specialized-business-analysis-certifications/agile-analysis/

      All the best to you and, again, congratulations!

  8. It’s a 2-hour exam with 85 multiple-choice questions.
    How many questions out of 85 do you need to get correctly to pass the exam? Im trying to understand what the passing percentage is.

    1. Hello.
      The passing percentage for the IIBA-AAC is not published or made available. This is pretty consistent with other professional certification exams. I usually tell my students it doesn’t really matter what the passing score is. Study until you are comfortable with the material and are scoring 80% or better on practice tests. Use the practice tests to gauge how you’re doing and build confidence. Remember: You’re not aiming for perfection, you need to do well enough. You’ll get some wrong and that’s OK.

      Good luck and thanks for writing.

  9. Hi andrea, i am ECBA certified but lack any BA experience whatsoever, IIBA recommends this course for professionals with 2-3 years of agile experience.Do you recommend i go for this?

    1. Hello. Congratulations on your ECBA! That’s a great cert, too. ?

      Rather than thinking about your work as a BA, think in terms of your work in an agile environment. If you have any agile experience you almost certainly have done BA work, so that might be a better perspective. The experience they suggest provides context for the agile mindset that you need to pass the test. They note that the ideal candidate has at least 2 years of experience, but that’s a recommendation. I would take a look at the Agile Extension and see what you think. Does it feel familiar? If it’s overwhelming then perhaps wait a bit and get some experience under your belt. If the concepts are familiar (note the terms may be a little different) then go for it!

      Good luck to you!

      1. Thanks for the prompt and elaborate reply andrea. Ive started to go through the agile ext and find it less stressful than BABOK, however i have no agile experience either to boast of. Well, i need to start somewhere and im going for it. If i may ask, how would you rate the difficulty level compared to ECBA?

  10. Hi Andrea,

    Thank you for taking the time to share your experience with us, I just passed the ECBA without going through the techniques chapter, when it comes to the Agile exam do I rely on using the techniques in my answers?


    1. Congrats on earning your ECBA! Yes, I would recommend spending time understanding the techniques for the AAC exam. They will be folded into the questions for each horizon. Even though it isn’t specified as to how many questions will pertain to techniques specifically, you will need to be familiar with them as they will be referenced in the questions.
      Good luck to you!

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