I wish I could report how I did, but that information will not be available until after the pilot is completed in August. I feel it went pretty well. I hope so. (Update: I passed!) Having earned two previous certifications and having taught certification preparation training courses for a couple of years now, I should have some advantage in the test preparation and successful test completion. If you never hear from me on the subject again, then be very suspicious.
I was confident, but not careless, so I did prepare. The purpose of this article is to share my preparation and high-level observations from the test. The main focus of my preparation was on the PMBOK® Guide, as it relates to the exam content published by PMI. The below table represents the exam content by domain and tasks with reference to the relevant content in the A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)—Fifth Edition. (Click the image below to expand.)
Note: Task names listed on the chart are derived from PMI® domain descriptions. PMI® has not yet published official task titles. This table will be updated when this becomes final and available. See the PMI-PBA® Content Outline for full descriptions.
Another reference I used to prepare was the Knowledge and Skills section of the PMI-PBA® Content Outline. Specifically, I looked through the tools and techniques listed to create a master list of tools and techniques I may need to know for the test. The vast majority of these were familiar to me as a CBAP and CBAP Preparation instructor. There were a handful of tools and techniques that were new to me, and I took some time to study up on these. In hindsight, this review provided some help, but not a significant amount. Those without significant exposure and experience with the tools and techniques will find this a critical step in studying for the exam.
The PMI-PBA exam was a typical certification exam requiring me to slow down, review the question, analyze the answer, and then select what the best of the available answers were. In a few instances, there was a single clear-cut answer (YAY!). Many more questions, however, required me to eliminate answers to get to one or two choices for the best answer. Questions were designed to ensure that the test taker understands how to apply knowledge and best practices in business analysis. This means a lot of situational questions. Themes included traceability, impact analysis, stakeholder management, and change control.
Bottom line! If the tasks and tools and techniques listed in the exam content have not been your focus in work or education, additional preparation time and effort will be necessary. Project managers who have done business analysis will need to spend some time to ensure they understand the practice of business analysis separate from the project management role.
Upcoming Resources and Classes!
Watermark Learning has launched a project to develop a certification preparation course and online study exam. The process for studying and sitting for the PMI-PBA exam gives us great ideas on how to best build our preparation course curriculum to meet the needs of future PMI-PBAs. Our online study exam is targeted to be online in August 2014. Our pilot preparation course is also targeted to be open for registration in August and the course held in September 2014.
The following graphic provides information on additional Watermark courses that you can take now to begin to prepare. Please keep in mind the professional development requirement for the certification is 35 hours. You will likely need to supplement the preparation course (typically 21 hours) with additional professional development to meet the requirement.
PMI has provided a reference list on the PMI-PBA page. A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge® (BABOK® Guide) and Practitioner’s Guide to Requirements Management, 2nd Edition are two additional resources that I recommend.
Also see our PMI-PBA resources page for a more exhaustive list of available resources.