Diary of a CBAP-Seeker: Facilitating study groups to explore the BABOK

Dear Diary: After the CBAP class I took, my instructor, Linda, offered to open some time in her web meeting utility for us classmates to have a study group to review the material. This informal start has blossomed into a full virtual study group that has members from across the globe. The insight from many members is great, and I’m learning much from my peers.

The last article I posted had me confessing that I was drowning and overwhelmed in the material for the BABOK. That continues to be an after effect of the total immersion process that I started with employing various learning techniques. However, I think there is still great value in this method and hope that when the time comes to sit for the exam, I won’t embarrass myself by failing it.

My individual studies have definitely faltered; the one-on-one reading with the BABOK document is so mundane that I often knock my forehead on the table as I fall asleep. Perhaps this is the reason for only minor retention of what I am reading at the time. I know, though, that I will need to return to it for a deep dive into the data again.

Meanwhile, my endeavors have taken me into the world of study groups. I got involved in the one that I am currently in as a way to summarize and digest the information obtained in a recently completed class. Once the instructor started to publicly promote the group, we began to see a whole host of people from all over take interest and get involved….some more so than others.

Group dynamics are an important aspect of learning in this environment, whether it is in-person or online. As with any group, we have seen many people express interest in joining up only to never attend, contribute or communicate. There is a core of the group’s members that is present and engaged consistently, and they provide substantial value to the BABOK education effort. We have also proactively tried to address the fact that different people learn in different ways: visually, audibly, and kinesthetically. Allowing the delivery mechanism from each presenter to be flexible has broadened our collective ability to learn and expose those of us to new ways to do so.

We’ve taken the accountability approach for our group, in which each person is expected to learn a section of the BABOK, create a presentation in the format of their choice and present it to the group. As we’ve settled in with one another, we’ve added the task for those not presenting to bring quiz questions about the same section forward to the group. After each presentation, there is in-depth conversation about life experiences and how they apply to or mirror the topic content. It’s this latter part that provides the greatest value for me. Many times in the BABOK, if there is something I don’t know or have not experienced, the lack of example leaves me wondering about the exact context of the content in the document. The interaction with peers in the study group really ties that together for me and helps me understand the topic content and view it in different ways. There have been several conversations about BABOK content that have really opened my eyes on how to use the knowledge in different ways, and this can only be obtained through interaction with other practitioners. Why is that?

I think that we all learn from one another in personal life and in the workplace. We can emulate our peers, mentors, teachers, and managers; but in doing so we only get part of the story. A solid explanation and interactive dialog is really required to understand all the intricacies of what we are trying to learn. As in life, the study group activities demand that the students provide the basis for discussion, in order that we fledgling students, and often experienced analysts, understand the nuances to performing a task or completing an objective. For those members that have never executed a specific task, the activity comes to life in a way that is generally not captured in dry, technical documentation, that allows the listener to comprehend what occurs and how it is resolved. Those that have performed something already learn new ways to address the opportunity and betters ways to obtain information and use it.

Collectively, all this interaction binds the BABOK content to the brain in ways that cannot be obtained reading a document or sitting in a classroom. All is not lost, however; the knowledge gained is applicable back to the BABOK while reading it and the student is able to approach the content with new views that enhance the learning process.

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  1. Kimberley Heath says

    Hi Doug,

    As you know I attended a few of your CBAP study groups last year during the chaos of the holidays, which was a bit too much for me to take on at the time. I enjoyed reading this article and glad you shared your experiences here, as it has deepened my appreciation of your efforts!

    Do you have any advice for me, as I am considering hosting a CBAP study group to review the BABOK in my local area. I’d like to hear your insights for making the CBAP group a more engaging and enjoyable experience.


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