As I mentioned last week, my major goals for week 3 were as follows:
- Submit CBAP Application
- Initial Absorption of Solutions Assessment and Validation
- Exam simulation for the above and BA Planning and Monitoring
There’s no turning back once you hit submit…
First off, I submitted the application. The second reference came through and I hope he said good things about me. I did a final review and hit submit. Yes, once you hit submit there are NO changes. This was a big moment. Now just 21 business days until I find out the results. That seems like a woefully long time…but no reason to pause on my studying.
Absorption and the BOK
Exam preparation consumed most of my energy this week. As I started doing what I’m calling the “absorption” of the BABOK, which is essentially a deep read along with detailed hand-written notes (this is just how I learn best), I realized I didn’t have a clue if what I was learning was enough to pass the exam. Sure I felt a bit smarter and more aware. I definitely read a few things that surprised me and was doing pretty good at “being the BOK.” But was this all I needed to know or was I missing something?
I think anyone who uses a self-study approach is going to feel this lack of confidence. It’s like, I “get it” but do I really get it? And what we mean is, will I be able to transform this newfound knowledge of business analysis (which really doesn’t feel all that new, just different terms than I’m used to using), into successfully passing the exam?
Because again, this exam is not about writing about business analysis (which I could do for a long, long time) and there’s no real-life person on the other side of the exam who can say, “I know what you meant and I see you understood the material. Nicely done.” In fact, you don’t get to say anything. You just get to read a question and select, A, B, C, or D. And hopefully you make the right selection enough times to pass.
There’s no translator and no benefit of the doubt. And of course that drives me crazy.
So to get myself out of my head on this one and into something tactical, I purchased an online exam simulator. What better way to see if I could pass than actually answer exam-like questions? I purchased Watermark Learning’s online exam simulator and will be evaluating BA Mentor’s online exam simulator when I start their prep class in a few weeks.
Why two simulators? Two reasons.
1 – This whole idea of someone who didn’t write the exam crafting questions that test my exam preparation is a bit sketchy to me. I mean, really, no offense to the training providers out there, but how do you know what’s on the exam? You don’t. That stuff is kept under lock and key in a lead-sealed vault in Toronto. (Probably not, but I’m sure it’s safely tucked away somewhere…) I figure by leveraging the resources of two companies, I’m covering more bases.
2 – I have always been a huge fan of BA Mentor on the site and recommended their materials. That recommendation has been based mostly on knowing Linda Erzah, the founder of the company, and the spirit of what makes them tick. Linda gets BA and is devoted to helping others pass the CBAP. As a reluctant participant on this journey, I can tell you I really appreciate her energy and enthusiasm. She’s sent me countless emails (in addition to her comments here) to help me stay motivated.
But now that I’m actually preparing for the CBAP myself, I figure it’s time to compare what BA Mentor brings to at least one other company’s materials, as a way of giving you a more informed opinion. I chose Watermark because they are reputable and involved. Founder Richard Larson came to visit our Denver IIBA chapter earlier this year and talked about CBAP prep, and instructor Bob Prentiss is one of the most motivational speakers on business analysis I’ve ever had the pleasure to experience. My experience with them made their materials a logical choice.
My first simulator results
OK. So that’s my why…let’s move onto what happened with the exam simulator. Well, I scored 73% on Requirements Planning and Monitoring and 78% on Business Analysis Planning and Communication. I think these are decent scores? Not so sure. They are a little lower than they should be because Watermark’s exam includes questions about the techniques with the Knowledge Area(s) in which they are referenced. This just doesn’t gel with how I’m studying as I’ve set aside a separate time to go through that humongous chapter at the end instead of doing it in pieces and parts as I go through each knowledge area.
While it’s frustrating to get a question you know you haven’t prepped for yet, I’m honing my testing skills by seeing some patterns in what I have prepped for. One mistake was glancing to quickly at terms and see “requirements” when it should have been “business analysis” and making a wrong choice. Another was to blur together inputs, outputs, techniques, tasks, deliverables, work products, etc…which all are used in very specific ways in the BABOK and, at least in this sample set, for the questions as well. This often led to a conceptually logical choice but a wrong one.
Here she goes again…
Now, I could get on my high horse and start complaining about this. In fact, I think I already did a bit earlier. The truth is that right now I just want to pass the darn exam. Even if I conceptually get it and whether or not that should be enough to become a credentialed business analysis professional, I don’t want to fail. Not now that I’ve got all of you watching me! So I’m going to learn the ins and outs and be ready to dot my I’s and cross my T’s in business analysis. And the exam simulator is definitely helping me do that. And doing it chapter by chapter helps a ton. I felt my second and third waves of “absorption” were more on target than the first one, simply because I knew what kinds of questions I might be asked.
Strangely enough, I do feel like I’m enjoying some parts of the studying. It’s sort of like putting a big puzzle together in your head, except the puzzle involves blending “how I do BA” and “how the BABOK talks about BA.” And by looking at it this way, it’s become less about memorization and more about brainwashing assimilation. Some might say I’m crossing over to the dark side. 🙂 Better or worse for Laura the BA? Not so sure yet, but I’ll chew on that and be sure to share my thoughts when they crystallize.
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