Lessons learned after passing the PMI-PBA certification exam at 1st attempt
Training materials, in the order of relevance:
- BA Practice Guide (read it 2 times in detail) and PMBOK 5th edition, from PMI (read some knowledge areas, like Integration, Scope, Stakeholders – all in detail, Time, Quality, Communication, Risk – only the tools and techniques, it is enough for the exam);
- Online course from iZenBridge, all the videos and presentations, including all the tests, by domain or the two 200 questions assessments tests;
- Watermark PMI-PBA Certification Study Guide, bought from Amazon (47 USD), it follows the tasks from the PMI Examination Content Outline, it contains 10 questions/domain and a 100 questions assessment test. It contains a 5 days trial access to their tests bank (about 800 questions), with simulation tests of 25 questions/domain or assessment tests of 200 questions. It is a good resource to use at the end of the study;
- Rita Mulcahy PMP Exam Prep, for review and testing for the PMI knowledge areas (I have it from my PMP certification study);
- Business Analysis Techniques - 72 Essential Tools for Success – for the Needs Assessment techniques that are not explained in the BA Practice Guide (e.g. CATWOE, BCG Matrix, Ansoff Matrix), but I didn’t get any questions about that on the exam.
- 12 weeks, about 200 hours of study, about 300 pages of hand notes;
- Read BA Practice Guide (including the glossary) in parallel with the online course from iZenBridge and with Watermark Study Guide, domain by domain, writing hand notes of relevant details, take tests by domain, passing two times;
- Read PMBOK and Rita in parallel (only the knowledge areas mentioned above), review my hand notes from my previous PMP certification study, taking the tests from Rita for each studied knowledge areas;
- In the last three weeks, take the 3 x 200 questions assessment tests and review all my notes.
- iZenBridge tests by domain (50 questions/domain), getting between 35/50 for Needs Assessment and 46/50 for Evaluation, taken two times;
- iZenBridge 200 questions assessment tests (scores 163/200 and 159/200);
- Watermark tests – 30 tests by domain of 25 questions/test and 200 questions assessment test (score 166/200);
- Analyze all the results, taking some notes about the correct and wrong answers for each test, which will double your time and effort spent with these tests.
- The exam is difficult, most of the questions are situational, as expected. They are not wordy, most of them of maximum 3 lines;
- The questions are tricky and the options are not as obvious as expected, sometimes it is very difficult to identify the right answer, several questions seemed to have all the 4 options as correct ones!
- Honestly the questions looked tougher than those from the assessment tests, sometimes the options were very well chosen, in order to stretch your mind at maximum! In my opinion the exam was more difficult than the PMP certification exam I have passed few years ago, it could be possible that you cannot anticipate the final exam result by the quality of your answers;
- There are also about 20-30 questions pretty easy, the questions are short and the answer is obvious;
- You should expect tough questions from the first one, the first 20 questions look very difficult, or it is just your anxiety that lowers in time.
Suggestions for iZenBridge team, for making the two 200 questions assessment tests more difficult, at the exam's level:
- Please remove from the two assessment tests all the questions that are already in the other tests by domain, to have only fresh questions on these assessment tests and to get a more relevant score for the final part of one’s study. In that case a 150/200 score would be enough to be ready for the exam;
- Please add some questions about the following details that I have identified during the exam:
1) Tests where the project’s product is not your product at the end, but there is a customer who will receive the product and a formal contract with him. I have identified about 8-10 questions like this in the exam, where the customer has the initiative to provide SOW, lists of requirements or specifications or even the design, or he participates actively to the requirements elicitation and review, or he should sign off for the final product before delivery, or he has to communicate with the BA or with the PM during the project, or he does not agree with the solutions’ test results, or with the acceptance criteria, or with the solution evaluation, or he wants some changements to the requirements or to the solution after deployment, or he wants to abandon the project before the sign off, and you should react, analyze or investigate. This kind of situations are not so many in the tests questions;
2) Tests where the requirements traceability matrix is one of the options, but it is not the correct answer, to learn how to avoid such kind of traps;
3) Tests about the actions that are cross-domain, i.e. how to define or manage traceability, changements or communication in P or T&M domains, how to evaluate or define or use acceptance criteria and project metrics in NA, P, A or E domains, to clarify what to do with each of these notions in each of the BA domains
Above Target for the overall exam, and Above Target for each of the 5 domains. I would like to know the percentage and the wrong answers, but I know it is not possible. By the chart the score seems to be around 80%, but it is just an approximation. Maybe PMI will provide more details by e-mail in the next days.
Special thanks to Saket and Seema for the iZenBridge online video and presentation materials, as well as for the all the tests, they were very important in the preparation of the exam.
Many thanks to other colleagues from the iZenBridge forum which encouraged me personally and provided me some tips and useful advice, after they passed the exam: Konstantinos Zinonos, Bipin Naliath, Stefano Orfei. The other success stories from the forum were also very useful for my motivation.
I hope my lessons learned will help the future test takers, at least until PMI decides to update the PMBOK and BA Practice Guide, at the end of 2017.
For any other questions, you may contact me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sorinscortan/