CBAP Decoded – The method to cracking the IIBA – CBAP Designation

CBAP Decoded – The method to cracking the IIBA – CBAP Designation – By Hemant Dhariyal, PMP, CBAP

Greetings to you my fellows and friends,




Winning in Business Analysis market has never been this easy!! Remember our first meeting, I consistently delivered the same message to you all “Get the CBAP designation and you will get ‘Hired'”. Although I was teaching business Analysis for almost a decade, I never decided to write the exam thinking (justifying) “I did not need it”, it was not for me etc. And life went on. I kept teaching and most of the folks who wrote the exam got certified and sadly 3 students failed the exam. Late January 2013, while teaching, my conscience challenged me to “Teach (steering away from the word lead) by example”. It was at this time I decided to write the CBAP Certification. The only item in scope for me was a “Pass”. Failing has never been an option, more so especially now, when you all look up to me, how could I fail you? And you all became my motivation to prepare and ultimately attain the certification. My success is incomplete without your contribution. Thank you for your best wishes and encouragement.




Preparation for CBAP will require dedication, motivation, dry routine (dryer the better), consistency and good attitude (I ate lots of broccoli and vegetables, fresh Acai juice, coconut water for magnesium, if that matters….)




Professionally, I have had the privilege of associating with visionary leaders, thus, learning has come easy. Great leaders do not shy away from coaching and sharing and to my case, I absorbed it all from everyone who cared to share. I have been a born risk taker, I walk hand in hand with risk. Is that the approach you should take? Totally not, my ways may sound exciting, a good story when heard. I never recommend my ways, follow my ways: you are setting yourself up for failure.




You all, my friends, are the most brilliant, intelligent and wonderful group of people I have known. Your roadmap should be about learning and long-term goals. Trust me, you will soon be forces to reckon with, the goal is not to become a Business Analyst or a Project Manager, goal is to assume leadership roles (ultimately the goal is to be good human beings) and drive businesses to achieve their strategic objectives ensures business cases selected are formed on compelling stories. I can not stress enough on learning over cramming, consistency over scatter and understanding over memorization.




Certifications of the magnitude of CBAP can not be achieved if your learning is compartmentalized. Open you mind towards this subject and you will be become the best in this business. The initial process for any profession has been painful, only when we endure pain that success follows. I prepared for the exam in 14 days and last 3 days, of the 72 hours, I put in close to 63 hours (totally in line with my motto : Education that is simpler, easier, faster, is it? Later in my email you will agree with me that it is. Real education is learning and learning can never be faster. Learning is slow, slower the better, because, education is experience and learning put together.




Here is a roadmap that I suggest and may work for all: it is consistent, enjoyable, not as dry, and because I am putting this together, I added flavors of risk, aggression and pride to turn this into your own exciting story that I trust you would one day speak about. Makes sense!!




Caution my friends: This road map should only be followed if you have read BABOK at least once and thus developed sound understanding of all the concepts. Make no mistake BABOK must be the authoritative source of knowledge. Your exam should be booked around a month’s time from this stage.




Another important thing is consistency in preparation. Below are three important rules that one should follow and  apply to every chapter while preparing for the exam:




Rule 1: While attempting the test bank questions, mark the questions where you think you are guessing and later while checking the answers also mark the questions which were wrong. The reason we marked the guesses is because these are also the gaps in learning. All the wrong answers and gaps (guesses) should be mapped back to BABOK. What did you just do? You have addressed the GAPS. This is learning the right way…. Follow this technique and now you just accelerated your learning (so when done in the right manner, Education / Learning can be Simpler, Easier and Faster).




Rule 2: Read Tool, Techniques and Elements sheet every day (this should be your first task in the day)




Rule 3: Chapter are only considered completed when you have also gone over the related techniques in the chapter 9.




Week 1:




Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3: Estimated time: 15 hours


·       Thoroughly read BABOK Chapter 2 (Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring, BAPM)


·       Finish this chapter in work book we provided.


·       Attempt 100 odd questions on our drop box for this chapter.


·       Apply Rule 1, Rule 2 and Rule 3




Day 4 and Day 5:  Estimated time: 11 hours


Read Elicitation Chapter. This is one of the easier chapters on the exam. At least, I felt that, could be due to my liking for this subject. The other reason could be I thoroughly prepared 11 Techniques associated with this chapter. This is a short and fun chapter as it may seen, make no mistake, please do not discount the 11 techniques applicable to this chapter which are to be read from chapter 9 (DIP-OF-RIBS, Glossary & Dictionary and Problem Tracking). The same steps as applicable to BAPM chapter should be applied and are listed below:


·       Thoroughly read BABOK Chapter 3


·       Finish  this chapter in work book


·       Attempt all the questions on our drop box for this chapter.


·       Apply Rule 1, Rule 2 and Rule 3




Day 6 and Day 7: Estimated Time 11 hours




Now we are almost half way there, Requirement Management and Communication, RMC is your next challenge. Personally on the exam here I has a few struggles. This may not be the case with everyone. Learn it well and follow the following steps:


·       Thoroughly read BABOK Chapter 4 (Requirement Management and Communication)


·       Finish  the chapter in work book


·       Attempt questions on our drop box for this chapter.


·       Apply Rule 1, Rule 2 and Rule 3




Congratulations!! You just finished week 1 and don’t you like the routine. At this stage you must have developed liking for this standard and if you still have not, please consider repeating Week 1. The reason why I say this is because if this is the profession of your choice, you suck it up and learn or QUIT. C’mon let’s not quit, you are good at this. Really, repeat Week 1. It will do a lot of good!!!




Week 2:


Did you think it was getting Easier, WRONG!!! No my friends it’s not getting any easier, however, I can guarantee this “it will get interesting”. In the next 3 chapter you will experience a flow (waterfall in many ways). The succeeding Knowledge Areas may use outputs from its predecessors. Turn these 3 chapters into a story.




Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3: Estimated time: 14 hours


This is one of the most interesting chapters. I excel at this, totally and completely love it. Professionals who work here demand and command any $$$. If you are passionate about this profession then this is where you would want to be. Rub shoulders with executives and visionary leaders. This is where you will get identified as leaders. Tighten your seat belts and enjoy the read (ride). Look at Samsung, aren’t they giving Apple a run for their money. Excellence that Samsung has achieved in past one year or so has been due to the brilliant professional performing Enterprise Analysis. Really this is where we want to be….


·       Thoroughly read BABOK Chapter 5 (Enterprise Analysis)


·       Finish the chapter in work book


·       Attempt questions on our drop box for this chapter.


·       Apply Rule 1, Rule 2 and Rule 3




Day 4, Day 5, Day 6 and Day 7: Estimated time: 18 hours




Requirement Analysis carries the maximum weight on the exam. This chapter is the longest but not the hardest. It has concepts that have helped my recent pass outs secure jobs in the range of $150,000. No kidding, it does have the concepts that will differentiate you from the crowd. There you go, here is your opportunity to be unique. 18 hours of efforts and you have drawn a line between yourself and others. Now you are better equipped than most out there to deal with any business analysis interview anywhere in the world.


·       Thoroughly read BABOK Chapter 6 (Requirement Analysis)


·       Finish the chapter in work book


·       Attempt questions on our drop box for this chapter.


·       Apply Rule 1, Rule 2 and Rule 3




We are almost done. Week 2 is over. I do not think there will be any need to repeat Week 2 as if you are here, the learning must have been top class. You are beaming with confidence. At this time I expect a text from you. This is a milestone in your preparation towards the CBAP certification.




Week 3:




Now it’s getting easier. Solution Assessment and Validation is trivial. Without wasting any further time lets go about finishing BABOK.




Day 1 and Day 2




Solution Assessment and Validation should be a lighter read. By now you should have attained a state where every knowledge area makes sense and you have also established relationship between them all.


·       Thoroughly read BABOK Chapter 7 (Solution Assessment and Validation )


·       Finish the chapter in work book


·       Attempt questions on our drop box for this chapter.


·       Apply Rule 1, Rule 2 and Rule 3




Day 4 and Day 5




Chapter 1 is just basic concepts and will not require over 1.5 hours. Underlying Competency is one of those chapter that I call “Master Work”. There are only 5 questions on the exam from this chapter however it gives you the knowledge of lifetime. This is what will win you the interviews by giving insight into various competencies that you are expected to excel in.


·       Thoroughly read BABOK Chapter 1 and Chapter 


·       Finish the chapter in work book


·       Attempt questions on our drop box for this chapter.


·       Apply Rule 1, Rule 2 and Rule 3




You have just earned yourself a well deserved rest for 2 days. Remember I said consistency in the beginning, do not break the routine. It is the key. Just follow the  2 while on break.




Week 4:




You are fresh, re-energized and ready to go again. This time we will fast track this process. All the four bullets within every chapter need to be repeated except the second bullet (workbook). Your scores on the exam should be in the range of 88% – 92%. If they are consistently at that level, you are ready for the exam!!!




Day 1- BAPM and Rule 2


Day 2- Elicitation and Rule 2


Day 3- RMC and Rule 2


Day 4- EA and Rule 2


Day 5- RA and Rule 2


Day 6- SAV and Rule 2




You are ready for the exam, next two days are a quick overview of all the chapters. Ensure that your learning is not compartmentalized, it is broad and you have established the relationship between all the processes within every chapter. Your knowledge is in line with BABOK. Your have thorough understanding of Techniques chapter.




Let me end this email on a note: Have you looked at McDaddy’s Billboards, it says: Sign of a Great Realtor “Sold”. Let me borrow this term, no shame in reusability and consistent messaging. How about we change this to Sign of a Great Educator: Hired (slowly sighing away from the term trainer). What is the point of education if it can not deliver goods!! I am only successful when you have found work, every time that happens: it also brings a smile on my face.




I want to be a part of your success and your stories as it is your stories that truly are my learning.




Yours truly


Hemant Dhariyal, PMP, CBAP, ITIL, Agile Certified, Scrum Certified, Six Sigma, Project +,


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