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    How to prepare for CBAP certification - A step by step approach

    Image of Sonal Singh
    Sonal Singh

    Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) is the most sought-after certification for senior business analysts to excel in the corporate world. CBAP certification has proven results in terms of salary benefits, career growth and opening up new opportunities in the global markets. The CBAP certification examination needs one to understand BABoK in-depth and applying BABoK concepts to various business analysis scenarios.

    Benefits of CBAP

    • CBAPs on an average earn 19% more as per the IIBA salary survey of 2019

    • The expected salary increase is in the range of 15 -20%

    • Established credential and be globally recognized BA certification.

    • Better career growth

    • Better skilled in BA domain

    • BA is the fastest-growing career opportunity for IT professionals

    In this blog, we describe how one can be CBAP in a time-bound manner of 12 weeks.

    5 Steps to become a successful CBAP in less than 3 months

    1. Ensure the eligibility for the CBAP certification exam (Week 1)

    2. Take IIBA approved training on CBAP (Week 2 to 5)

    3. Study BABoK and Practice CBAP questions (Week 2 to 11)

    4. Get your application approved (Week 6)

    5. Take the CBAP test and be a proud CBAP (Week 12)

    Step 1 # Ensure the eligibility for the CBAP certification exam (Week 1)

    CBAP being the 3rd level certification from IIBA, has very strict eligibility criteria. Following are the eligibility criteria of CBAP certification:

    1. 7500 hours in the last 10 years, 900 hours of which should be in 4 out of the 6 BABOK Guide Version 3 Knowledge areas

    2. 35 hours of Professional Development in the past 4 years

    3. Two references from a career manager, client or Certified Business Analysis Professional – CBAP

    4. A Signed Code of Conduct with IIBA

    CBAP Eligibility Criteria

    Step 2 # Take IIBA approved training on CBAP

    Very often we are asked by prospective CBAP certification aspirants, ‘Why should I join a formal CBAP certification training when there is so much free content on the internet?’. This is indeed a valid question.

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    Here are 5 key reasons why you should join a formal CBAP prep course.

    #1. It is humanly impossible to go through all the content available on the internet and it is not necessarily reliable

    These days there are all kinds of information and resources available online. In fact, there are a plethora of free resources available for people who want to get certified as a CBAP from IIBA. The problem is there is no way to check the quality of these available resources. You do not have the luxury of time (since most have a job to cater to) while preparing for the exam. You simply can’t be spending your time on endless skimming of information to find the right resource, if at all.

    This is where a formal prep course makes the difference. The course content is designed by mentors and coaches who have expertise in the BA field and have full knowledge of the CBAP certification exam pattern. The experts spend a great amount of time and effort creating the content as required by IIBA and periodically review it and make changes as needed.

    Time is a critical factor to success, and a formal CBAP prep course allows you to spend most of it on things that matter like actual preparation rather than gathering information and verifying its authenticity and worth.

    In fact, IIBA strongly recommends undergoing proper training from an EEP (Endorsed Education Provider) under a seasoned BA coach/mentor. This will help increase the chances of passing in the very first attempt and in the shortest possible time.

    #2. The Internet does not offer any support in clarifying your doubts

    Another important reason why joining a formal prep course makes sense is the help you get from a mentor/coach. When you join a formal prep course, you have the advantage of a mentor who can answer your queries and resolve your doubts. This is something which is not possible when you are studying on your own.

    The mentor is an expert in the BA field, one who is endorsed by and attached to IIBA and is usually one who is herself/himself CBAP certified. BABoK contains more than 200,000 words and close to 500 pages of dense documentation. The sheer size of BABoK (which one needs to study while preparing for the certifications) makes understanding it without any faculty guidance extremely difficult.

    Most CBAP prep courses provide a study-guide based on the BABoK, which, along with the help from the faculty makes understanding BABoK much easier than doing it all by yourself.

    #3. The Internet does not support you when you hit a wall with the CBAP application process


    Another important reason is that a formal CBAP prep course provides comprehensive support. They provide you with all the support you require, from filling up the form to your giving the exam. They form your support system throughout your preparation time. This allows you to concentrate on what is most important for you, studying for the exam.

    Attending a formal IIBA prep course with an EEP will also give you the much-needed PD hours during the preparation process itself. You also get tips and suggestions from past certified professionals who have taken the course. You can follow their tips and improve your chances of succeeding in the first attempt.

    #4. Internet-based content is often dubious in quality

    The information available free on the internet is unverified and unstructured. You might just end up wasting your time and effort on something which will give you zero result. When you prepare under a formal CBAP prep course, you get the benefit of curated content like study-guide, question banks, exam simulators, exam tips & prep plans, video & audio learning, etc. Learning hours are reduced by at least 50% as an instructor ensures participants pay attention to the course.

    Adaptive’s course content also evolves according to the needs of the candidates and changes incorporated by IIBA for the CBAP course, thereby helping the candidate prepare in a better and more structured way.

    #5. A self-managed process can be terribly slow, thus denying you many opportunities

    Statistics prove that participants of a prep course have a tendency to adhere to the set study plan and thus have a higher chance of success. We hope these reasons give you ample information and aid you in making an informed decision of joining a formal CBAP prep course.

    To ensure that you pass the certification exam in your first attempt, it is essential that you attend a formal CBAP Prep Course. IIBA itself strongly recommends undergoing proper training from an EEP (Endorsed Education Provider) by seasoned CBAP trainers. This increases the chances of passing in the very first attempt and in the shortest possible time.

    Attending a formal IIBA prep course with an EEP will also give you the much-needed PD hours during the preparation process itself. You also get tips and suggestions from past certified professionals who have taken the course. You can follow their tips and improve your chances of succeeding in the first attempt.

    While choosing your training partner, consider the value of your time and the consequences of not being successful in the certification. The training sessions should give you clarity of concepts related to BABoK in such a way that it not only makes the CBAP certification exam easier for you but also makes you a better BA in your day job also. Hence choosing the right trainer or mentor is very important for this task.

    The ideal CBAP training session is one where:

    • Where the faculties understand BABoK really well

    • Can relate the concepts to real-life examples

    • Can break the knowledge area into smaller tasks

    • Give you examples from real life

    • Create a mind map for you among the tasks and techniques recommended by BABoK

    • Apply the tasks and techniques to a real-life case and make it crystal clear to you

    Why Adaptive is a great partner for your CBAP training?

    Why Adaptive US

    Adaptive US is an IIBA EEP and gives you all the above-mentioned deliverables. It is the only training organization that provides CBAP certification training with Success Guarantee. If you do not succeed in your first attempt, we will pay your re-take fees.

    The course content is designed by mentors and coaches who have expertise in the BA field and have full knowledge of the CBAP certification exam pattern. The experts spend a great amount of time and effort creating the content as required by IIBA and periodically review it and make changes as needed.

    Adaptive’s first attempt success rate is more than 95%. This is indeed the best success rate for any training institute. Take a look at our past successful participants on our website. Also, take a look at our past feedback : CBAP Review

    Adaptive’s trainers have been part of the IIBA BABoK development team and exam setting committees.

    Adaptive’s BA learning platform, Suxeed, comes with certification model questions, 100+ videos on BABoK, the world’s most compact BABoK study guide, audiobooks, flashcards, Exam prep tips, personalized exam preparation Plan, Exam Alerts. 

    Read more : About Adaptive US

    Step 3 # Study BABoK and Practice CBAP Model Questions

    Good preparation leads to good results. And for good preparation, you need to follow the right path towards your certification goals.

    If you are committed to the CBAP certification goal and ready to put in at least 100 hours of effort towards the same then this is an achievable target. A practical approach will be to take up a target date between 10 to 12 weeks’ timeframe and work backward. Set up a plan towards the target. (Please take into account your family and work commitments while chalking out the plan).

    Preparation Tips

    • Do not start with BABoK

    BABoK is the mandated book and curriculum for CBAP certification, however making one comfortable with BABoK can be quite a steep target given the content, subject, and complexity of the subject.

    So, what we suggest at Adaptive is that don’t start your preparation by reading the BABoK. First, pick up a CBAP Study Guide which explains BABoK in a simplified manner. The study guide should break the jargon and terms to simpler words, capture the concepts in a logical manner and at the same time should be concise. Start your preparation with the study guide, understand the concept well and then move to BABoK for preparation. Starting with BABoK may get a little challenging. 

    • Learn to correlate tasks and techniques

    Understanding of core concepts is very vital for clearing CBAP certification examination since the questions are case and scenario-based which requires a deep understanding of the concepts.

    Make sure you study tasks in connection with their techniques. Prioritize on this as you prepare for CBAP. You need to understand the techniques best appropriate for particular situations and tasks at hand. Knowledge of their description, advantages, and disadvantages will also help here. Just understand the techniques well and be able to recall their key areas of application.

    Understand the tasks and how information flows through the tasks, that is, inputs and outputs. Be able to identify the name of a task given its description and also be able to tell what follows that task. 

    • Practice a sufficient number of exam questions

    No amount of studying and practice is enough unless you test your knowledge.

    Study each chapter thoroughly and take the chapter-based test of concepts and then gradually moving to case-based questions on the chapter. Each time you make a mistake go back to concepts, read it again and verify with the answer and try to relate. Take a CBAP question bank which gives you real exam pattern questions and simulators. The greater number of questions you solve the better prepared you are for the real CBAP exam.

    Once you are comfortable with the chapter-based questions then move to simulators. But simulators should be taken up when you are more or less thorough with the concepts. The simulators give you real exam experience with 120 questions (mix of case and scenario-based) to be solved in 3.5 hours. Monitor your performance in the simulators, go back to all those questions where you were wrong and then move to the next simulator, take up simulators till you score around 85% consistently.

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    What to expect in CBAP Certification Exam?

    • Questions will be a mix of case and scenario-based questions

    • There will be some questions on mathematical calculations like ROI etc

    • There will be 4/5 questions on a single case

    • Scenarios are short cases

    What not to expect in CBAP Certification Exam?

    • Do not expect questions straight from BABoK from input, output, techniques, etc

    • Do not expect the exam to be easy

    • Do not expect to have the luxury of time

    • Do not expect to pass the CBAP certification exam without having adequate experience as a business analyst.

    Here is a simple infographic that shows a week-by-week plan and the resources you need to prepare for the CBAP certification exam.

    Step 4 # Get Your CBAP Application Approved

    Then comes the task of the CBAP application filing, this can get a bit confusing since one needs to gather experience across the knowledge areas over the last 10 years. Pick up a CBAP application filing template that simulates the IIBA application filing format and helps you gather the experience throughout the Knowledge areas and guides you with the expectations of IIBA. 

    CBAP certification cost has the below components:

    1. IIBA membership fee $55 to $125 depending on the country of residence

    2. CBAP Application Fee –$125

    3. CBAP Exam Fee – $325 for IIBA members and $450 for non-IIBA members

    The blog CBAP Certification Cost gives details about the cost of the certification.

    Step 5 # Take the test and be a CBAP

    CBAP is an online web-based and competency-based exam that you can take from anywhere. All you need is a computer, microphone, webcam, and working internet connection.

    CBAP certification is based on the following pattern:

    1. Competency-based exam

    2. 120 multiple-choice questions

    3. Questions are a mix of case and scenario

    4. The exam is of 3.5 hours duration

    Given below is the exam blueprint with the weightage given to different knowledge areas.

    CBAP Certification Exam Blueprint
    Knowledge Area % of Questions
    Requirement Analysis and Design Definition 30%
    Requirement Lifecycle Management 15%
    Strategy Analysis 15%
    Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring 14%
    Solution Evaluation 14%
    Elicitation and Collaboration 12%


    You are ready to take the exam. Choose a day when you are relaxed.

    Set up the exam date preferably after a weekend or if not then on Sunday. Don’t go for the exam immediately after a work week, that doesn’t let your brain relax. One needs to stay cool and have a good rest before the exam since the exam is quite exhaustive.

    Once you have set up the exam dates then do at least 2 times revision of the study guide and the question bank. Brush through your notes and CBAP certification tips.

    Go for the test. Do not overburden yourself. Success will be in your hands.

    Some CBAP exam and time management tips-

    • Relax and read the instructions carefully

    • Target to clear 40 questions per hour. This will give you about 30 minutes to handle those that you may have marked for review. Pay close attention to the number of questions answered and remaining, and the countdown of time remaining.

    • Don’t spend more than 2 minutes on one question

    • Never leave a question unanswered. Select the best answer and mark it for review and revisit it at the end.

    • Make use of the highlight and strike-through features of the exam software.

    • Attempt the calculation-based questions first, there is an on-screen calculator available, make use of that.

    • Case-based questions take the maximum amount of time, glance through the case on the first read and move to the questions and then come back to the case since there is a lot of extra information that is not needed to answer the questions. Try to make use of the highlight feature. It will help you in long cases when you highlight the important parts of the case

    • Take a break if you feel your mind is tired and blank in the exam

    • In CBAP Understanding the situation and question are very important. Read the question slowly and twice if required to understand correctly. 

    At the end of all this, the most important point is to stay focused all throughout the journey. No amount of study will be enough if you don’t set a deadline and work backward.

    Keep a target for yourself and work towards it, make some progress every day. Keep some time marked for prep every day and make use of the weekends more effectively.

    All of us spend a significant amount of time traveling to and from work. Utilize this time to brush up your knowledge by listening to the CBAP audiobook that helps in refreshing the memory and concepts. This helps in memorizing the terms and tasks as well as input, output, etc.

    From the inputs received from our past CBAP participants and their experience, we know that it is safe to assume that the CBAP exam passing score is more than 70%.

    Hence it is suggested to target 80 – 90% in the CBAP mock tests to be successful in the CBAP final exam. Again there is no official data by IIBA to support this. This is based on our best estimate of the information on the CBAP exam.

    Hopefully, by following these steps you will be able to achieve your goal of getting CBAP certified in the first attempt.

    The reassuring feedback from one of our CBAP certified professional reconfirms this-

    “While preparing for CBAP, I realized it’s a tough nut to crack and the questions were tricky. A friend suggested adaptive simulation tests for practice. I joined the adaptive workshop and cleared my exam within one month after my last session. The sessions from LN, Peter, Lora were helpful in understanding the BABOK terminology better.

    Though I have a good BA experience, it’s important to practice the simulation tests and understand how to manage time during the exam. The simulation tests and presentations from adaptive were close to the real exam so we can decode the questions well.

    Adaptive also has lots of other blogs, study material that’s helpful in this profession. I would recommend the adaptive workshops for anyone who is looking for CBAP preparation. Thanks to Adaptive and LN for taking up my questions in email even after the sessions and guiding me through my prep”

    - Bhavana Kandikonda, CBAP

    Several other such feedback on the link here : CBAP Review

    Have confidence in yourself and stay focused. Adaptive US has 500+ professionals who are now CBAP certified using these CBAP certification tips and steps and you should be the next.

    All the best ahead for your preparation for CBAP, may you pass your exam with flying colors!

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