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CBAP Certification : Benefit, Eligibility, Exam Pattern and Preparation

CBAP certification has proven results in terms of salary benefits, career growth, and opening up new opportunities in the global markets. In this blog we will discuss:

What is CBAP Certification?

The Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) is the highest-level credential for business analysts offered by the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA). IIBA is a nonprofit professional association founded in 2003 to promote the field of business analysis. It helps business analysts to hone their knowledge in business analysis through its publication, Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABoK).

IIBA describes CBAP as a credential that “recognizes seasoned BA professionals who have over five years of practical business analysis work experience.” CBAP is the most sought-after certification for senior business analysts to excel in business analysis.

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 Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABoK) in-depth and applying Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABoK) concepts to various business analysis scenarios. Globally there are only 12000+ CBAPs today which makes it highly sought after. CBAP holders go through rigorous preparations to prove their knowledge and competence on business analysis. As CBAP is an advanced credential requiring sound knowledge on BABOK, extensive work experience and training. You need to pass the CBAP exam, as is the case with most credentials.

We explore CBAP prerequisites in more detail below and discuss what a CBAP certification might mean for your career. First, let’s look at where CBAP fits into the landscape of IIBA’s credentials, and learn about the body of knowledge CBAP-certified business analysts are expected to master.

FREE 50 CBAP Mock Questions

 

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CBAP Certification Benefits

  • On average, 69 percent of certified business analysis professionals experience greater career satisfaction through higher confidence and job fulfillment. Furthermore, certification positions those who practice business analysis for promotion and boosts their self-confidence in the workplace. This is significant since 36 percent of these professionals think better confidence at work is the single most important benefit of certification.

  • CBAPs on average earn 59% more as per the IIBA salary survey of 2020

  • 76% of certification holders receive the benefits within 1 year of getting certified

  • 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.

  • Competence in the principles and practices of business analysis.

  • Participation in a recognized professional group.

  • Recognition of professional competence by professional peers and management.

  • Advanced career potential due to recognition as a professional business analysis practitioner.

  • Personal satisfaction of accomplishing a milestone in their business analysis careers.

  • Certification can improve overall performance, remove uncertainty, and widen market opportunities.

  • The process of achieving and maintaining certification helps ensure you are continually improving and refining your activities.

  • Potentially higher income for being formally recognized as an experienced business analysis professional. For more details, view this recent salary survey.

  • Recognize individuals who have invested in their business analysis careers and encourages them to keep doing so.

CBAP vs. CCBA vs. ECBA

CBAP is the most advanced of IIBA’s sequence of core credentials for business analysts. It comes after Entry Certificate in Business Analysis (ECBA) and the Certification for Competency in Business Analysis (CCBA). As you might expect, the requirements get more intensive as you climb the ladder: CBAP requires more training, work experience, and knowledge area expertise. The important thing to know is that CBAP holders are at the top of the heap; while you don’t need to have the lower-level certifications to get your CBAP certification, you should be well experienced in your career as a BA before you consider it, typically 5+ years of business analysis experience aligned to BABOK.

CBAP and BABOK

Similar to IIBA’s other core certifications, the CBAP draws from A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge, also popularly known as the BABOK Guide. The BABOK Guide is a publication from IIBA that aims to serve as a bible for the business analysis industry, collecting best practices from 500+ real-world practitioners. It was initially published in 2005 and is continuously updated, with the current version being 3.0.

The BABOK Guide lays out the tasks and techniques a business analyst should understand. All tasks are grouped into six focus areas, referred to as knowledge areas:

  1. Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring
  2. Elicitation and Collaboration
  3. Requirements Life Cycle Management
  4. Strategy Analysis
  5. Requirements Analysis and Design Definition
  6. Solution Evaluation

The BABOK Guide serves as the foundational set of knowledge for the CBAP exam. Even if you’re an experienced analyst, you must review the content of the BABOK Guide before taking a CBAP exam to fully understand its perspectives and terminology.

Target Audience

CBAP examination targets the following audience:

  • Seasoned Business Analysts
  • Current CCBAs who completed CCBA 2 years back
  • Business Analysis Consultants
  • Business Analysis Trainers with significant BA experiences

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CBAP ELIGIBILITY

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

  • 7500 hours of work experience in the last 10 years aligned to tasks mentioned in BABOK
  • In 4 out of the 6 BABoK Knowledge areas, minimum 900 hours of experience
  • 35 hours of Professional Development in the past 4 years aligned to BABOK – Most IIBA approved EEP CBAP training provide these PD hours. (see training section below).
  • Two references from a career manager, client or Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP)
  • A Signed Code of Conduct with IIBA
  • Pass the CBAP exam.

Documenting the experience requirement may seem daunting, but you may ultimately find it rewarding. LN Mishra, CBAP, says the process led him to better appreciate the breadth of knowledge he had gained over the course of his career, and helped him reconnect with old colleagues as well. On a side note, you’ll indeed gain plenty of material to keep your resume updated.

CBAP Certification Cost

There are 2 fees associated with CBAP certification – Application fee and Exam fee.

Applying for CBAP certification costs $125, which is nonrefundable.

The Exam fee and retake fees depend on your membership status.

For members, the exam fee is $325 the first time and $250 for each retake. For non-members, the exam fee is $450 the first time and $375 for each retake.

You may also wish to become an IIBA member, which costs $139 in much of North America and Europe, and less in many developing nations. IIBA members get a $125 discount on exam fees, as well as several other benefits.

You’ll need to pay for the required PD hours as well, although that can vary widely among course providers. Few course providers, like Adaptive US, provide exam success guarantee as part of which the retake fee is borne by Adaptive US.

CBAP Certification Training

IIBA provides clear guidelines on what kind of training courses qualify towards your CBAP PD hours on its website:

  1. The training must be moderated or facilitated, with a moderator for the session, or an instructor who takes students through the learning material.
  2. There must be a measurable learning objective or set of objectives applicable to improve the skills or change the behavior of business analysts.
  3. Students must be able to interact with the material by asking questions and making the learning meaningful.
  4. Students must get opportunities to practice the tasks or objectives being presented and be assessed by the facilitator.
  5. The training must be directly aligned with the BABOK Guide.

IIBA does not offer training courses. But has authorized training institutes to teach CBAP courses. From IIBA’s list of endorsed education providers (popularly known as EEPs); you can see a list of nearby or online training courses and upcoming exam prep opportunities. These courses generally align with the exam syllabus and based on the BABOK Guide.

CBAP Certification Exam Pattern

CBAP certification is based on the following pattern:

  1. 120 multiple-choice questions
  2. Questions are a mix of case and scenario
  3. The exam is of 3.5 hours duration

 

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Steps to prepare for CBAP Exam

Five 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 Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (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)

 

Step 2 # Take IIBA approved training on CBAP

 

Step 3 # Study Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (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 for the target. (Please consider your family and work commitments while chalking out the plan).

 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.

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.

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 workweek, 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 revisions 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 questions 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.

How to analyze Your Exam Result?

CBAP is a dream business analysis certification for business analysts. CBAP V3 version success rate has been significantly lower than the success rate in CBAP V2. We receive feedback from many CBAP exam takers as to how to interpret the result for the CBAP certification examination.

According to IIBA, ‘CBAP recognizes your expertise in multiple business domains and your ability to tackle more complex projects, work with stakeholders to define and manage their business requirements, drive business processes, lead the BA effort, and identify opportunities to achieve better business results.’

IIBA has three scales for measuring the competency of the knowledge areas, Higher than average, Comparable and Lower than average. One gets an assessment rating on each of the 6 knowledge areas.

# KNOWLEDGE AREAS ASSESSMENT RESULT
1. Business analysis planning and monitoring - Higher
2. Elicitation and collaboration - Comparable
3. Requirements life cycle management - Comparable
4. Strategy analysis - Higher
5. Requirements analysis and design definition - Higher
6. Solution evaluation - Higher

To successfully qualify, one must not obtain Lower than average assessment in any of the knowledge areas. Even if one gets Comparable in all the knowledge areas, one may still fail in the exam. IIBA assesses at each individual knowledge area level and overall level. For successfully clearing the exam you need to get higher than average in most of the Knowledge Areas. As IIBA does not provide any specific score to ensure one has scored “Higher than Average” score. In Adaptive practice tests, we consider 85% as Higher Than Average score.

Gathering information from past participants it can be safely assumed that in order to clear the CBAP certification exam the score should be over 70% in all knowledge areas so as to not fall into the Lower than Average category.

Through dedication, hard work, proper planning, and help from your mentor passing the CBAP exam in your first attempt is a distinct possibility.

CBAP Passing Score

The Certified Business Analysis Professional CBAP certification is one of the most coveted designations for business analysts globally. Along with the reputation also comes the toiling for the CBAP certification exam. One of the common questions CBAP aspirants ask is, “What is CBAP passing score?"

IIBA doesn't provide any specific passing score. However, one must aim for scoring 75% minimum in all the knowledge areas and overall.

Since IIBA does not disclose this information, we don’t have a confirmed answer to this question.

CBAP is a competency-based certification based on the BABoK v3 scheme.

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's 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.

Top 10 Most Common Reasons People Fail in CBAP

There are many articles and blogs giving tips on how to pass the CBAP exam but on a first search, there aren’t any articles explaining why people fail in CBAP.

This will definitely help the CBAP aspirants to make sure that they don't repeat the mistakes.

  1. Inadequate Experience for CBAP

Many times professionals get tempted to go straight for CBAP, even if they are not ready yet for the same in terms of skill and knowledge.

Though as per the eligibility conditions of IIBA, CBAP requires about 5 years of business analysis experience; sometimes we have seen professionals stretching themselves to go for CBAP with barely 4 years of business analysis experience.

It's always advisable to go for CBAP with at least 5.5 years of business analysis experience. The CBAP v3 examination requires a good amount of business analysis experience as well as knowledge of BABoK v3 since the questions are case-based.

This requires the ability to correlate the knowledge of BABoK to the given case and answer accordingly.

Hence business analysis experience as an active BA is essential for clearing this exam

  1. Expecting direct questions from BABoK

This is another reason why many people fail, though they have the required experience they don't prepare with the right resources or to be specific with the right kind of questions.

Many times they expect direct questions from BABoK.

This was the case in the CBAP v2 based exam but that's not true anymore for CBAP v3.

The CBAP v3 questions are case study-based (i.e. longer cases (1-1.5 pages) of information) with multiple questions about the case. It is competency-based and aligned with BABOK Guide Version 3.

It doesn't have any direct questions from the BABoK.

In many cases people are misguided by the exam and question pattern, they prepare from questions that are direct from BABoK on input, output, techniques, etc and scenario-based questions.

Unfortunately, CBAP v3 doesn't have such questions and hence they are taken aback during the exam with the questions being much longer and complex.

  1. Overemphasizing on remembering BABoK

One participant was lost with her result of failure and shared her preparation recently with us," I literally remember each word of BABoK, but still failed to clear CBAP. I failed 3 times already and I am not sure what could be the right preparation strategy for my retake"

This was sad for us to hear her story.

The first thought was how someone can remember 500+ pages of content.

This sounded dreadful to us. One needs to understand that it's important to understand and assimilate BABoK rather than remembering. One needs to understand the tasks, techniques well, and the interrelationship with each other.

  1. Lack of proper understanding of BABoK terminologies and expectation

It's important to know the terms used in BABoK and relating it to the terms used in your organization

This is so true in the case of BABoK v3 since there is a significant enhancement in the standard. There is a significant enhancement that has happened from BABoK v2 to BABoK v3, which is great.

The highlights of the enhancements are:

  • Introduction of 18 new techniques
  • Rephrasing of the old techniques
  • A lot more explanation
  • Many more perspectives

At the same time, it also has added significant complexity in terms of the language used in the standard.

For example one of the key terms that you encounter in BABoK v3 is business analysis information.

This was called requirements plus other information related to BABoK in BABoKv2.

Now we are going to call this BA information which you may not hear so much about your work. That's the challenge that many of us face because the terminology used in BABoK v3 isn't very close to what we use in our workplace.

That requires some extra effort in trying to memorize and make one familiar with these new terms.

See a video on the BABoK v3 terms

Hence one needs to make himself/herself familiar with the terms used in BABoK v3 to pass the CBAP examination.

  1. Poor Time Management

Time management is one of the key skills for clearing CBAP.

Some quick facts on the CBAP exam:

  • Duration – 3.5 hours
  • Number of questions - 120 with a mix of around 50+ case-based questions and around 70 scenario-based questions
  • Scenarios - short cases
  • Case-based questions - about 1 to 1.5 pages long cases
  • Multiple questions on the case
  • Some mathematical calculation-based questions like ROI calculation etc.
  • Case-based questions require significantly more time compared to the rest of the questions
  • Cases require reading a lot of content and information given; hence it's important to keep track of time spent on these questions.
  • It's suggested to glance through the case first before moving over to the questions and then come back to the case to go through the details and answer accordingly.
  • Many a time the cases may contain information that may seem relevant but that information is not needed to answer the questions.

Hence most of the time people struggle to manage time in this examination unless one is aware of the time management tips.

  1. Getting stressed based on the initial difficulty level of questions

Most of the exams have this kind of approach; the initial few questions are intentionally kept of a higher order of difficulty to test the candidate's confidence and ability to handle the harder questions.

This also tries to test the candidate's ability to maintain the right mental aptitude to answer the rest of the exam questions.

Many exam takers get tense and lose their mental balance seeing the initial level of difficulty of the questions.

And the initial stress negatively affects the performance and ultimately leads to failure.

  1. Underestimating the exam complexity

"I have around 12+ years of business analysis experience; I know this profession and its intricacies thoroughly.

Hence this is going to be a cakewalk for me" – This is what some exam takers feel about the exam.

Underestimating the exam, its rigor, and hence being underprepared is also one of the reasons for failure in CBAP.

Working experience as a BA definitely helps in clearing this exam but that's not the only thing needed to achieve the CBAP goal.

One also needs to dedicate time to prepare from BABoK and CBAP v3 mock questions to be able to clear the exam.

  1. Inadequate preparation

There are various reasons why one may not be adequately prepared for the exam, some of which are given below:

  • Going for the exam too soon
  • Not finding adequate time to prepare
  • Not being guided by the right mentor or coach
  • Not attending a proper CBAP certification training under an EEP (highly recommended by IIBA)
  • Not preparing from the right resources

 9.Inadequate Questions Preparation

It's important to know the concepts well for CBAP and at the same time, it's important to solve enough sample CBAP questions to make one prepared for the exam.

Doing either of them and missing the other is going to lead to failure.

It's also important to pick up sample questions that are of similar complexity to the real exam and can give one the real feeling of the exam.

Many times certification seekers practice from questions that are easier/simpler than the real exam and that makes them get cold feet during the exam.

Hence please look for reviews and success rates before choosing the sample questions set.

  1. Over-reliance on one’s own BA experiences being the single most factor to help them pass the exam

"I have been heading the business analysis team in my organization

I lead a team of 10 business analysts"

"I have set up the business analysis practice in my organization and also for many of my clients"

These are some of the statements we have heard from some certification seekers.

They underestimate the exam and the preparation needed and hence do not achieve their certification goal.

They rely primarily on knowing the business analysis practices to clear the CBAP exam.

One also needs to dedicate time to prepare from BABoK and CBAP v3 mock questions to be able to clear the exam.

Summary

This is only a suggested set of reasons why people usually fail in CBAP; this is not necessarily the entire set of reasons why people fail in CBAP. This set is provided as a guideline to help people not to repeat these mistakes and in turn, help them to pass the certification exam.


CBAP Recertification

CBAP is a very valuable credential for any business analyst to progress in his/her career.

IIBA requires all CBAP certification holders to go for CBAP certification renewal after every 3 years. 

It is a lot easier to get one's CBAP certification renewed than re-writing the CBAP test.

Adaptive US will refund your entire payment if your recertification is unsuccessful for any reason.

CBAP certificate renewal requires 60 CDUs to be submitted.

IIBA has set certain criteria to fulfill these CDU requirements.

Once the above activities are complete, then follow this process to complete the re-certification formalities:

  1. Complete the CBAP CDU Reporting Form 
  2. Complete the CBAP Re-certification Application form, attaching your completed CDU reporting form to it
  3. Pay $85 for members / $120 non-members towards re-certification - To be paid by the candidate

 IIBA must receive the CBAP recipient’s re-certification application package including payment by their certification expiration date.

If re-certification is declined for any reason, IIBA shall send a decline notice.

CBAP Recertification contains:

  • 100+ Learning videos based on BABoK V3 – organized as per chapter and concepts

  • CBAP Study Guide based on BABok V3

  • Support for 1 BA article

  • 6 months access to the learning portal

  • All content as per BABoK V3

CBAP is a very valuable credential for any business analyst to progress in his/her career.

IIBA requires all CBAP certification holders to go for CBAP certification renewal after every 3 years. 

It is a lot easier to get one's CBAP certification renewed than re-writing the CBAP test.

Adaptive US will refund your entire payment if your recertification is unsuccessful for any reason.

CBAP certificate renewal requires 60 CDUs to be submitted.

IIBA has set certain criteria to fulfill these CDU requirements.

Once the above activities are complete, then follow this process to complete the re-certification formalities:

  1. Complete the CBAP CDU Reporting Form 
  2. Complete the CBAP Re-certification Application form, attaching your completed CDU reporting form to it
  3. Pay $85 for members / $120 non-members towards re-certification - To be paid by the candidate

 IIBA must receive the CBAP recipient’s re-certification application package including payment by their certification expiration date.

If re-certification is declined for any reason, IIBA shall send a decline notice.

CBAP Recertification contains:

  • 100+ Learning videos based on BABoK V3 – organized as per chapter and concepts

  • CBAP Study Guide based on BABok V3

  • Support for 1 BA article

  • 6 months access to the learning portal

  • All content as per BABoK V3

CBAP Common Questions

Is the CBAP exam difficult?

CBAP is indeed a tough exam. About 30% of students fail in their first attempt. However, with the right guidance, study aids, and right preparations, one can ensure success in CBAP.

Is CBAP certification worth it?

CBAP certification holders earn significantly higher than those uncertified. Read true stories from our past students @ https://www.adaptiveus.com/cbap-career-transformation-stories/

Which is better CBAP or PMP?

PMP is for project managers. CBAP is for business analysts. Read a detailed comparison of PMP vs. CBAP.

Who can do CBAP certification?

Anyone having 7500 hours of business analysis in the last 10 years is eligible for CBAP meeting few other criteria.

About Adaptive US

Adaptive US is the world's #1 IIBA Certifications training organization. We have helped 1000+ students complete IIBA certifications. Adaptive US provides CBAP, CCBA, ECBA, AAC, CBDA, CCA, and CPOA online training, question banks, study guides, simulators, flashcards, audiobooks, digital learning packs across the globe.

Adaptive US is the only training organization to offer success guarantees and all-inclusive plans for its workshops.


Key facts

  • World's largest BA publisher and assessments provider.

  • Premier Partner to IIBA, Canada.

  • 1000+ certified BA professionals.

  • 300+ BA workshops - 6000+ BAs trained.

  • Our trainers are part of BABoK V3 authoring and exam committees and have served 200+ top-notch clients including Wells-Fargo Bank, Credit Suisse, HP, CGI, AXA, AkzoNobel, Ness, Unisys, etc. We are proud to have a 100% key client retention rate.

Vision

To be the most admired business analysis solutions provider in the world.

Mission

To help our participants and clients succeed in their business analysis career and endeavor.

Quality policy

Delight customers through innovative, timely and cost-effective solution.

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