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8 tips for passing your CBAP or CCBA exam

Close up of day planner with pen on desk

I have always been an avid note-taker, and this weekend I have been clearing

out a folder full of old notes.  I came across an absolute gem which I thought you might find valuable.


I took my CBAP exam a year or so ago.  On the train home from the exam centre, I wrote down my impressions of the exam itself.

Close up of day planner with pen on desk
Note taking - useful to remember insight!


I used the title: Notes made immediately after CBAP exam. AKA “Things I would tell myself if I was sitting this again”


I hope you find this insight useful!


My (largely unedited) notes are pasted below:


 1.    You have plenty of time: You have 3.5 hours to complete the exam (150 questions), this is more than adequate and allows time for re-visiting questions that you weren’t sure about.


 2.    RTFQ (read the ‘full’ question):  The questions use very specific wording, and it would be incredibly easy to misinterpret them if you read them quickly.  So read and re-read the question (and the answers) before submitting!


3.    Watch out for negative phrasing:  E.g. “Which is the LEAST appropriate reason……..”.


 4.    Terminology:  It proved incredibly useful to know the exact terminology used in the BABOK.  This comes in useful when trying to respond to a question you’re not sure about… you can eliminate some answers simply by realising that they aren’t proper BABOK terms:


Example:  “Which techniques are used for xyz”.  If an answer includes “Organisational diagramming” then it’s probably wrong… as the BABOK term is “Organisational modelling”



5.    Ignore what other people are doing:  In the exam I sat, there were two other candidates, one who was scribbling quite intensely on his scratch pad.  I can only assume he was sitting another exam… although it was a little unnerving at first!


 6.    Be prepared for background noise:  When I sat the exam, a class started in an adjoining room and I could clearly hear the instructors voice… which was a little distracting.  If I was sitting it again, I would seriously consider bringing ear-plugs in case that happens again.


7.    Don’t focus purely on 3rd party practice questions:  IIBA do not issue past papers or practice questions, but a number of training organisations offer study guides or courses.  The only way to prepare is to know the BABOK cover to cover.   Practice questions from a reputable training supplier will be indispensable, but also reserve time for re-reading your BABOK study or training course notes


8.    Plan for fatigue:  I hadn’t sat an exam for a while, and started to suffer from fatigue where my mind wandered.  It is worth preparing for this… e.g. more exam practice.  And if it does happen, ask to take a bathroom break to get fresh air and re-focus the mind!




I hope you find these tips useful.  Have you recently sat your CBAP exam? What tips would you give?

6 thoughts on “8 tips for passing your CBAP or CCBA exam”

  1. Hi Adrian

    Thanks for sharing this very practical information. They are really good points!

    I am especially impressed that you had the nouse to take down some notes after the exam. I personally would have dissolved into a molten catatonic blob on the train home! 🙂

    Anyway, a useful technique to apply in circumstances like that.


  2. I second #4 wholeheartedly. I used to rely on basic concepts on tests, but it won’t work well in this case (fortunately I took practice test to find that out, and not on the real test). Some things that seem the same have distinct difference according to the BABOK guide. You need to know those difference (because I guarantee both of them will be answer choices)

    1. Hi Angelo, thanks very much for the comment. I agree! I have to say I’m someone who finds it *really* difficult to just memorise things — so I generally find myself having to ‘work out’ the answer by thinking about what I’d really do in the circumstances (i.e. deconstructing the question and/or scenario). Of course, the challenge with this is that it won’t help with specific terminology… so I did find myself having to do *some* memorisation for the exam!

      However, I do know that the balance of recall (pure memory based) and application (scenario based) differs between CBAP/CCBA — I mention this as anyone reading this who is preparing for CCBA may need to focus even more on memorisation…. whereas CBAP will have normally have more questions based on mini-scenarios than CCBA. Either way though, a good memory is an asset 🙂

      PS – I took a look at your blog — you have some very useful material there!

      ( Readers of this article might be interested in Angelo’s blog too, particularly )

      Thanks again for the comment!

      — Adrian

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