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Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid When Earning your CBAP®, CCBA® or ECBA®

I’ve been helping people obtain their CBAP® since 2007 and later CCBA® and ECBA®, and I’ve seen a number of approaches. Most have been successful I’m happy to say. A few others have not been, either because candidates stressed out or were underprepared. The individuals were understandably disappointed. This article is a summary of the top mistakes people have made in working towards their CBAP®, CCBA® or ECBA®, including my own experience with the CBAP and PMP®.

1. Not enough study time. One of the few individuals I know (let’s call him Larry) who failed to clear his exam did not allow enough time for studying and failed. He confided that he spent the week before his exam studying, which he admitted was clearly not enough time. Our company conducted research of CBAP candidates and it revealed that successful candidates spent an average of around 100 hours studying for their CBAP. If you are like most people, you will need to spread that out over several weeks, if not months. Most people said that a training from Vellicate ( helped them reduced the preparation time significantly.

2. Applying too soon. You have one year to take the exam after your CBAP/CCBA/ECBA application is approved, which in most cases is sufficient. If you are not sure, then wait until you have gotten comfortable with the BABOK® and then submit your application. It took me two years to complete my PMP, so I know that life and work can get in the way. A student of mine waited until two weeks before her one-year deadline to take a class and to begin studying in earnest. I’d like to say she passed, but she didn’t. Her deadline and insufficient study time were the culprits.

3. Using only one Method of Study. A prime cause of stress over the CBAP or CCBA or ECBA that I have observed is relying on one primary method of study. In my case, I relied solely on the BABOK® Guide, and only read it once at that. During my CBAP exam I felt a dread come over me and thought I was going to fail. There were several questions I felt completely unprepared for and more than once wished I had studied using more than my one method. That is one of the reasons I have committed myself to helping others pass the CBAP exam. Vellicate provides multiple high quality preparation resources to suit your learning style. ( -> Exam Prep)

4. Relying on the Wrong Method of Study. There is no one study formula that works for everyone. If you prefer studying with others, a study group or class would be more motivating and successful than studying on your own. If you study better independently and prefer immersing review what they have studied. Another learning style prefers reading, research, and note-taking, while another prefers practical action such as taking practice exams and simulations. Using non-compatible methods (such as re-reading the BABOK® Guide for a practical learner) will tend to de-motivate you and may even prevent you from finishing your certification.

5. Not Answering Enough Practice Questions. It may sound like a sales pitch, but it is essential to practice answering as many sample exam questions as possible. (Full disclosure: we offer a CBAP/CCBA/ECBA Online Study Exam.) It gets you into the right mind-set so you are not surprised by the “tenor and tone” of the real exam. You can also learn important things by answering questions and learning from your mistakes.

6. Trying to Reconcile the BABOK® with Your Work Experience. I have seen many people become stressed over comparing the BABOK® Guide with their “real life” experience. A discussion of how the BABOK® differs from “real life” has happened in every single CBAP Prep class I have taught. The BABOK® Guide is wonderful and contains a broad array of knowledge, tasks, and techniques that people around the world have found successful in doing business analysis. My advice: set your personal experience aside and concentrate on mastering the content in the BABOK®, which is what the CBAP, CCBA and ECBA exams are based on.

7. Answering Questions Based on Your Work Experience. A related mistake is to take your experience into the exam and use it to answer questions. The CBAP and CCBA exams have numerous “distracters” to tempt you into answering according to your individual experience and not with the “generally accepted practice of business analysis.”

8. Trying to Memorize the BABOK® Guide. True, it is helpful to commit to memory some of the key BABOK® concepts and terms. We suggest several mnemonics in our materials. But, you will need to apply them to situational questions in the CBAP exam. (The CCBA exam contains more knowledge-based questions and rote memorization may help you more with this one.) There will be many problem-solving types of questions on the CBAP exam and you will be asked to apply your knowledge to answer these types of questions.

9. Not Starting. I know several people who have said they want to get their CBAP or CCBA certification, but have many reasons why they have not pursued it. It could be not enough time to prepare, the lack of a study group, the cost, or not enough hours of BA experience. These are all reasons to avoid starting, but you will never receive the benefits of certification if you don’t start: personal satisfaction, greater credibility, selection on better and higher-profile projects, getting hired as employees and consultants, and higher pay.

10. Not Finishing. I know other people who have started the CBAP certification process, but have stalled out. Again, it could be because of time pressures at home or work. I can relate to that, because I kept postponing my PMP exam and it took me two years to finish. The key is to not lose sight of your goal and keep at it when you do have time. The results and sense of accomplishment are well worth the effort. If you don't study, you are likely to forget the concepts. You can use our self-paced learning ( to re-start your preparation.

Another pitfall to avoid is Falling Prey to Misleading Advertisements. I know other people who have falen prey to unfounded claims and advertisements. The key is to not lose your analytical skills while selecting your training partner. Remember, you don't attend the same training again. Hence, don't lose this learning opportunity in addition to failing in the exam.

Hopefully, reading about these mistakes will help you to avoid making them yourself. Best wishes on passing the CBAP, CCBA or ECBA exam!

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