Key Notes for Getting PMI-PBA Certification

Why did I decide to get PMI-PBA certification?

Cemal Çakmak
May 21 · 6 min read

PMI-PBA is a Business Analysis Expertise Certification prepared by Project Management Institute. I got this certification after 3 months of dedicated study. I believe this certification will improve your business analysis skills via providing elicitation and analysis methods, and detailing business analysis processes in different project development life cycles. You can benefit from these learnings while defining business and technical requirements and shaping your project outputs.

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Before deciding to get PMI-PBA Certification, my expectations from a business analysis certification were learning elicitation and analysis techniques, having some tips in CR management, and understanding relationship and boundaries between business analysis and project management. Then, I did a research on PMI-PBA and IIBA-CBAP certifications. I saw some criticisms that even though PMI-PBA is a business analysis certification, it includes information related to relationship between business analysis and project management. Some people did not like the idea of a business analysis certification like PMI-PBA including details related to project management. However, since I was also curious about project management, I decided to take PMI-PBA certification at first and this certification met my expectations. Still, since IIBA-CBAP is more widely known in business analysis field, I am planning to take this certification in near future as well.

How to apply to PMI-PBA?

You can check eligibility rules, application & payment process in “Handbook” document under “Downloads” section of .

You can take the exam without being a member of PMI but if you become a member by paying 139 USD , then you will take a discount from exam fee and you will have access to some of the resources.

You will be able to see available exam dates after making payment. However, you may want to finish your studies before scheduling exam date. When I checked the earliest available date after making payment, the earliest available date was after three months. Since PMI does not allow seeing available exam dates before making payment, I had to wait 3 months before the exam even if I finished most of my studies. You should consider this info before planning your studies. Ps. I took the exam in Istanbul, and “3 months waiting period” may change in your region.

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Exam Domains:

There are 5 different domains in the exam: Needs Assessment (18%), Planning (22%), Analysis (35%), Traceability and Monitoring (15%), Evaluation (10%). You can see summary of each domain below, and you can find all details about domains in “Exam Content Outline” document under “Downloads” section of .

  1. Needs Assessment: Understanding business problem or opportunity, and required inputs to develop an effective solution

2. Planning: Preparation to manage the business analysis activities in projects by establishing tools, policies, and procedures for the requirements management plan, requirements traceability, change management, document control, and acceptance criteria

3. Analysis: Requirement management activities including elicitation, analysis, decomposition, acceptance, approval, specification, and validation of the requirements

4. Traceability and Monitoring: Managing the life cycle of requirements by monitoring and documenting requirements, and communication of the requirements status with stakeholders

5. Evaluation: Assessment of delivered solution including testing of the solution, determining gaps, and obtaining sign-off

How to study?

You can find all resources related to the exam .

In my opinion, you do not have to study all of the resources in “Professional in Business Analysis Reference Materials” list. I took the exam once and I got a high score from the exam. You can have adequate information by studying “Business Analysis for Practitioners: A Practice Guide” and “The PMI Guide to Business Analysis” documents to get a high score from the exam.

1. “Business Analysis for Practitioners: A Practice Guide”: This document is not too long (around 200 pages) but you will find critical information related to the exam in this document. So reading this document at least twice will help you to understand main idea of each domain. However, this document does not cover all the necessary details for this exam.

2. “The PMI Guide to Business Analysis” is the main manual. This is a long document. If you want to learn all topics with details, you can read this document. But it can be more efficient to read this document after finishing “Business Analysis for Practitioners: A Practice Guide”. In this way, you can focus only the parts that you could not find on “Business Analysis for Practitioners: A Practice Guide” document and it can be faster to cover all domains.

3. After studying “Business Analysis for Practitioners: A Practice Guide” and “The PMI Guide to Business Analysis” documents, you will cover 90–95% of all topics related to the exam. You can check other documents in the “Professional in Business Analysis Reference Materials” of course but I remember only a few number of questions not covered in these two books. As far as I remember, the questions I was not familiar with in the exam were related to quality assurance of the projects.

There are some sources providing sample questions for the exam. In my opinion, these sources are not well prepared enough. Still these sources are useful to test yourself before the exam and to find the domains you need to study more.

Below, you can find two exam sample sources I studied:

  1. Good thing about this source is the author provided detailed explanations for the answers of the questions. However, English level of the questions and answers in the document is not good enough. Therefore, it can be difficult to understand some of the sample questions.

2. In the sample exams of this source, sample questions were not just related to PBA, there were also some questions related to PMP. Still they are helpful to learn new terms related to business analysis and project management.

Tips for the exam:

  • My first tip is “take the first step and plan”. :) If you study on the resources above by understanding all the chapters deeply, there is no reason for you to fail the exam.
  • There are 200 questions and you have to finish the exam in 4 hours. So you can allocate 1 hour for each 50-question. At the end of each hour, you can check remaining question number so you can adjust your answering speed.
  • 25 of the questions are dummy and there is not any clue about which questions are dummy. Since these questions are prepared to steal your time, they can be more complicated or unclear ones. Therefore, you should not spend too much time to complicated or unclear questions. You can put flags and you can answer them in the second round.
  • Exam allows you to put flags to questions. In this way, you can check your answers to the questions you put flag at the end of the exam.
  • When the exam is finished, an employee in the exam center gave me a summary for the result of the exam.
  • In 2 days, PMI sent me the certification and detailed exam result to my e-mail address. Then, in a few weeks, I received the certification as hard copy.

Good luck in the exam! :)

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