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PMI-PBA Exam Study Plan

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8 hours ago

In the past few years, I have been involved with hundreds of professionals who would like to have the PMI-PBA certificate, the frequently asked question was: I don’t know from where to begin the journey?

The detailed study plan explained below was created by me relying on my own experience preparing for and passing the PMI-PBA exam, and from the lessons learned I received from the students I guide. The plan below is compromised from twelve steps. With busy professionals who cannot give more than 10 hours a week, the plan below is expected to take 8-10 weeks.

Take less than an hour to read this study plan carefully, this plan will save a lot of your time and efforts!

Step one: Do you want to be a PMI-PBA certified?

How much time and money are required?

First, you should have the serious intent to be a PMI-PBA certified, this intent might come from the career path you have in the business analysis field or from your passion to improve your knowledge in this field. Wherever it’s coming from, the PMI-PBA certification is a great career enhancement for professionals who are involved in project management or business analysis fields. Once you have this intent and you are willing to invest your time and money, you can be a PMI-PBA certificate holder after two to three months from this moment.

Are you eligible for the PMI-PBA exam? As per the PMI standards, you must have a secondary degree (high school diploma, associate degree or the global equivalent), 60 months of business analysis experience, and 35 contact hours of business analysis education, or you should have a four-year degree, 36 months of business analysis experience, and 35 contact hours of business analysis education

The PMI-PBA exam fess is $405 for members and $555 for non-members. So, it’s better and money saving to register for the PMI with the fees of $129 and $10 of application fees, especially if you are willing to have more than a certificate from the Project management Institute (PMI). For more details about the PMI requirements for the PMI-PBA exam and the exam fees, you can check the PMI.org website.

The total cost of this journey will include the exam fees, reference book cost, 35 contact hours course fees and miscellaneous costs of supportive documents. If you have the self-learning ability, I will guide you how to get 100% prepared for the PMI-PBA exam with only $200 including the 35 contact hours and reference book! So, the total cost of the PMI-PBA exam preparation journey will be around 800$ (Including exam fees, 35 contact hours course, reference book, and high-quality simulated tests. If you prefer going to a live classroom in your city to get the educational 35 contact hours, the cost of this journey might reach $1,500.

Most of the business analysis practitioners can afford the $1,000 to get ready for the exam and apply for it; the real issue is the time investment! Like most of us are having a full-time job and family, you want to find the most effective way to get ready. This step-by-step study plan I prepared based on my experience will save your time, no need to search the web for tons of useless data, 10 hours per week for 8-10 weeks following exactly this plan will guarantee your success from the first attempt.

Step Two: Get your reference books.

Pick your reference book! You will hear from other PMI-PBA aspirants that having the 35 contact hours of education before reading the PMI-PBA reference book is better. In my opinion, reading the reference book you selected for one time at least will be much more effective, this is what I advise my students to do before they attend my workshops. Why? Once you start reading the reference book you will start pointing out the topics where you have weaknesses, you will have a good general knowledge of the content, what are the business analysis processes you want to focus on during the 35 contact hours training, this is the reason why I advise you to read the book. You will be aware of content of the training before you join it, highlight all topics you need to improve your knowledge in then go for the educational training. The first reference you should use is the PMI guide to business analysis. This is a process-based standard, aligned with A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) – Sixth Edition, and to be used as a standard framework contributing to the business analysis body of knowledge. This book is a must-read for the PMI-PBA exam preparation, and you can have a look at it through the link here. Through amazon, the price of this book starts at $41which is the best price in the market, or you can have a used copy in a very good condition with less price. The second must read book is Business Analysis for Practitioners: A Practice Guide provides practical resources to tackle the project-related issues associated with requirements and business analysis—and addresses a critical need in the industry for more guidance in this area. The practice guide begins by describing the work of business analysis. It identifies the tasks that are performed, in addition to the essential knowledge and skills needed to effectively perform business analysis on programs and projects. This book is again a must-read reference book for the PMI-PBA exam preparation purposes. You can have a look at it through the link here. Through amazon, the price of this book starts at $24 which is the best price in the market, or you can have a used copy in a very good condition with less price.

Before you attend the 35 contact hours training course, read the PMI guide to business analysis, reading it for the first time should not take more than 2 weeks. During the first round of reading, highlight the important topics, have a note of points you didn’t understand in order to focus on during the training course. You don’t need any other references to prepare for the PMI-PBA exam.

Step Three: Attend the 35 educational contact hours (Live class, webinars, or self-learning paced)

Nowadays, getting the 35 contact hours is very easy, it’s your call! Do you prefer attending a live class around? do a simple search in the place you are living in and register for a live class training, usually it costs from $500 to $1,200 depending on the place you are living in, currency, and instructor repetition. The issue of attending such classes that you need to fit your timing to suit the instructor timing, and it’s usually intensive. Instructors are giving the whole material of the PMI-PBA exam within 3 to 7 days, usually students cannot acknowledge this amount of data within such short time, but still, I know students who prefer having a live class/workshop.

The second option is registering for an interactive online workshop, the instructor will do the 35 contact hours of business analysis education through online webinars while having 10-15 students, it’s money saving and more flexible, for attending such live interactive webinars you can search the web and use course like the ones provided by watermark learning solutions, usually prices for such live webinars are from $500 to $700, and at the end of the course you will have a certificate of completion with 35 contact hours business analysis.

In my point of view, if you have the self-learning ability, you can be eligible for the PMI-PBA exam using the course I created few weeks after I passed the PMI-PBA exam from my first trial, at the end of the course you will have 35 contact hours completion certificate which you can use to fill in your exam application. This training should improve your knowledge in the business analysis field and prepare you to pass the exam, Have a look at the course structure through the link here. It’s a huge save of money comparing to the upper prices, you have more flexibility attending the course content, and whenever you have a question you can post it on the course Q&A section or directly contact use through the website here. Our course will fully prepare you for the PMI-PBA exam, and it will increase your chances to pass from the first trial. You can enroll in our course for a price of $179 including three high-quality mock exams which are very close to the real exam questions.

Now it’s your decision, you can attend a live class, online interacting class, or a self-paced course provided by Elite Minds. The most important thing is to take the maximum benefits out of the course, understand the exam content and structure, business analysis processes, and take a certificate of attending 35 contact hours of business analysis education at the end of the course.

Step Four: Read again the PMI guide to business analysis 

After attending the 35 contact hours course, it’s the time to read the PMI standard to business analysis again. With more focus on the important topics, you have the clear image of the PMI-PBA exam framework, what are the 35 business analysis processes, how do the project flow from defining to releasing in regards of business analysis. Reading the book again will make you 60% ready to pass the PMI-PBA exam, this time with more focus and slow reading.

Step Five: Read the business analysis for practitioners

After completing the PMI guide to business analysis, it is the right time to have a deeper insight into the business analysis tools and techniques, and this what you will have after completing the business analysis for practitioners. This is just a more constricted version of the PMBOK, which you should be studying from first and foremost. This is a helpful book and many of the real exam questions were from this book! The book is mainly categorizing the most advanced business analysis tools and techniques as per the process groups. If you still didn’t get this book, it is again a must read one, you can have a look at the book through the link here.

Step Six: Be aware of the PMI-PBA exam structure and each domain share in the exam

Knowing the exam structure will help you highlight the important domains and processes. You will know where to focus, and from which domain the biggest share of question will come. The PMI-PBA exam is composed of 200 multiple choice questions which you have to complete in 3 hours 50 minutes. Now to get my point out of this step, below is the list which shows the domains percentage as per the PMI latest exam content outline: Needs assessment (18%), Planning (22%), Analysis (35%), Traceability and monitoring (15%), and evaluation (10%). You need to master the 35 business analysis processes! Understand deeply each of them, memorize the key inputs, tools, techniques, and outputs. In addition, you need to understand all related terms, give those 35 processes a lot of time, this will increase your probability passing the exam from the first attempt. Advanced tools and techniques of the business analysis for practitioners are also very important for the exam.

Step Seven: Highlight your weaknesses and PMI-PBA Exam hot Topics

Now you know how the real PMI-PBA exam will look like, and you have been through the reference books and the 35 contact hours training course. It is normal to have few weakness points which you need to give more attention to. In addition to the points you highlighted, I am listing below the PMI-PBA exam hot topics where the majority of the exam questions come from:

  1. Product requirements, when performing the work of requirements elicitation, specification, or requirements management, one may choose to indicate the type of requirement to be able to communicate whether the product requirement represents a need of the business, an aspect of the solution, or a product requirement for a particular stakeholder group.
  2. Stakeholders’ analysis models. Stakeholder analysis technique is used to analyze each stakeholder potential impact or influence to manage effectively throughout project life cycle. Classification tools which can be used include power/influence grid, power/interest grid, influence/impact grid, stakeholder cube, and salience model which describes stakeholders based on power, urgency, and legitimacy.
  3. Tools and Techniques. Direct questions about tools and techniques used in business analysis activities: Benchmarking, competitive analysis, market analysis, weighted decision making, Onion diagram, stakeholder matrix, Capability framework, Root cause analysis, Gap analysis, Questionnaires and surveys, Job analysis, RACI model, Poker estimation, SWOT analysis, 5-Whys.
  4. Weighted ranking. Ranking two or more options can be done using various techniques. A practical and effective method is to use a weighted ranking matrix. A weighted ranking matrix or table combines pair-matching with weighted criteria to add objectivity to a recommendation.
  5. Modelling techniques. Models are visual representations of information, in the form of diagrams, tables, or structured text, that effectively arrange and convey a lot of information in a concise manner. The models are organized into five categories: Scope, process, rule, data, and interface.
  6. Feasibility assessment. Before deciding which option is preferred, the business analyst assesses the feasibility of each possible option. The feasibility assessment can be operational, technology, cost-effectiveness, or time. 
  7. Business analysis plan, if formally documented, may be a subplan of the portfolio, program, or project management plan or may be a separate plan. It defines the business analysis approach through the assembly of the sub-approaches across all knowledge areas.
  8. Traceability Matrix. It is a grid that links product requirements from their origin to the deliverables that satisfy them. The matrix can support linkages among many different types of objects, providing a mechanism for tracking product information through the project and product life cycles.
  9. Change Management. Managing changes to requirements and other product information entails maintaining the integrity of the requirements and the associated deliverables and work products and ensuring that each new requirement aligns with the business need and business objectives.
  10. Group decision-making techniques are techniques that can be used in a group setting to bring participants to a final decision on an issue or topic under discussion. Expect questions about the difference between plurality, majority, unanimity, and autocratic.

Step Eight: It’s the time to test your self

At this stage, you are almost ready to go for the real PMI-PBA exam, one step remains before you schedule your exam date, test your readiness for the real PMI-PBA exam. At this stage you are done with the 35 contact hours, read the two reference books needed, highlighted the hot topics of the exam, and familiar with the exam structure. I have created a course that contains three simulated tests each with 200 questions which you need to complete in three hours fifty minute. Overall, the course contains 600 questions, my practice tests questions are like the real PMI-PBA exam questions as I wrote them few days after I passed the exam. PMI-PBA exam questions are not short and direct to the point! The majority of the 200 questions are situational such as: Which of the following describes the best action? What’s next? What’s first to do? Else than situational questions, you will have long wordy questions, the concept of this step is to check if you are ready to schedule your exam or not. You can enroll in the PMI-PBA exam preparation package through the link here, or you can buy only the three exams set through the link here. Set in your room, open the laptop, have a plain A4 paper, with simple calculator, off your mobile and be away from any possible interruption, you must finish the 200 questions in 3 hours 50 minutes with a passing score of minimum 160 out of 200. Go for practice test # 1, you will practice the second and third exams of the course in later stages.

It’s ok if you were not able to complete the 200 questions within exam time frame in the first attempt, what’s important is to get a score of +160 out of 200 questions, if you got this result, move to next step, if not, don’t worry, just refer back to step four of this study plan and repeat tell you reach this step again, and this time use practice test # 2. Go forward with this study plan once you get a result of 80% or more.

Step Nine: Schedule your exam 2 weeks ahead

Now it’s the time to schedule your exam date, go for the PMI.org website and follow steps below to fill your application online:

1.  Visit the website pmi.org, select membership from the home page upper bar. Choose the individual membership type which will cost you 129$ + 10 $. Press on join now, fill in your information and create your account.

2.  Now once you are done with the PMI log in and membership process, go back to the home page and select certifications from the home page upper bar and choose Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA) ®then press on apply now. 

3.  Fill in your address and work address, then fill your contact information (Email address and phone number).

4.  Fill in your attained education information (bachelor’s degree or diploma).

5.  Start with the requirements overview then save and continue. 

6.  Press on the project experience link and fill in your projects experience with the following:

  1. Start and end date of each project
  2. You’re role (Job Title) and the industry field.
  3. Your organization name and address.
  4. Your reporting manager/colleague and his/her contact information (Email and address)
  5. Your experience divided into 5 parts,

Note: The description of each project shall not exceed 500 characters!

Keep doing and mention all the projects you want to until you have the sum of all projects as the required hours of the exam.

7. Fill in your business analysis educational hours, title of the course, institute name, start and end dates of the course, and the number of hours.

8. Mention your name as how you want it to appear on the certificate.

9. Read the agreement then click the box “I agree “.

10. Review your application then submit.

11. Pay the Exam Fees, $405 as you already a member.

Wait for the notice authorizing you either to schedule your exam or to inform you that your application will be subjected to an audit before it’s approved. Once your application is approved, you can schedule your exam date two weeks ahead by checking parametric centers available in your location and their availability. Note that once you receive your authorization notice; you must pass the exam within one year.

In case your application was selected for the audit, relax, they will send you an experience audit form- verification form - for each experience you mentioned, you should sign it from your supervisor or colleague, and send a copy of your bachelor’s degree certificate and your 35 contact hours training certificate. If you took one of the above courses, print the softcopy you will have at the end of the course and send it, It will be accepted for sure (As I did it myself). You should send a hardcopy of all these documents to the address mentioned on the PMI website and wait for the results. It’s very rare to fail in the audit process, the only reasons of failure are: having false information “Fraud “, candidates choose not to attempt audit – one year suspension period or not being able to verify the experience or the educational hours.

Step Ten: Practice, practice, practice

From my experience helping students pass the PMI-PBA exam, one of the core reasons why people fail in their first trial is the shortage of time, solving 200 questions (Most of them are situational and long) within 3 hours and 50 minutes time frame isn’t easy! The best practice to come over the timing challenge is to practice as much as you can. Practicing the exam questions will get you closer to the real exam environment, you can have an idea about the exam questions through the free resources I include in this blog. The next stage shall be practicing timely tested simulation exams, practice the real exam environment, through the course you enrolled into in step eight! Have a plain A4 paper, with simple calculator, off your mobile and be away from any possible interruption. You have to finish the 200 questions in 3 hours and 50 minutes with a passing score of minimum 160 out of 200. Practice the second and third exams of the course and be ready with the real exam circumstances. If you didn’t enroll for the 3 simulates tests in step eight, here is the link where you can do with $49 only.

Step Eleven: Go and Pass

One night before the exam, relax and have a good sleep. In the morning, have a good breakfast, and be at the testing center 1 hour before the exam. Once you enter the examination room, you will have your own desktop with a simple calculator, few white papers, and a pencil. Read the exam tutorial which will appear automatically on the screen, It will explain for you that the exam includes 200 multiple choice questions and that exam timing is 3 hours and 50 minutes. Start your exam, you will be able to mark the question you are not sure of its answer in order to review later on, do not keep your eyes on the timer, take a look each 50 questions only. A lot of the exam questions will be a case description followed by a question asking what the best is to do, in this type of questions you cannot guarantee 100% that you picked the right answer, but trust me, just follow the knowledge you learned in the preparation journey and for sure you will pick the right answer. Don’t get confused during the exam, just highlight questions you are not sure of their answers and go for the next question. Once you are done, click finish, they will ask you to do a short survey about the testing center; once you are done you will have your exam result with a short report of each domain score.

Step Twelve: What’s next? Maintain your certificate gaining PDU’s

Once you get the PMI-PBA certificate, your journey to maintain your certificate each three years will begin, you need to gain 60 PDU’s within three years of time to renew your PMI-PBA status. In this article am listing all key points you need to know about the PDU’s. PDU refers to professional development unit. There are two types of professional development units (PDUs) that you can claim towards renewal —Education and Giving Back to the Profession. Under each of these categories there are numerous options and, once you’ve satisfied certain educational requirements, the rest is up to you.

PMI PDU requirements for the PMI-PBA certification is a quality assurance mechanism to ensure PMI-PBA certificate holders are up to date with latest project management and business analysis fields concepts, best practices and trends; simply, the PDU is a system which will encourage PMI-PBA certificate holders for continues education.

In general, 1 PMI-PBA® PDU equals 1 hour of participation in the PDU activity, PMI accepts PDUs to be recorded in quarterly increment (in the multiple of 0.25 PDU) for educational activities, for the rest PMI-PBA® PDUs must be submitted in multiples of 1 PDU.

On the other hand, if you are not able to accumulate 60 PMI-PBA® PDU during your 3-year cycle, the PMI-PBA® credential will be suspended. PMI gives you 1 extra year to earn the required PDU. But be reminded that the next 3-year re-certification cycle will still be counted from your original credential end date. 

Once you collect the 60 PDU’s, you can apply for the credential renewal for $60 if you are a PMI member and $150 if you are not. Below I am listing the best ways to earn to PDU’s for the PMI-PBA exam

Your day job, Earn 8 PDU’s for FREE. If you work as a project manager/business analyst this is probably the easiest way to tick off up to 4 PDU’s per three-year period. For the details on this and the other PDU categories mentioned below please refer to the link here.

Learn deeply practical project management on Udemy, earn 15 PDU’s @$10. A course created by William Stewart, applying the project management processes into practical life. Highly recommended for project management and business analysis practitioners, and you can earn 15 PDU’s for the PMI PBA renewal process, the course contains  9 hours of video, you can register here for $10.

Learn MS project beginner to expert on Udemy, earn 9 PDU’s @ $10. Microsoft project is the most commonly used scheduling software in project management; even you are not a planner! you should be aware of using MS project, Srikanth Shirodkar created the best seller MS project course on Udemy, which you make use of to learn MS project and earn 9 PDU’s for your PMI-PBA renewal process, the course is 9 hours videos, and you can register through the link here for $10.

Learn Microsoft Excel for Project Managers on Udemy, earn 5 PDU’s @$10. Microsoft Excel can help you with so much of that! In this course you’re going to explore lots of things that Microsoft Excel can do for project management. You’ll dive into formatting, charting, conditional formatting, and building a custom dashboard and report. If you don’t have a more advanced project management software, that’s okay, you can do much of that business right in Microsoft Excel, this course is worth five (5) Professional Development Units with the Project Management Institute, the course is 5 hours videos, and you can register through the link here for $10.

PMP seminar on Udemy, Earn 35 PDU’s @ $10. Formal academic educational courses related to Project Management is one of the easier categories, Joseph Philips created a course on Udemy which includes 35 PDU’s with 20 Hours of Technical project management, 9 hours of business skills, and 6 hours of leadership skills. At the end of the course, you will have a certificate of completion which you can submit for the PMI renewal process, this seminar is considered as a great tool to refresh your knowledge in the PMBOK material. The course is 24 hours video, and you can register through the link here for $10.

Volunteer Service. Become a volunteer of your local project management association like PMI Saudi chapter or PMI Jordan chapter and earn 1 PDU for each hour of service. A letter or certificate from the organization acknowledging the participation is required for confirmation.

Create new Project Management Knowledge. There is a lot you can do in this category to earn PDUs. You could be authoring or co-authoring articles, books or newsletters, present a webinar or podcast, or create and present a project management course. Each will earn you PDUs. The rule is that every hour spent in preparing and delivering these activities is equal to one PDU. The PDUs claimed in this category count toward the 12 PDU’s maximum.

Self-Study. Do you consume a lot of materials like reading articles or books, watching videos? If you participated in any of these activities and the topic at hand was relevant to project management, had a specified purpose and used knowledgeable resources then you can claim 1 PDU for each hour spent on this as “self-study”.

How to Submit PDU?

PMI supplies you with an online “Continuing Certification Requirements System” to record your PDU. After you have attended PDU activities, you can submit the PDU activity details through the Continuing Credential Requirements System (CCRS). If you participate in a webinar by PMI or projectmanagement.com, your PDU will be automatically recorded and there is no need to enter it manually.

After you have submitted the PDU request, PMI will review and approve the PDUs. You will receive an email and the PDU will be added to your account once PMI approve your request. PMI may require you to submit supporting documents with reference to the particular categories of PDU you are claiming within 5 days in order to evaluate your claim, after you have collected enough PDUs in your PMI-PBA® renewal cycle, PMI will send you an email asking you to complete the form and pay for credential renewal. The PMI-PBA® renewal fee is US$60 for PMI members and US$150 for non-members as I mentioned earlier, the renewal application and payment process must be completed in 90 days after your credential end date for you to keep your PMI-PBA® status. PMI will send the new PMI-PBA® certificate to you within 6 to 8 weeks. Your PDU application might be selected for audit randomly before you are approved for PMI-PBA® renewal. You will need to present proof/documentation for all the PDU claimed during the 3-year cycle to PMI for verification.

Good Luck in your Journey!