books, certification, exam, study, TOGAF
Having successfully become certified with TOGAF 9. I thought it would be good to share some hints, tips and observations that have helped me along the way. So as you may know the exam is conducted through multiple choice – but that simple examination approach should not give a false sense of ease – because a lot of the options will sound right (until you understand the exact technical meanings).
- Training course or not to training course, that is the question? Personally I wouldn’t taken on the exam without the training – the TOGAF full text runs to 1000 pages. The course for me at least gave 1000 foot view, an some insight from practitioners and the 1st set of suggestions on preparing for the exam.
- One of the key points I picked up is the terminology and language is very important. Understand the key terms and read questions very carefully and a lot of information will standout. As I was told when on the training, it is surprisingly common for the right answer to often be the longest textual answer because it is being semantically accurate.
- Books – well I’d suggest that the full TOGAF® Version 9.1 manual is a desk reference for whilst practicing TOGAF. To get the exam under your belt read TOGAF® 9 Foundation Study Guide you will need to pretty much need to know this stuff cover to cover. Although the guide is Foundation stage – it will get you a long way and you can add additional knowledge from the TOGAF® Version 9.1 A Pocket Guide
- From these guides you need to know the ADM itself, including the steps in each phase, what the techniques are for and why you might use them (things like gap analysis etc).
- The study guide has mock stage 1 exams, and each section also has practice questions – take advantage of them. The questions are stylistically pretty good, although in hindsight perhaps erring of the easier side, and the mock exam questions got progressively harder in my opinion. But the real exam for me, question 1 was a real curve ball.
- There are other sources of mock questions (including other books) – I found the mock exams at http://theopenarch.com/ helpful. After each mock exam, I reviewed the answers that I got wrong to try and understand why they are wrong – which helped me identify any areas of reading I was weak on.
- Read the questions very carefully, there are sometimes indicators as the right answer in the question. Also watch for things like, not what answer in A-E is right, but which one is wrong.
- Timing – 60 minutes for 40 questions in part 1 doesn’t sound like very long – particularly given the advise of take your time read the questions very carefully. But actually, you’ll find once you’ve got a handle on a chunk of the study guide you’ll find you can rip through some of the questions very quickly giving you time to think carefully about the questions that aren’t so easy – the exam also has means by which you can go back and review questions if you want.
- For the harder questions, in part 1 I ended up writing A-E on the paper and crossing off the answers I could eliminate. That made it easier (for me at least) to then focus on dissecting the 1 or 2 possible options left. In part 2, I applied a similar approach – part 2 is more about which phase(s) do I need to use and what are the steps. So I took each possible answer and wrote on paper what phase(s) then answer needed and then went through each answer option teasing out the terminology for the different steps (and the phases they originated from). The option with the most steps from the correct phase, appear to give me the best or second best answers.
- Part 1 is closed book, but part 2 you are meant to be able to refer to the TOGAF material – for me the link to the TOGAF reference failed. So best not to bank on having it available.
Aside all of this there are classic exam suggestions – give yourself time to get to the exam location – a calm composed mind is crucial for this. Try and rush through this and you’re potentially facing a disaster. Make sure you have all the information the test centre requires (id’s etc) – one less stress. Travel light as you wont be able to take anything into the test room. Finally, try and get into ‘the zone’ and roll with the blows dont let the process of taking the exams stress you. I thought I’d scrapped through stage 1, and flunked stage 2 – but discovered I came through with reasonably good scores.