By Harry Smith
The ECBA is another certification offered by the IIBA to test a candidate’s knowledge and understanding in the field of business analysis. EBCA or Entry Certificate in Business Analysis recognizes the entry-level competency of Business Analysts.
What are the best practices for preparing for the ECBA certification? Your first take on the exam can be daunting as with other exams, and for many candidates, the ideal scenario would be (and should be) to get it done and to pass on the first take.
Here are some ECBA certification preparation strategies that can help you prepare effectively. The first thing to identify is whether or not you qualify for this certification.
- A fresh graduate entering the business analysis industry?
- A professional looking for a career change toward Business Analysis?
- A Team Lead who manages Business Analysts?
This list isn’t a definite one, but it should give you an idea of where you need to be in terms of expertise to take this certification. Once you’ve identified that, let’s move on to getting prepared.
#1 Getting familiar with the basics of Business Analysis
Understanding the basic concepts in the field of business analysis is necessary before proceeding with the certification. Familiarizing, reading the definitions of business analysis, as well as understanding how it works are all essential elements of the certification. It’s also ideal to know the tools and software development in this field.
#2 Understanding the BABOK Guide
It’s highly advisable to go through the BABOK Guide as the ECBA certification has precise and focused content. Reading and understanding the BABOK Guide will help you understand the ECBA exam objectives, too.
#3 Joining an ECBA Training Course
If you’re relatively new to the Business Analysis industry, taking an ECBA training course would be helpful to get you started on the ECBA exam objectives and prepare yourself for the exam. The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) has a list of Endorsed Education Providers (EEP) such as https://www.adaptiveus.com/ecba-certification-training/ that are mentioned on the IIBA website. These authorized business analysis training providers are extremely helpful in preparing for the ECBA.
#4 Practicing using ECBA mock tests
Practice makes perfect, and the same is true for the ECBA certification. Preparing yourself through practice test sessions and mock tests are extremely beneficial as it can give you an idea of your level of understanding, what elements you need to work on, and mistakes you need to rectify. It’s advisable that you practice in various knowledge areas, paying attention to the areas which you feel less confident in or unsure of. Once you have a good grasp of these areas, you can progress toward completing full-length practice tests. When you continue to score 80% or above on these mock tests, you’re on your road to pass the ECBA certification exam.
Useful Tips in Preparing for your ECBA Exams
- Look out for local IIBA meetings and join them, so you can join group study sessions and review any available study material. Facebook is a great place to find groups.
- Join ECBA forums to check out the discussions concerning the exam.
- Go through the FAQ section of the IIBA website to find out all you can about the ECBA certification, such as testing center, fees, how to register, and so on.
- Check that the ECBA tests aren’t expected to be perspective-based, application, or techniques-based assessments.
- Go through the BABOK as often as you can since a majority of the questions on ECBA will be BABOK-based.
- Set your plan to prepare for the exam’s way ahead of time.
- Reach each chapter of BABOK and make notes, so you can revise it the day before your exam.
Proper preparation is always essential in any exam – the ECBA included. With diligence, preparation, and discipline, you can be confident to pass the ECBA on your first attempt.
Preparing Yourself on the Day of the Exam
Preparation on Day Zero (on the day of the exam), or even the day before the exam, is just as important as the preparation you do to study and learn. Here are some tips to remind yourself of the things you can do when it’s go-time:
#1 Wake up early.
It’s vital that you wake up early on the day of the exam, so you can prepare both your mind and body. When you wake up, do a little stretching while still in your bed to bring awareness to your muscles and nerves. Once you’re up and walking about, put on some music, do a little exercise if you can, and go get a shower. This will awaken your senses and put your mind in a good mood. Remember to have a good breakfast that has fiber and protein, so your mind is alert, and your body is energized.
#2 Wear the right attire.
Wherever in the world you might be taking the exam, think about the climate and weather conditions, as well as the environment. Wear clothing that’s comfortable, bring a jacket in case the room is chilly, wear light clothing if the weather is warm. You want to keep clothing smart casual, and you want to be at ease to minimize any distractions from the external effects of your clothing.
#3 Eat the right foods.
Eating the right foods the day before is as essential as the foods you’d eat on the day of the exam. You don’t want to get any food poisoning, diarrhea, bloating, or uneasiness as a result of the foods you ate. This is just not any other day. The right meals can put you in the right state of mind and body. Your breakfast and lunch should keep you energized and full. Make sure that you eat foods that are high in calcium and fiber, have snacks that are low in sugar, such as nuts and fruits. The day before and on the day of the exam aren’t the best times to be adventurous with your food, so stick with nutritious and common meals. Meal prepping your breakfast and lunch the day before is also a good idea so as not to waste any time. Grab ideal food options such as salads, sandwiches, and smoothies.
#4 Brain exercises
As you’re eating your breakfast and getting ready for what’s to come ahead, read some articles, catch up on the news, or just do a crossword puzzle. This just helps your brain to get in the mood of processing information. Light reading before an exam is similar to stretching your body before a run. Try not to read anything related to the exam, or your notes, or any material before the test as you don’t want to psych yourself out. If you really must, you can read your notes, go over the terms, glance at some material at least one more time, but try not to cram everything in as this will just damage the information you’ve already stored.
#5 Fill a bottle of water.
You can bring in a bottle of water into the exam hall. Drinking sips of water throughout the exam helps to not only quench your thirst, but it will also refresh your mind. Sometimes, it will also help you think better as your brain is hydrated. Don’t drink copious amounts of water or you will need to take several bathroom breaks. Some exam centers don’t allow or only allow you to go a few times. If you want, you can also pack a snack of dried fruits and nuts to eat, in case you get hungry before the exams begin or just right after the exams are done. Gum and mints to chew also help.
#6 Arrive early.
Arriving late only increases your stress level. Make sure you know where your exam center is located the day before and use apps like Google Maps or Waze to estimate the time of arrival, and also check on traffic conditions in your area. Even if it only takes you 15 minutes to get to the exam location, leave an hour ahead of time so you can avoid any unforeseen traffic conditions. Arriving earlier lets you look for the exam room, read your exam particulars, and just calm your nerves before you begin the exam.
Your ECBA exam should be taken seriously, especially with all the effort you put in to study and prepare for it. Preparing yourself before the exam, the day before the exam, and on the day of the exam is essential as it all leads toward success, and it also prevents you from falling short of your full capacity. Once you pass on your first attempt, this certification will open you up to more career success in the future. More importantly, this will give you the confidence to pursue more challenging projects, while motivating you to strive to become a better Business Analyst in your field.