There are many reasons why becoming certified in TOGAF makes sense. The two most important ones are probably 1) to get or improve the skills that are needed in an (enterprise) architecture role and 2) to benefit from the positive signaling effect that a certification has on potential employers or customers. In this post, I will provide an overview of the certification exams, a concrete study plan, an overview of all material you need, and what it takes to clear the levels.
How Does the Exam Look Like?
There are two levels that you can take: Level 1 “foundation” and level 2 “certified”. According to TOGAF, most people do both levels and I also strongly recommend this, as I personally perceive level 2 to be much easier. The levels can be either taken separately or as “combined” exam. If you are not yet certified in any previous TOGAF version or level, I also recommend taking the combined exam. All options are described here by TOGAF.
Level 1 consists of 40 multiple-choice questions from which one is correct and there are no negative points for wrong answers. The passing grade is 55%, which translates to 22 correct answers. You have 60 minutes for this part. Level 1 questions would typically require to know specific lists, overviews, illustrations, or terms from the TOGAF standard. Passing is very much based on learning by heart and doing many realistic test questions upfront.
Level 2 consists of 8 complex multiple choice answers, from which the best answer gives you 5 points, the second best gives you 3 points, the third best answer gives you 1 point, and the worst answer gives 0 points. For this part, you need at least 60% to pass, which are 24 out of 40 points and you have 90 minutes for this part. Level 2 questions are very different from level 1 questions. A typical question is half a page long and has answers that fill another half a page or more with text. Most of the content is just there to distract you. Typically, it should be enough to just apply common sense to the questions and choose the answer that sounds most sophisticated. If you have practical experience with enterprise architecture projects, you should not have any problems in passing – even without studying explicitly for level 2! To ensure that you pass, I will provide some additional tips on level 2 in my next post.
How Should I Study?
The first question that you should answer is: How many hours per day can I study? I decided to take the exam at the end of my holidays, so I planned for about 8 hours per day for 7 days, which makes a total of 56 hours study time. If you have 2 hours from Monday to Friday and then 4 hours on Saturday and Sunday (i.e. 18 hours per week), you might therefore need about 3-4 weeks before you should attempt the exam.
I recommend three phases for your study plan:
1) Get familiar with the TOGAF study guide or other summarizing material that you think is useful. I do not recommend to go through the full TOGAF Standard (600 pages plus) at this point in time. The study guide is sold by TOGAF for 59.90$, but I found it quite useful as the content is well summarized to about 300 pages. In addition, it includes some first-hand test questions for both levels. If you take a TOGAF training course, these documents might also be included in the price. When you read through the content, do one or two test exams, for example on this website to get a feeling for the level of detail that is required. Afterwards, read again through your study material.
2) In the second phase, you should go through all possible test questions that you can find on the Internet. However, you should also sense whether the questions are realistic or not. There are some websites that state to provide real test questions, but their questions are actually too difficult. I found this website extremely helpful when going through phase 2.
3) In phase 3, you should do all real test exams that you have available. You can get those from sources such as:
- TOGAF Study Pack
- Simply Learn
- Test Questions purchased from TOGAF website (the packs cost 0.99$ and are quite worth the price)
The most important in this phase is the analysis of your test results. Therefore, go through every wrong answer in detail. Write down the topic and look up the chapter in the detailed TOGAF standard. This is necessary, because the Study Guide answers 80-90% of all questions, but some questions can indeed not be answered with the information provided in the study summary. I made “cheat sheets” for every topic that I still got wrong at this point in time. I you feel confident with 90% of the questions behind the links in this article, you are more than prepared for passing the exam.
Should I Take a TOGAF Training Course?
Whether or not to purchase study materials depends on whether you take a training course. Whether or not to take a training course should depend on your personal preference of studying (How good are you at self-studying?) and your previous experiences with TOGAF. If you are new to the world of TOGAF, you are bad at motivating yourself, or if you just feel that you need a kick-start to your studies, you should take a TOGAF training course. If you do so, be sure that you are sponsored by your organization as course fees roughly amount to 2,000$ +/- 300$ for a 4-days training.
Summarizing the Most Useful Content…
Summarizing the links from above, let me provide the top-five websites and documents that will enable you to pass the exam if you go through their content:
1. A large amount of good test questions
2. A set of test exams for both levels (I find them a bit harder than the single test questions)
3. Additional test exam
4. Official test question pack to be purchased from TOGAF website (0.99$)
5. TOGAF Study Guide (59.99$)
Hope that this is of interest for many readers around here and I am more than happy to answer more questions!
10 Tips to Pass the TOGAF Exams July 14, 2018
How to Study?
1. Make a clear study plan. This includes an understanding of your available time for studying, whether or not to register for a course, the content you want to go through, as well as a fixed date to take the exam. If you do not register for a fixed date, you are likely to postpone the exam.
2. Of course, you should study the TOGAF content in detail and also do test exams. However, if I had to choose, I would rather focus a bit more on doing actual test questions, instead of reading once more through the content of the guides.
3. For level 1, study the content and test your knowledge with the test questions. For level 2, study by understanding how to answer the test questions. It is not needed to study any additional content for level 2 except how to understand and answer the exam questions.
4. Level 2 is an open book exam, which means that you will get access to a PDF version of the TOGAF standard. Make therefore sure that you know roughly where to find what in the PDF and which key words to search for in the PDF (search function is enabled). The computer of the test center might be a bit older and the PDF might not work smoothly. Therefore you should be prepared to limit the key words that you need to search for.
5. Make sure that you answer all test questions behind the links provided in my last post. All together, they cover already a large portion of all topics and if you study “around” these questions, you are good to go. After all, the passing grade is just 55% / 60%.
6. There are particular questions that you should know by heart, e.g. the phases of the ADM including their activities and outcomes (e.g. when is the topic of migration plan first touched and when is a draft finalized during the ADM?) differences between terms (e.g. consistent and compliant), TOGAF definitions (What is an enterprise, what is a content framework...) etc.
During the Exam…
7. Regularly check your available time. You have the possibility to mark questions that you are not sure of so you can later go back and check. Therefore, answer all questions that you are sure of first and later do the harder ones. I found the time for level 1 more than enough (60 minutes), while I had to time myself during level 2 (90 minutes), which was actually surprising to me.
8. This tip is valid for level 1 as well, but it is particularly meant for level 2: Eliminate the wrong answers if you cannot directly identify the correct answer. In level 2, eliminating the wrong answer will leave you with 3 more answers that give you 5, 3, or 1 point; i.e. on average 3 points! As there are 8 questions and you need 24 points to pass, you would already be expected to pass by just identifying 100% of the worst answers. The worst answers are often the ones that are very different from the other three answers…
9. Make sure to read every question twice and do not just answer and proceed to the next question – especially if you are not a native English speaker. You might overlook a word that changed the meaning and hence the correct answer. In the end, there is enough time to read everything meticulously. Before registering to the exam, there is even the possibility for non-native speakers to register for a special exam that will give you some extra time – to compensate for not being a native speaker in English! Apart from English, the exam can also be taken in Chinese.
10. Stay concentrated and do not get nervous. The worst case would be if you need to pay the exam fee once more – which is quite some money. However, if you studied according to my plan provided and especially if you managed to pass your test tests with confidence, you will also pass the real exam. If you aim for achieving 80-90% during your studies, you can be sure to achieve at least the required passing grade of 55%/ 60% on your test day.