10 Tips for Passing the PMI-PBA Certification Exam

The PMI Professional in Business Analysis certification was introduced in early 2014 by the Project Management Institute (PMI). Priding ourselves on helping real-world professionals develop their careers through training and certification, we have sent several of our instructors through the application and pilot PMI-PBA Certification exam process. What follows is a collection of ten tips from their personal experience.

Our hope is that these tips will help guide you in your preparation before the PMI-PBA certification exam as there is a lot of material to cover. Please understand that the exam is a pilot at the time of this article, so it most certainly will change, evolve and improve.

In general, all PMI Professional in Business Analysis candidates need to constantly keep in mind that this exam was developed by PMI (The Project Management Institute).  In other words, the exam is going to approach business analysis from a project management perspective.  Inputs, definitions, terminology, tools and outputs will, as much as possible, track to The Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (the PMBOK).


  1. Tracking and updating requirement status using traceability
    Study both the “Plan Scope Management” and “Collect Requirements” processes in the PMBOK, especially as they relate to the Requirements Management Plan and the Requirements Traceability Matrix.  Any reference to traceability in the reading list should be reviewed.  Rationale should be per the reading list; terminology per the PMBOK.

  2. Acceptance Criteria
    “Validate Scope” should be reviewed for user acceptance test information in the PMBOK.  These references: The Software Requirements Memory Jogger and the Business Analysis Techniques: 72 Essential Tools For Success both contain the most information related to acceptance criteria.  Search the reading list for other references to user acceptance as this topic is heavily stressed on the exam.

  3. Monitoring requirements and managing changes to requirement
    This is another heavily stressed area.  Specifically target those areas in the readings where change management is discussed.  Look at the Integration Management knowledge area of the PMBOK.

  4. Validating test results
    Despite the fact that most BAs do not consider testing to be one of their primary responsibilities, there are a number of questions concerning testing on the exam.  The PMBOK is light in this area.  As with many other exam topics, a deep dive in this area is not necessary.  Familiarize yourself with a high to intermediate-level view of testing.

  5. Using quality assurance tools to analyze solution discrepancies
    Many of the quality planning/quality assurance/quality control tools are on the exam.  Know especially the figures, charts, and graphs from the Project Quality Management knowledge area, specifically the seven basic quality tools.

  6. Prioritization techniques
    Spend some time familiarizing yourself with the names and purposes of the BA tools presented in the Business Analysis Techniques: 72 Essential Tools For Success. You do not need to know (at present) how to use them, only recognize them as appropriate or inappropriate when provided a project scenario.  Be sure to know MoSCoW and Kano.

  7. Evaluating how well the solution meets the business case
    The Business Case is an important aspect of the exam.  Read the first sections of the PMBOK to understand how the business case figures into the project selection methodology.  Also familiarize yourself with the “Develop Project Charter” process.  Search through the reading list for other discussions regarding the business case.

  8. Identifying and analyzing stakeholders
    Just about any BA reference book will have a large discussion of the tasks necessary to identify and analyze project stakeholders.  Make sure you are using the PMBOK’s terminology, but choose a couple of the reading list books to give yourself a complete understanding of the subject, especially Software Requirements 2, The Software Requirements Memory Jogger, and Unearthing Business Requirements: Elicitation Tools and Techniques.

  9. Validating requirements with tools and techniques
    Elements of validation to study include establishing the level of traceability necessary for requirements validation during the Planning process.  Prototyping, document analysis, and demos are important requirement validation tools and techniques to review in order to ensure requirements completeness, as well as requirements alignment with the project goal, objectives, and business case.

  10. Decision-making techniques
    There is not a section of the PMBOK that covers this area.  Rather, it is spread out here and there throughout the standard.  Specifically look at the various forms of decision making tools (unanimity, plurality, etc.) and check the reading list indexes for decision-making references.  The exam does not probe much deeper than the identification of techniques and, perhaps, the pros and cons of each technique.