How to obtain IIBA CBAP Certification

in Business Analysis, Business Analysis, Courses

CBAP® (Certified Business Analysis Professional) certification was launched at the end of 2006 to select, test and certify qualified and competent business analysts. For those dedicated to the field of business analysis, CBAP from IIBA® (International Institute of Business Analysis) is the highest recognition of our profession, just as PMP® is for Project Management.

Many people who meet the eligibility criteria are considering or aspiring to certification, but haven’t yet taken the plunge. Many believe that the CBAP application process, and the exam itself, is a real challenge. This perception is indeed well-founded. Nevertheless, the candidates manage to overcome these obstacles with success! This article provides a brief overview of the CBAP program and details how business analysts can develop a seamless strategy to achieve certification. It focuses on the essential steps of this strategy, complemented by a wealth of tips to guide you effectively towards certification.

Assess the problem

Step 1: Get and Browse the BABOK in English

The BABOK is an essential reference for knowledge and practices unanimously recognized in the field of business analysis. The CBAP certification exam is largely based on the contents of this guide, making it essential reading for candidates. IIBA members can download it free of charge from the Institute’s official website. For those preparing for the IIBA exams with our course offering, Smart Gecko offers a printed edition of the BABOK. An option often preferred for the advantages it offers, such as ease of annotation and a tactile aspect that encourages learning. Version 3.0 of BABOK has been in use for almost ten years, and represents a sound investment. This guide is a resource for mastering widely accepted business analysis practices.

As a first step, we encourage you to go through the BABOK in its entirety, to fully grasp its scope and acclimatize to its specific vocabulary, structure and degree of precision.

It’s time to make a crucial decision: are you ready to devote the necessary effort to assimilating this knowledge in depth, and do you have an adequate level of English to cope with a 120-question exam in three and a half hours?

If the answer is no, you still have other options:

If you’ve been captivated by certain aspects and would like to deepen your understanding of them, particularly the 50 techniques presented, our Business Analysis methods and tools training course can extend your skills.

If your level of English is considered insufficient(CEFR B1+/B2), don’t underestimate yourself without testing your comprehension with sample questions. In addition, the ECBA exam is a possible alternative, as it is offered in French.


Step 2: Make your plan

To assess the most effective way to master BABOK content in preparation for the CBAP exam, consider the following options:


This approach allows you to study BABOK at your own pace. It’s ideal if you’re self-disciplined and have a solid grounding in BABOK concepts.

Study Group

Set up by IIBA chapters, BABOK study groups offer collaborative learning. Each member focuses individually on specific chapters and then, as a group, you explore your questions and put processes and tasks into practice through a fictitious project. Commitment to the group and regular meetings provide a structured framework for moving towards your goal.

Vocational training

Our masterclasses are designed to cover the content of the BABOK in small groups over several days. These sessions clarify complex passages of the BABOK, recontextualize them for the exam to identify key points likely to be questioned, and offer a host of quizzes and an exam simulator. With the instructor’s personalized coaching, you benefit from an accelerated and simplified path to understanding the BABOK and passing the CBAP exam.

This selection among three learning methods opens the way to optimal temporal organization.

As far as self-study is concerned, we advise you to adopt a consistent BABOK routine: set aside 45 minutes every weekday and double that at weekends to establish a regular practice.

As for study groups, the schedule is set by the program. Group meetings are held one evening every two weeks. We recommend devoting at least two evenings or weekend slots to group preparation and individual time to reading the current chapter of the BABOK.

Training dates are determined by the session calendar. Our training offer is divided into three two-day sessions, with a longer interval after the first two days to allow you to assimilate the BABOK content. Subsequent sessions take place over a ten-day period.

For each of these options, it’s essential to set aside extra time specifically for exam preparation, a subject we’ll cover in greater detail later.

Take action - one person takes the plunge and embarks on apprenticeship for CBAP

Take action

Step 3: Execute your plan

During this phase, it’s common to experience “terminology shock”, where many of the terms used and practices presented in the BABOK differ from those usually employed in your personal business analysis context. It is important to recognize that the review will focus exclusively on the interpretation of the BABOK business analysis. During this period, you’ll need to put aside any cognitive conflicts and accept that the review is not about how you practice, but rather about the consensus established by an editorial board drawn from a variety of professional backgrounds and horizons.

Step 4: Apply for the exam

Before scheduling your CBAP exam, you must submit your application and obtain IIBA approval. The application process is strict and aimed at business analysts with intermediate to advanced experience.

For CBAP certification, visit to start your application process. This page will provide you with links to the online application form and other relevant resources. We recommend that you download and consult the handbook available on this page to familiarize yourself with the various stages of the process.


Start your online application by first completing the CBAP reference section. It’s imperative to include two references who can confirm your skills and knowledge of business analysis. These references may be supervisors, colleagues, customers, or other CBAP holders.

These references will be systematically asked to fill in a form and return it electronically to the IIBA. Please note that your application will remain incomplete until these reference forms are returned. It’s a good idea to start with this approach.

Personal information

Fill in the sections dedicated to your personal information and educational background. These steps should pose no difficulty. You must have at least a high school diploma and be able to provide proof of this in the form of a transcript.

Professional experience

The section on professional experience requires particular attention. It’s a good idea to prepare an Excel file of your projects in advance, to facilitate entry into the online form and avoid data loss in the event of a session interruption. Don’t hesitate to ask us for a suitable model.

For each position held, you will be asked to detail your responsibilities, the context of your missions, and the number of hours worked, broken down according to the BABOK knowledge areas. A minimum hourly distribution is required for your application to be validated. You’ll find the details on our CBAP certification website.

In addition, proof of 35 hours of vocational training in direct contact with a trainer is required to sit the exam. Smart Gecko Academy, as an IIBA-approved training provider, ensures that all the training hours offered are eligible for exam registration. It should be noted that the IIBA may readjust the number of recognized training hours if the content is deemed not to comply with BABOK standards.

To complete this formal step, you will be asked to adhere to the IIBA Code of Conduct during the application process.


This phase ends with the payment of a non-refundable processing fee of 125 USD. Examination fees, to be paid separately, apply once your application has been validated. Your application is usually accepted within a few days of submission. However, if the IIBA deems it necessary to examine your application in greater depth, the process could extend over a longer period.

Step 5: Practice with exam questions

While some people can simply read the BABOK and then pass the exam, the majority need additional means to fully integrate the BABOK’s essential concepts. In fact, a complete study plan should include thorough training to answer the exam questions correctly.

Using practice questions is an effective preparation strategy. This helps to identify areas requiring particular attention, to familiarize oneself with the multiple-choice question format, and to check whether the time allowed for the exam is adequate or whether it is necessary to increase the speed of response.

We also offer an exam simulator that provides a variety of training methods. It includes the case studies needed to prepare you for this sequence in the CBAP exam. As part of our training courses, we also recommend other complementary resources to maximize your preparation.

Step 6: Taking and passing the exam

On the big day, make sure you approach the exam in a calm frame of mind. Start with an energizing meal, whether breakfast or lunch, to maintain your energy levels throughout the event. Stay hydrated in a balanced way, avoiding excess. Please note that, unlike the online session, access to the toilets is possible if you take the exam in a center.

It is forbidden to bring with you any aids that might facilitate your answers to the exam questions.

The exam is divided into four categories of questions:

  • Definitions (example: “a model that illustrates domain information is…”)
  • Sequences (example: “what is the first action to take when…”)
  • Lists of Lists (example: “which element in these lists contains the correct attributes?”)
  • Synthesis (e.g.: “Faced with this situation, what would your analysis be?”)

With 120 multiple-choice questions, the exam offers a range of difficulties, from the very difficult to the simpler, but the majority require sustained attention. You will also be confronted with detailed case studies, requiring in-depth analysis followed by a series of case-related questions.

CBAP certification is a prestigious distinction offered by IIBA, designed to recognize the skills of business analysts. Although the road to this certification may seem arduous, with the right strategies and preparation, candidates can succeed. This six-step plan will help you prepare effectively for the CBAP exam:

  • familiarize yourself with the BABOK,
  • plan its study,
  • implement your study plan,
  • apply for the exam,
  • practice exam questions,
  • and finally pass the exam.

Each step is designed to overcome the challenges posed by the specific terminology of the BABOK® and the rigorous requirements of the exam, giving candidates the tools they need to maximize their chances of success.

A solution for you

To optimize your chances of success on the CBAP exam and deepen your mastery of BABOK, we invite you to explore our training courses dedicated to CBAP certification. Our program is designed to guide you through each stage of the certification process, focusing on key knowledge and effective examination techniques. Discover how our personalized teaching approach and complementary resources can transform your path to CBAP. Start your path to professional recognition as a certified business analyst.

    Smart Gecko AG

    +41 22 570 09 31 (fr)
    +41 55 505 27 60 (de/en)