In this article, I am trying to help those who are looking to pass the TOGAF 9.1 Certification examination, by providing my insights into how I prepared for it and passed it in the first attempt.
Recently, I cleared TOGAF 9.1 Certification exam which was a combined part-1 and part-2 examination, after postponing it two times out of fear of failing. But I passed it at the first try after thorough preparation, and I am so happy about it. I thought why not help someone who wants to pass the TOGAF 9.1 Examination because it requires disciplined preparation and focus on some key areas.
There’s a saying in my mother tongue, which means – There Is No Alternative To Hard Work.
So, let me put first things first. This article does not provide any shortcuts or alternatives to preparation. I am only trying to share the way which worked for me, and possibly may work for you too. There is no link to any dumps or questions which you can expect in the real exam as it is.
Moreover, TOGAF is a wide area and you must keep yourself abreast of the architecture domain from time to time, even after you pass the exam. But no matter how much knowledge you gain, passing an exam requires you to follow some methodology in preparation, otherwise you are bound to fail.
Before appearing for the exam, it is advisable that you have undergone The Open Group approved training for TOGAF 9.1 either in class room or online.
How much preparation time is needed?
I prepared for this exam for around 2 months, 1.5 months intermittently and totally focusing on it for nearly 3 weeks. I spent 2-3 hours on weekdays and 5-6 hours on weekends on an average, during this period. But as I moved on and off during the first 1.5 months’ preparation, you can consider one will need 4 to 5 weeks of time (at least) for this exam preparation, if you are not diverting yourself in-between. Believe me, I did not get enough confidence to appear for the TOGAF exam till I prepared for this much time.
How one should distribute preparation time?
Out of, let’s say, 4 weeks, spend the first 2 weeks in gaining knowledge about TOGAF (this is on top of what you may have learned during your TOGAF training). You can refer to a section below which describes some text and video material which I found useful. Try to identify the areas which are giving you a hard time to digest so that you can revisit those later. Also, try to identify key terms and their explanations and make your own notes, which can work as your cheat sheet or cram book which will be handy as the exam date comes near.
The third week should be divided in two equal parts. In the first half of the third week, try to appear for mock exams (both part-1 and part-2) for which I have provided some links below. This will give you an idea of your strengths and weaknesses. Identify the areas in which you are poor and target those in second half of the third week. This way you will have finished a complete cycle of gaining knowledge and utilizing it (as far as exam is concerned).
Now, comes the last and final week, which is the most important for TOGAF exam and which will decide your success or failure in the exam. Concentrate this week only and only on exam questions and answers, by repeatedly giving mock exams thru some online sources I mention below. Also, once you see these mock exam results, try to understand the reason why your answer was correct or incorrect. This will give you significant insight into the questions patterns and how answers are formatted.
For all the mock exams in which I appeared, I maintained a list of questions with correct answers which I referred to in the last 24 hours before the exam.
How is the TOGAF exam pattern?
I appeared for the part-1 and part-2 combined exam, which is nearly 2:45 hours long. Both exams are multiple choice MCQ types, so you must identify the “best” answer. And here is where many people find it difficult.
The answers are formatted in such a way that you will find each answer like the other. There are a few hints which identify the best answer by using some specific key words related to the question. Extensively refer to mock exam questions and answers to find out which type of questions are asked in actual exam.
What one should do while appearing for the exam?
You will be given a sheet of paper and pen in the examination center. That is the only material you can take with you in the exam room. First and foremost, draw the ADM diagram (the crop circle diagram) on that sheet, write down names of all phases, and some brief description of what is done in that phase. You will see nearly 12 questions in the part-1 exam out of the total 40 questions which are related to the ADM.
Now, target all questions one by one, spending a minute on each. If you are not sure of the answer, then mark it for review so that you can come back later. Finish the first round of 40 questions speedily, then go to the questions which you did not answer and marked for review. This strategy will help you in the way that you spend less time on the questions you know, leaving for you more time to target those questions which you do not know.
Once you finish all questions marked for review, then have another cycle of all questions one more time to identify any mistakes. Do not be too tempted to change answer of each question. Trust your instinct.
You should not make a full cycle of all the questions more than twice. This will create confusion in your mind.
Which material should one refer to?
Not alone, the TOGAF 9.1 official book is available here. It’s a big eBook of some 690 pages and it is difficult to “digest”. However, this being the official book for TOGAF, you must refer to it not once but many times as an Enterprise Architect, but for the exam, a quick bird’s eye view may be enough. I did not read each and every word of it while preparing for exam.
The book more targeted for the exam is the TOGAF 9 Study Guide by Rachel Harrison which is available on The Open Group website as a study pack here for $60. If you fear failing in exam, which will cost you some $350 for appearing in next one, spending $60 seems a wise deal.
There are many free eBooks available on The Open Group website here, which you can have a look at to clear some TOGAF terminology.
I found the following eBooks very useful:
- N112 TOGAF 9.1 ADM Steps Reference
- N113 ADM The Architecture Development Method
- N111 TOGAF 9.1 Architecture Development Cycle
- N114 TOGAF 9.1 Metamodel Reference
- G164 The TOGAF® Technical Reference Model
Apart from this, I referred to the training material given to me by the official TOGAF training provider which I cannot disclose here.
I watched some videos on you tube which were OK and will help you at initial stage of preparation:
- TOGAF Distilled – quick and easy introduction, good representation
- Knotion TOGAF – you may feel sleepy, somewhat difficult to digest
Where can one find mock exams?
There are many sources.
The Open Group sells practice exams here and here. At the price of $1 each, it’s a good deal and you should purchase it. If you purchase the study guide mentioned above for $60, then there two are already parts to it and you do not need to purchase it separately. But the questions are easy in these 2 banks, the actual exam has much more difficult questions. You should first target this question bank.
This techbolo website has good and many questions – tougher than the above Open Group practice exams. This should be your second target. You can google for more TOGAF exams but I think you will not have much time for more mock exams in your last week of preparation.
That’s all I had to share. Best of luck for your TOGAF exam and Happy Learning!