What is TOGAF certification? Why you need it?
TOGAF is internationally recognized standard Architecture Framework for creating Enterprise Architectures for industries. Since I got TOGAF 9.2 certified an year+ ago, I thought of sharing few important tips (instructions & guidelines) with professionals who are dreaming of becoming TOGAF certified enterprise architect.! TOGAF certification has lot of benefits for an IT Architect in his/her career. Read below to know about core benefits.
Benefits of becoming TOGAF certified Architect
- For developing enterprise architectures in professional way which is accepted by industries, it defines a method containing 10 phases on how to do it systematically.
- It defines a common vocabulary that architects can use while discussing about complex scenarios with other architects & also with stakeholders in an organization.
- It guides you to generate enterprise level artifacts during Architecture development project, and also to categorize and store them in systematic way which is accessible by every stakeholder in an organization. Having a process of which artifact to generate, in what format (TOGAF standard format which is highly customizable as per industry needs) and storing it in a standard fashion takes out the headache of having to search it all over. Even if a new architect joins the organization or team, he/she would fairly have an idea which document to look for when he has questions in mind or someone else asks him/her.
- You can educate customer’s IT team to manage IT infrastructure and IT solutions in a professional and industry standard way.
- Since TOGAF is internationally recognized Standard Architecture Framework, you will have less or no difficulty in doing architecture work in new projects in your own organization or in new organization.
- For organizations, having TOGAF certified practitioners/architects will certainly help them to establish & claim in their architectural capabilities.
Now let us focus on how to get TOGAF certified. First let me begin with some of the essential information about TOGAF exams.
TOGAF Certification Levels
It contains 2 levels like below:
- TOGAF Foundation
- TOGAF Certified
To get TOGAF Foundation level, one would need to pass TOGAF Foundation exam. There is no pre-requisites to take this exam.
To get TOGAF Certified level, one would need to pass both TOGAF Foundation and TOGAF Certified level exams. It is possible to take a combined exam to get TOGAF Certified within a day, which is actually a better way (which I followed). Reasons are explained later in this blog.
About TOGAF Foundation Level Exam (Part #1 Exam)
- TOGAF Foundation Level exam contains 40 multiple choice questions. The total time for this exam is 60 minutes. It is a closed book exam. To pass this exam, you would need to answer 22 questions correctly out of 40 questions (i.e., pass percentage is 55%).
- Each of these 40 questions have only one correct answer. There will not be any question with more than one correct answers.
- All these questions are direct, and taken out from the TOGAF Specification. So, if you have read the TOGAF specification properly, you will not have any difficulty in answering them correctly.
- This exam is all about memorizing TOGAF steps and concepts, but nothing else!
About TOGAF Certified Level Exam (Part #2 Exam)
- TOGAF Certified Level exam contains 8 questions with complex scenarios. The total time for this exam is 90 minutes. Note that this is an open book exam. The TOGAF book is embedded inside the exam software itself and hence it is allowed to refer it during the exam (you are not allowed to carry any books or view TOGAF book through internet during examination). To pass this exam, you would need 60%, means you need 24 marks to pass.
- These are also multiple choice type questions. However, unlike Foundation exam, this has 3 correct answers and 1 wrong answer. The Best Correct answer is given 5 marks, the second best is given 3 marks, the third best is given 1 mark and the wrong answer (called “Distractor”) is given zero mark.
- If we do a quick calculation, 5 best answers are enough to pass the exam. It is also possible to pass the exam with all second best answers (8 questions * 3 marks for second best = 24 marks), however it is a risky zone, and it is difficult to identify the second best from the third best.
- These scenario based questions would test the applied knowledge of TOGAF specification, and hence the questions are not direct. Sometimes, it would require the understanding of multiple Parts of the TOGAF to provide a suitable answer to a question. This is a tougher exam, in my opinion. Hence needs more practice (of sample exam papers) and repeated study of TOGAF specification.
Exam preparation steps / tips...
Step 1: Create an account in Open Group website, as it is essential to get downloadable materials, book an exam etc. Open Group Website Link
Step 2: Book the exam. Unless there is a goal by booking exam, getting certified will remain a dream. Having the exams already booked is enough motivation to study. You can book just Part 1 exam, and do the Part 2 later. However I suggest you to do both at a time by taking combined exam. Reason is, you are going to study the same TOGAF specification for both the exams and the syllabus overlaps. You can register for the exam using link Take an Examination. This will take you to Pearson VUE web site for scheduling the exam, where you can choose nearest Pearson VUE examination center.
Important Note: The examination fees when I was writing was; Part 1 exam: $320+GST, Part 2 exam: $320+GST, Combined Part 1 & Part 2 Exams (both together in single shot): $495+GST. If you notice, Combined Part & Part 2 works out cheaper if you are paying it from your pocket. This was one of reason why I took combined exam.
Step 3: Download examination study materials from Open Group Website, as that is the most reliable and latest resource for you. Some of the most important resources are…
- Find latest TOGAF Specification here TOGAF 9.2 Standard (Note: This is a licensed resource, and we can use it for free for 90 days of download)
- Find syllabus here TOGAF Syllabus for both Exams
- TOGAF Self-Study Pack. This material had costed me about $60. Hopefully it is same now also. This material contains highlights about both part 1 & 2 which is good to read during revision. However you must consider to read main TOGAF specification mentioned above. This study material will contain one set of practice exam papers to give you glimpse of exam. But I suggest you to look for online exam practice papers (or dumps) which is a “must” step of exam preparation.
Study duration needed...
- For TOGAF Part 1 and Part 2 combined, a preparation of at least 3 months with 12 full weekends is needed to crack the exam. Initially it will take some time to grasp the concepts of TOGAF, so it is not possible to complete the study in one or two weekends.
- TOGAF Specification is heavily generalized and hence difficult to understand in first round study. Hence it requires reading each section several times to begin understanding what they mean. The vocabulary is difficult to understand at the beginning and as you read through it multiple times you would figure out what they mean. We humans have cognitive intelligence, so even if we do not understand anything at first, with enough repetitions we can figure out what it means. Therefore; repetition is the key here, and that is why I say we need a lot of time to study & understand TOGAF concepts.
Where and how to begin...
Preparing for Foundation Level (Part #1 Exam)
We have got the study materials, and we know that it is slightly a tough nut to crack, so what should be your approach and where/how to begin? First let us focus on Foundation level (part 1 exam). As we understand the concepts better, we can start exploring more into Certified level (part 2 exam). Below is the split-up of Foundation level exam questions:
- Basic Concepts — 3 questions
- Core Concepts — 3 questions
- Introduction to the ADM — 3 questions
- ADM Phases — 9 questions
- ADM Guidelines and Techniques — 6 questions
- ADM Deliverables — 2 questions
- The Enterprise Continuum and Tools — 4 questions
- Architecture Governance — 4 questions
- Architecture Views, Viewpoints, and Stakeholders — 2 questions
- Building Blocks — 2 questions
- TOGAF Reference Models — 2 questions
As you can see above; 1) Introduction to ADM, 2) ADM Phases, 3) ADM Guidelines and Techniques 4) ADM Deliverables — ADM itself already covers 21 questions out of 40. So ADM is the most important area to focus during Part 1 study.
Please note that it is important to memorize the Table of Contents of TOGAF specification. This is because; it is necessary to know which chapter falls under which part of TOGAF. There are seven parts of TOGAF and I noticed some questions testing the knowledge on how TOGAF specification is organized. This knowledge will also be very useful when attempting questions for Certified level (part 2) Open book exam, where you must know by heart which chapter to look in the embedded book quickly during part 2 exam.
ADM (Architecture Development Method) contains 10 phases. Following is important to know in the ADM:
- Objectives of each Phase
- Input and Output of each Phase
- Steps that are followed in each Phase
- Understand the Deliverables for each phase
I would suggest to use Mind Maps technique to map Steps / Deliverables to each phase and remember it correctly.
There are a few guidelines & techniques that are used during ADM cycles, such as Gap Analysis, Architecture Principles, Stakeholder Management etc., These are mentioned in the ADM Phases (Part 2 of TOGAF), but not explained. These are explained separately in “ADM Guidelines and Techniques”. We should study the ADM Guidelines & Techniques and map that understanding back to ADM Phases. For this reason, I would recommend the study of ADM Phases, ADM Guidelines and Techniques at least 2–3 times in full.
You can expect questions like “In which phase is performed” or “Which phase generates the ” with four different phase names as choices. While the book provides description about the different phases, you need to know what is done in which phase, i.e. we should be ready to expect questions to test our understanding in the reverse order by giving the step / deliverable, and asking for the Phase name.
Expect questions that tests the areas which might confuse you too much.! For example, there are some overlaps between Phase E: Opportunities and Solutions, and Phase F: Migration Planning (Example: Roadmap components are identified and grouped in Phase E, while they are prioritized for implementation in Phase F).
In TOGAF specification, go to Architecture Deliverables chapter. This chapter contains a table mentioning which deliverable is coming out of which phase. Moreover, each deliverable is explained in this chapter. This knowledge also should be applied back to ADM Phases.
I have mentioned the above cases as just examples, and keep connecting each information from different portions of TOGAF to each other. That is how you can get the grasp of TOGAF concepts.
If you have studied for the complete syllabus of Foundation level (part 1), and understood the concepts well, start practicing the mock questions. There are several online resources for this. No need to purchase anything. Enough to practice the free resources available online This will certainly give you an idea of how the questions would be in exam.
Preparing for Certified Level (Part #2 Exam)
There is a separate syllabus for Certified level, but there are several overlaps. Understanding of all the previous concepts such as ADM, Enterprise Continuum are mandatory for preparing for this level. Here in this level, some of the areas that are not covered as part of Foundation Level need to be studied. However, it need not be memorized, as there won’t be any questions testing the memory.
Though it is an Open book exam, i would recommend to study the concepts well, and attempt the questions like a Closed book. Try not to rely on the Open book part, as it wastes your time in searching for content. Remember there will be no search option in book, as well as it navigates pages one-by-one slowly depending on internet bandwidth in exam center.
Here in this level, the understanding from different areas will be tested. A scenario is given, and they would ask you how you would handle the situation if you are an architect. This assumes the understanding of different parts like Security Architecture, Risk Management, ADM Iterations etc.
Before the exam...
- Spend last one or two weekends in just revising what you studied. I would suggest to keep the notes you prepared (along with rough diagrams) as handy and use that as the primary source, and use TOGAF specification as reference during this time.
- For the exam, ensure that you take all the necessary stuffs like your identity card, address proofs, print out of the appointment etc. Be present in the exam center 30 minutes before the appointment.
- Pearson VUE center would give the writing pad and pen usually. But still as a professional, keep a notepad and pen always with you in your bag, not just for the exam, but always.
During the exam...
- If you take the Combined exam, then the Foundation and Certified level tests gets loaded one after the other. The remaining time is shown in the test window. It is possible to go back and forth between the questions. Please read the instructions explaining the usage of the software before starting the exam.
- For Foundation Level Exam, just answer the questions one after the other. Mark the questions that are doubtful for later revisit. Once you have completed all 40 questions, you can come back to the questions that are doubtful. Usually there is a high possibility that the answer that we first selected is correct, so do not change the answer unless there is a very good reason to do so.
- For Certified Level Exam, it takes time to read the questions. Each line is important, and gives some valuable information. Keep noting down such useful information ignoring the non-essentials. To complete this exam in the stipulated 90 minutes, we must attempt each question in 10 minutes. I would say that is still difficult, because we need to read through the scenario and note down important points, and read through each answer while noting down the points from each answer, then evaluating which is the best answer.
- One more point regarding the Certified level questions: The answer must be in line with what TOGAF suggests. It may be completely opposite from our previous beliefs or even from our experience we would have done it entirely different. If in doubt we can refer the TOGAF specification during the exam. But since the time is very important, try to understand each part of the TOGAF just before the exam. Moreover as mentioned earlier, know the Parts and Chapters of TOGAF well, so if in case you need to refer, you know which chapter to go, without wasting time.
Important Note: TOGAF is a difficult exam to clear (particularly Part 2), but giving enough time for study and with consistent daily efforts, the certification can be achieved. Once certified, it will definitely give you an edge which no other programming certification can give.!!!
Good online course: I found Part #1 & 2 courses on Udemy by Scott Duffy as a good start for exam preparation, however these courses are like “crash course” and hence thorough study of TOGAF specification document is a “must” to crack the exams.