TOGAF 9 Exam Preparation

This morning, I was able to pass TOGAF 9 L1 and L2 exam and I think it would be wise to jot down my experience just in case if it helps other aspiring doers. No, this post will not contain any kind of brain dumps, but more of an approach that I took to prepare for this certification blended with the things-I-wish-I-knew-before attempting.

The need.

I have been doing architectural assignments and activities since quite some time but it was not structured. I always had this feeling of there-is-something-missing when I was doing those tasks. I was rolling out innovative technical solutions but without any shape and structure to it. If you are in this position too, you might have come across a question - what is it that architects really do and that I do not? The answer is documentation. Moreover, there is a thought process - apart from technical one - that matters and differs. TOGAF is the answer to this solution.

The Open Group Architecture Framework, is a vast domain of architecture which is not technology/industry specific. During the process of understanding the framework, I have observed a good shift in my thought processes. In my day to day life, my technical responses are more structured, better articulated with appropriate supporting deliverables. But the great part is, it will but exponentially beneficial in the long run in Enterprise landscape.

Certification.

To be TOGAF 9 Certified, you need to clear 2 levels of exams.

  1. Level 1 - Foundation - Covers the overall knowledge of Enterprise Architecture Framework
  2. Level 2 - Certified - Covers indepth scenario based application of EA Framework knowledge

Preparation.

Without going into the introductory details of the various starting points and documents, let me directly jump to the approach I followed. If you are interested in this certification, I assume that you know the starting ends already. You may find some unconventional suggestions - but those are just suggestions and I don’t put any legal binding on anyone.

  1. Basic principle to follow - Irrespective of whether you are going through a guided course or self studying - there is just no alternative to read and understand by yourself. No one can feed such knowledge to you. It can be learnt, earned and applied.
  2. For starters, get started with Conformance Requirement document for Level 1. It is a good starting point considering the fact that you are about to go on a long journey and you know very little of where to actually start.
  3. As a tip, try to read a bit more than what is mentioned/expected out of conformance requirement document. This would ensure that you have covered 70% of what can be asked in Level 1 MCQ questions.
  4. Once you are done with L1 section, give a mock attempt for Level 1. Expecting yourself to excel in this attempt would be unjust. You might even fail - don’t worry - but this attempt is very important as it gives you an overall feel of how the exam would appear.
  5. Next, do not bother to follow Conformance Requirement document for Level 2. Yes you read it right. In order to understand the framework in it’s entirety and in your interest of knowledge and confidence, you better start reading the entire document top to bottom.
  6. TOGAF 9.2 has a great structure. Stick to it while you read those 500 pages. Take care to not get lost in the process. There is a ton of content and terms that can overwhelm. Know what you are reading at every word. This helps in relating and weaving the concepts together.
  7. Tip: There is an app on Google Play Store by name ‘TOGAF Ninja’. You can of course download other apps for practise but I recommend this specific one as it helps you step up per part of TOGAF 9.2.
  8. It is good as far as you are still progressing through all the parts of TOGAF 9.2. But start looking for other resources of mock-tests both for Level 1 and Level 2. This is because, you don’t want to be used to, to face particular style of questions.
  9. Once you are good through all the parts of the TOGAF 9.2 document, start giving full fledged attempts for Level 1 and Level 2. Keep these attempts separate and do a thorough review of all the question - answered right or wrong. It is important to understand why you marked what you marked and is it as per TOGAF Standards or not.
  10. For right answers - comfirm if your thought process is as per the document. Also check for any minor deviations which have not affected this answer but may affect if the question is asked in other way.
  11. For wrong answers - read through and realign to what the standard say.
  12. Level 2 is a scenario based and open book exam - do not use this fact to underestimate Level 2. Level 2 exam was very tough in my case. However, my mock attempts were no where close. Practice many level 2 questions. As many as possible.
  13. Don’t stress, take enough breaks. Enjoy life. Have a beer.

Last 5 days.

I have heard of cases where people have cleared the exams by just 3 days of preparation. Even if this is true, don’t get carried away. Last few days before your attempt can be crucial. These last few days don’t hold any significance as such. These last few days are more like those days where your confidence is high and you feel confident to crack the exams comfortably - as if this is what you have been doing for your life time. Remember, there is nothing like D Day here, it’s all about the mind-set that you need to develop.


Will update as and when needed.