CBAP and CCBA Synthesis and Evaluation Style Questions

As you know, preparing for the IIBA’s CBAP® or CCBA™certification exam can be a lot of work! One piece of advice is for you to get familiar with the types of questions found on those exams. That provides you with a useful look at how the stuff you are studying might be presented to you in an actual exam question.  Remember that you will face 150 questions of various question types on your exam. You need to navigate these questions efficiently and effectively to achieve a passing score on your exam. While there is no substitute for knowing and understanding how the BABOK® Guide says you should do your business analysis job, your comfort with question types may also be of assistance.

We have already looked at three common question types in previous posts: knowledge, comprehension and analysis style questions. Let’s look closer at the final two, less common question types you may see on your exam: synthesis and evaluation questions. 

Synthesis questions can be quite challenging!  They test your ability to relate facts and draw conclusions based upon the information you are given.  Here is an example of a synthesis question:

After reviewing the existing process to approve a new cell phone order, Ginger realized that the senior manager is not always available to manually approve the purchase.  She documented the capabilities that facilitate a faster ordering approval process relative to the existing situation.  She felt that the existing process was inefficient and that it needed to be changed. What would be an appropriate way for Ginger to express the cause of the current cell phone ordering delays?

A.            Blame the manual process for the inefficiencies

B.            State all of the facts in a neutral manner

C.            Express opinions on how to fix the process

D.           Insist that approvers adhere to strict deadlines

The correct answer to this synthesis question is B and here’s why: you are being asked to “draw a conclusion” based upon the specific scenario you have been provided with in the body of the question. Ginger is being asked to effectively use her underlying competencies as a business analyst to solve a problem. Her best choice is to confront the problem and lay out all the information for the decision makers to analyze and then decide what to do.  

Be careful with your exam questions and watch for too much information. Occasionally (as in the above question statement) there is more information than is needed to answer the question correctly.  Don’t let extra, unrelated information lead you to selecting an incorrect answer or to wasting too much time on a particular question.

Evaluation questions expect you to assess ideas and make reasoned judgments. Take a look at the following example of an evaluation question:

To document why your project was initiated, it is appropriate to include the:

A.            Business case

B.            Project mandate

C.            Solution approach

D.           Business goals

The correct answer to this evaluation question is A. This is a “reasoned judgment” style of question based upon what you know and the fact that you understand what is required in this particular situation. Typical business analysis documents used to initiate a project are created in the Enterprise Analysis knowledge area, and include the business case, required capabilities, solution scope and business need.  

When you are sitting the exam, make sure you are able to read the questions and the possible answers swiftly but accurately. You need to understand what the question is about before you can select the correct answer. Adult readers are notorious for skimming, scanning and searching when they read. This can cause you to jump to selecting the wrong answer based upon what you think you just read. Train yourself out of these bad habits and learn to read the actual question being presented.

Well, that’s it for our quick look at the final two types of questions – synthesis and evaluation.  If you are just joining us, be sure to go back and have a look at the posts addressing knowledge, comprehension and analysis style questions to complete the set

Susan Weese

Business analysts are increasingly becoming the critical liaisons between business and solution development (oftentimes IT), so they must communicate and relate with equal effectiveness throughout all levels of an organization. Download this free White Paper to learn how to address common business analysis mistakes.

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