jeanne’s togaf foundation cert in 3 weeks experiences

I received a score of 82% on the TOGAF (Part 1) Foundation Certification today.  (see here for how I did on part 2)  Just like with the SCEA/OCMEA and Core Spring certifications, that means it is time to blog about my experiences!  In fact, a manager at my company asked if I was shooting for 100%.  I said “no, my goal is to pass and write a blog entry about it.”  Mission accomplished.


I took the TOGAF (the open group architecture framework) class three weeks ago.  It prepares you for both part 1 and part 2 of the exam.  And teaches TOGAF of course.  Part 1 is a 40 question closed book multiple choice test.  Part 2 is open book scenarios.  I’ll be taking part 2 in May or June.  The class I took offered $50 off the exam, but not a free attempt. As you might imagine, taking the class greatly expedites the time to learn the material.

We had some logistical issues when I took the class including the class book not showing up until the end of the second day.  This hurt my understanding.  At the end of the class, I scored 70% on the practice test provided by the instructor (not the official practice test) but guessed a lot and didn’t feel like I understood TOGAF.  It wasn’t until I finished l woding the study guide that things started to fit together.  In that respect, the certification was valuable – it got me to solidify what I learned.

In the class, I “learned” a lot of words.  (If I didn’t know it by heart, did it count as learning?)  I had trouble creating a mental picture of TOGAF in class.  It wasn’t until day 5 that I started to see it coming together.  And even then,  a lot seemed to run together.  I did well on the mock exams we got, but I relied a lot on test taking techniques and “that sounds familiar” as opposed to actual knowledge and understanding.  The course instructor compared TOGAF to learning a second language.  That’s something that I struggled with in school as well.

Note the passing score for part 1 is currently 55%.  There are a lot of references to 60% in materials.

Registering for the exam

At Prometric, choose client “The Open Group” and exam OG0-091 – TOGAF 9 Part 1.  Yes, this is really the exam for TOGAF 9.1 Foundational; it just doesn’t say that.   For me in the US, the price is $320.  I choose a date exactly two weeks from the end of the course.  I was off work that day so I could go to my local testing center.  I didn’t want to try out a new testing center given my experiences last time at Horizon Testing Center of Flushing.  The TOGAF is big on the detail/concentration.  I needed to know I was getting that – and I do at my local center.  I also din’t want to wait too long.  I spent a week in a course on TOGAF.  That’s the most focused time I’m going to have.  Plus I have an upcoming vacation and want to get the test in before that.

Problems with Prometric

  1. The list of testing centers is by state not by zip code.  New York state is a large place.  This isn’t the most useful sort order.  There are only 23 sites in all of New York state that offer this exam.  Only four are in Manhattan and all four of those are in midtown.  Hardly convenient if someone wants to take the exam during lunch/after work.  Luckily the testing center in my neighborhood offered the exam.
  2. When I went to the testing center, my name wasn’t in the system.  After they resolved that, I sat for 40 minutes while they tried to load the test and failed.  Eventually they gave me a ticket number with Prometric to call and reschedule.  Prometeric offers me a “free retake.”  It’s not a retake!  It’s the exam I paid for in the first place.  With exams, retake implies you failed.  Grumble.  I picked that day for a reason.
  3. On the day of my reschedule, it took 20 minutes for the exam to load.  The testing center rep said it is normal for the first Prometric test of the day to be a lot slower to load than the others.  Lovely.

Exam tips (written after taking the exam)

To study, know the contents of the study guide  (either one – I’ll get to that soon) really well.  Be comfortable answering the end of chapter questions and the 40 question practice test.

And some general tips for taking the exam:

  • The questions were extremely similar in difficulty to the 40 question practice test
  • Some of the questions seemed the same as ones in the 40 question practice test (this might be an artifact of there only being so many ways you can ask a question testing the difference between initial and residual risk)
  • For a number of the questions, being able to pick the most TOGAF sounding word out of a line up is enough to answer the question
  • For a number of the questions, process of elimination works.  For example “choice A is the definition for a deliverable so it couldn’t be that”
  • The practice questions had a lot of “which of the following are not true” type statements.  There weren’t a ton of “not” questions on the exam.

Exam timing and confidence

When I was in the class and while I was studying, I felt like my confidence level on the questions was very low.  It went up from 50% to 75% as I studied.  On the actual exam, I was 100% sure of 24 of the questions and mostly sure of 31 of the questions.  There was 1 question that was very confusing wording wise.

I spent 30 minutes out of the allotted 60 on the exam.  I did it in three passes.  I spent 10 minutes answering the questions and marking those I wasn’t sure of.  I then spent 10 minutes on the 16 I wasn’t 100% sure of.  Finally I spent 10 minutes looking for stupid mistakes and questions that were answered in other questions – there weren’t any though.


Resource Comments
The official study pack Sells for $60 if you didn’t take the class.  It includes the study guide reviewing what you need to know with 90 practice questions.  It also contains the 40 question practice test.  If you only use one resource, this is the most important one as the level of difficulty/questions are most similar to the real exam.
Unofficial study guide by Kevin Lindley I really liked this book.  It was shorter and contained less “fluff” than the official study guide.  I also had it in printed form so I could highlight things.  At less than $20, this was a great investment.  The questions were a little harder than the real exam, but not excessively so.  And that was more because this book had some “pick 5 of the listed 8 answers” type questions.  There is also a free 40 question mock exam from the same author online.
Book by “William Manning” I did not consider this book.  The reviews say it is trash.  And the “author” has written certification books on every topic under the sun.  Which means it is trash or farmed out to someplace with quality issues.
3 The Open Arch mock exams The questions in this free mock exam were significantly harder than the mock exam.  The site says they were created by a team of TOGAF certified architects.  However, all three exams were published elsewhere on the internet first.  Where the authors said they took them before taking the real exam. There are a ton of ads on the exam – 2 per question.  I found some grammar issues.   That said, it was helpful to take them for learning/flashcard type purposes.  Note that these exams were originally published under separate cover – no need to take them in both places.  The originals are here, here and here.
Quick review of terms Faster to review than the study guide
Another great review sheet Faster to review than the study guide
Android app I didn’t try as I don’t have an Android phone.  My co-worker said it was fine as a resource.
10 Flashcard type mock This was like flashcards; can you recognize the TOGAF terms.  And only 10 questions.  Worth the few minutes to do it to build confidence, but not that educational.  It also doesn’t show the answers.  You can retry though and look at the ones you weren’t sure of though.

How I recommend you study

Now that I’ve actually taken the exam, I recommend the following plan for someone studying (with the goal of passing the exam, not necessarily learning TOGAF well)

  1. Read the official study guide or the unofficial study guide.
  2. Keep reading/practicing the questions that came with the study guide of your choice until you are consistently scoring 70% AND can complete it quickly.  Don’t worry about re-exposure to the exam questions.  As long as you are remembering answers like “strategic goes with long term planning” vs “the answer to #1 is c”, you are learning.
  3. Take the 40 question practice test.
  4. Make sure you’ve memorized key definitions, and are extremely familiar with the phase definitions, deliverables (what they are for/when they are used), terms in the Enterprise Continuum and terms in the Architecture Content Framework.
  5. Memorize the difference between consistent/conformant/etc
  6. Be familiar with the steps in each phase – especially B-D.
  7. Take any other mock exams listed above to build your confidence/speed if you aren’t satisfied.
  8. Take the real test.  Try to ignore the voice in your head saying you got to familiar with the practice questions.  This is a good thing.

Don’t post a comment asking me to send you the study guide, sample questions or any other copyrighted materials.

my first “thing in print”

mala-coverI was the technical proofer of Manning’s OCA book and got asked to write the foreword.  I got the book in the mail and was shocked to see “foreword by Jeanne Boyarsky” listed on the cover under the author’s name.  I’ve only noticed the foreword author listed on the cover when it is someone famous.  Or maybe it is that most books have an preface rather than a foreword.  Or maybe this is a shameless way to get me to advertise the book on my blog :).  (just kidding)   Anyway, it is AWESOME!

The publisher suggested putting the foreword on my blog.  Here it is.  Notice I got plugs in for Head First Java (from another publisher no less) and in there as well.  Speaking of plugs, feel free to read what I wrote on the blog about the OCAJP exam itself.

Note: I also contributed the equivalent of about half a chapter to the OCPJP book by Kathy Sierra and Bert Bates.  That was a lot more work and is really more of an accomplishment.  It comes out around summer.  But this foreword is the first thing I’ve ever written to wind up in a print book.  Very excited.

Taking the OCA Java Programmer I exam is a bit like taking a driving test. First you learn the basics, like where the brakes are. Then you start driving, and then you get ready to take the driving test to get your license. The written test includes things every- one should know, things that you’ll never use after the road test, and some things that are tricky edge cases. While the programmer exam cares about breaks more than brakes, it certainly likes edge cases!

Consider Mala Gupta your driving instructor to get you ready for the programmer exam. Mala points out what you’ll need to know when programming in the real world—on your first job.

And consider this book your driver’s manual. It gives you the rules of the road of Java, plus the gotchas that show up on that pesky written test. But don’t worry, it is much more fun to read this book than the driver’s manual. Just like the driver’s man- ual won’t teach you everything about driving, this book won’t teach you everything there is to know about Java. If you haven’t yet, read an intro to a Java book first. Start with a book like Head First Java or Thinking in Java and then come back to this book to study for the exam.

As the technical proofreader of this book, I got to see it evolve and get better as Mala worked on it. Through the conversations we had on little things, I learned that Mala knows her stuff and is a great teacher of Java. While I’ve only technical proofread a handful of books, I’ve posted reviews of over 150 technical books on Amazon, which makes it easy to spot a book that isn’t clear or helpful. I’m happy to say that Mala’s explanations are all very clear, and the pointers are great.

I also got to read Mala’s posts in the certification forums at She’s been sharing updates about the exam as it comes out and posting fairly regularly for over a year. As a senior moderator at, it is great to see an author sharing her wisdom. It’s also nice to see the similarity in writing style between the forum posts and the book. This shows the book is readable and written in an easy-to-understand, casual style.

I particularly liked the diagrams, flow charts, and cartoons in this book. And, of course, the annotated code examples I’ve come to expect from any Manning book. Each chapter ends with sample mock exam questions and there is a full mock exam at the end. This gives you good practice in getting ready for the exam. Wrong answers are well explained so you don’t make the same mistakes over and over.

My favorite part of the book is the “Twist in the Tale” exercises. Mala gives a num- ber of examples of how making a seemingly minor change to the code can have major consequences. These exercises develop your attention to detail so you are more obser- vant for the mock exam questions and the exam itself.

I had already passed the OCA Java Programmer exam with a score of 98% before reading this book. If I hadn’t, the questions would have prepared me for the exam. Studying from this book will give you the skills and confidence you need to become an Oracle Certified Associate Java Programmer. Happy coding and good luck on the exam!