I passed part 2 with 90% today. Despite having taken part 1 a month ago and not touched studied since, I retained a lot. This is good. As I skimmed/read the part 2 study guide, I also realized I retained a lot from class. I spent less than a week studying for part 2. But most of the learning went on during the class and when studying for part 1.
Registering for the test
Registering at Prometric went smoothly. I wish they’d let you search by zip code. New York State is large. My local testing site didn’t have any seats the day I wanted to take the exam. And I would never go back to the second closest one (read why Horizon Technical Consultants of Flushing is no good.) I then looked for centers in Manhattan and found NetComLearning. (I think I might have taken the Core Spring cert there. It’s a good center. They even let you keep your wallet/house keys with you in your pocket.)
Resources I used to study
I’m sharing my scores in addition to commentary on the practice exams. This helps with the “am I ready to take the exam” question. The gist is that your score on your first attempt of the official practice test is a good predictor of your score on the real test.
|The official part 2 study guide.||Since part 2 is open book, my study approach was to have both the official part 2 study guide and 700 page pdf open. I mapped the text/paragraphs between the two as I skimmed/read. The goal was to become familiar with how to find information quickly in the 700 page book. Which is a useful skill for when I later need this information to apply TOGAF.While much of the text is the same as the 700 page book, it is easier to read and more concise. It costs $30 but we were provided a copy as part of the course. It also contains the official practice test, but more on that later.|
|Open Arch practice test – #1||I got 75% on this one. I had only read a couple chapters of the study guide at this point. I used a mix of memory and the 700 page pdf. Note that this practice test is better than practice test #2. I wish I had waited to try it. It’s still not as hard/interesting as the official practice test though.|
|Open Arch practice test – #2||I got 100% on this one. On this one, I looked up every single answer and used it as a sanity check that I could find information in the PDF quickly. Which I could as I answered all 8 questions in 35 minutes. Both practice tests seemed way too easy as they were a very straightforward mapping to the PDF. It was also possible to identify some answers as wrong by comparing the verbiage in questions to each other. The official practice test is much harder/more interesting. They were still worth doing though. If you can’t recall or look up this information very quickly, you aren’t ready for the official practice test.|
|9 multiple questions on viewpoints||Viewpoints aren’t covered in the study guide, but are apparently important. I went through the 9 multiple questions with the study guide open as a review from class. I only got 5/9. Wish there was some detail with the answers.|
|Official practice test||This is included in the study guide. Alternatively, you can buy it for 99 cents. The reason I keep saying hard/interesting, is that they don’t give away the phase by stating it; you get to think. That’s the interesting part. The hard part is that the questions are LONG and there is a lot to keep track of when comparing answer choices.I like that the answer key tells you what they were testing along with a chapter/section reference in the book. My score was 95%. I got the second best answer on the viewpoints question. I’m shocked that I did this well as my brain felt like it was turning to mush while reading the choices. Other interesting scoring statistics: I identified the distractor correctly on 7-8 of the questions. (on question 7, I wrote two choices as being distractors because I couldn’t tell which was the distractor and which was merely wrong.) On 5 of the questions, I identified the 1st/2nd/3rd/distractor order completely correct.I spent 50 minutes on it. I didn’t spend the remaining 40 because I read the 700 page book in the exam is hard to use. Which means I’d waste a lot of time on that on the real exam.|
|My instructor’s 4 practice questions||I got 40% on this. I found the distractor on three of the four questions. I wasn’t able to use the book to help me with any of this question set. And I only spent 15 minutes. Maybe I was tired? The spirit felt very different in that I used the book a lot for the official practice test and not at all for these four questions. I did it again the morning of test day and got 80%. Granted this was because I knew not to go with my gut choices. I also used the book a tiny bit (to double check artifact names in one question.) This was meant to be a confidence building activity and not a test of how I was doing. I still find these questions to be A LOT harder than the official practice test.|
|Chris Eaton’s 2 practice questions||I got 50% of this. I found the distractor on one of the two questions. I was able to use the book to help. On this one, I KNOW I was tired as I missed the phase one question was asking about and it was explicitly stated in the question.|
- As you do practice questions, try to rank them in terms of “best answer”, “2nd answer”, “3rd answer” and “distractor.” All the practice exams give you all four of these in the answer key so you can check your understanding AND test taking skills extra.
- On both practice tests and the real exam, try to identify the distractor before you start ranking the others. The distractor may not use TOGAF words. Or it may pertain to a different part of TOGAF. If you can identify the distractor on every question, your expected value is now 60% on the exam. (Because you can now get 1, 3 or 5 points out of 5). Conveniently, this is the pass score.
- Read the description of the Prometric PDF usability issues. I didn’t have this problem as you’ll see below, but it is still good advice.
- There are two possible approaches on using the PDF. One is to take the whole test without it and then check answers at the end. The other is the use the PDF for each question but timebox it. I chose the later. I determined I wouldn’t spend more than 10 minutes per question on the first pass. Then I’d use the extra time at the end on any I “ran out of time on.” In the official practice test, that was just the viewpoint question.
Test day strategy
- I made sure that the laminated board was two sided. You are entitled two two boards (or a two sided one.) When I went to Horizon, they only gave me a one sided one. For that test, I wasn’t writing much so it didn’t matter. For TOGAF, I used the two sides.
- The engine:
- Don’t bother taking the practice/training test. I said yes to taking it thinking I’d get to see where the reference button was for the PDF. And maybe the navigation. Nope. It was just the standard Prometric engine in the practice. Which you’ve seen in part 1 so should be familiar with by now.
- The screen displays two frames. The left one is the scenario part. The right one is the one-two sentence question and all the answers. I didn’t have to scroll as much as I was worried about.
- The bottom left corner as a “reference” button that launches the PDF. It was a little laggy; taking 1-2 seconds each time to open the PDF. The PDF displays in a new “window”, but not the type you can alt-tab to. So a lot of clicking. The PDF was fine though. I had read it was clunky, but it wasn’t. You could navigate using the table of contents or searching or scrolling. Just like when I practiced. The only odd thing is that I seem to have hit a shortcut to keep scrolling down at some point. I clicked around and it stopped after 15 seconds of poking.
- Before clicking the start button, I took a moment to write each question #, “a”, b”, “c”, “d”. I was only able to fit three of them going down the page so I put the fourth on the right quarter of the page. I did the same on the back so I was all set for the eight questions.
- The actual test was the first time I didn’t feel my brain turning to mush from reading the questions. I guess I FINALLY learned to discern what is important.
- I went through the questions in three passes.
- The first pass (50 minutes) was for questions I could answer in less than 10 minutes each. I did use the PDF for six of the eight questions on pass one because I felt I could do so efficiently. During this pass, I wrote down the area I felt the question was testing and whether I felt each choice was the distractor, 1st, 2nd or 3rd answer along with my thoughts on why. This helped me avoid having to re-read the answers. It also let me recover my thoughts when revisiting. I also logged the amount of time I spent on each question (to keep me moving) and my confidence level of my answers on a scale from 1 to 10. This let me know which ones to go back to.
- The second pass (15 minutes) was for doing a mini “research project” on the two areas I was less familiar with. I could have answered each of these in less than 10 minutes. I choose not to on pass 1 so I could figure out where my time would be well spent. Obviously, the “research project” approach wouldn’t help if you weren’t familiar with the PDF.
- The third pass (2 minutes) was to click through each question and make sure the radio button for my first choice was still selected.
Overall impressions of the TOGAF cert
- Studying for part 1 was tedious to me. I hate memorizing. It is necessary to know the terms/phases though so it was worth spending time on. Just unpleasant.
- Studying for part 2 was more interesting. It became an exercise in how to use the book efficiently for me in addition to becoming more familiar with TOGAF. This is a good skill. And most of the questions are about understanding/application which is more fun.
- And nothing to do with the cert, but I have used a little TOGAF at work since I took the class. Which shows the use!
Good luck on your cert and feel free to ask questions in the CodeRanch TOGAF forum.
Note: As usual, don’t bother asking me to share materials. Everything mentioned here is either free online (which you can get) or paid content (which I will not share.)