A few TOGAF 9 post-exam notes…

Earlier today, I blogged about my preparation for the TOGAF 9 combined part 1 and part 2 exam, which should lead to me becoming TOGAF certified.

Now that I’ve taken the test, I just wanted to share some more experiences that might help people looking to do the same. I won’t say anything about the test content as there are strict disclaimers about that sort of thing – my post earlier today outlined my study/revision approach though (and it obviously worked as I passed the test) but here are a few extra pointers that might be useful:

  • The 4-hour time slot includes registration, pre-post exam questionnaires etc. (on this occaision, those weren’t offered to me) and the actual exam is 150 minutes long (as the courseware tells us – I believe there are slightly longer sessions for those who don’t speak English natively).
  • I found that I completed part 1 (40 questions, with a required pass mark of 55%) in about half the 60 minutes that are allocated but that didn’t give me extra time to use for part 2 (it’s still 90 minutes).
  • All of the responses are multiple choice, and you can mark questions to go back review them at the end, before moving on.
  • Confusingly, at the end of part 1, the only option is to “end” the exam – don’t worry, it does continue to part 2, even though it’s not clear that it will do so.
  • Part 2 is only 8 questions (for which the required pass mark is 60%), of the scenario-type with graded scoring (5 points for best answer, 3 for next, 1 for the least-best answer, and 0 for the distractor). I needed all of that time with some questions requiring reference to the TOGAF manual (provided electronically, more on that in a moment). If you allow 5 minutes per question to fully read the scenario and understand what is being asked of you, that doesn’t leave a lot of time to search the TOGAF reference, so it’s better not to rely on it too much and to save that for when you really need it!
  • I didn’t expect to get a score for part 2 immediately (at least not based on the advice from The Open Group) so wasn’t sure if I would get my part 1 score today either. Needless to say I was pleasantly surprised to find that scores were given for both parts 1 and 2 at the end of the test (a combined score on screen, and individual part 1 and part 2 scores on the test result certificate).

Prometric test centres have been dire since I first started taking Microsoft exams in the late 1990s (later I took some VMware ones too) but it seems nothing has changed. The test booking site feels like it was specified by the same user experience designers as the London Olympics ticketing site, with no ability to search for centres based on post code (I had to scroll through 5 pages of test centres, looking at each one to see if it was near me and had availability to book a test on the date I required). The centre I visited today had newer PCs than I’ve experienced in the past – even a widescreen monitor – but the software still looks like something from Windows 3.1 and the resolution was still 1024×768 (stretched, and spilling over the edge of the visible display!). That caused some challenges with the scenario-based questions (scenario on the left, answers on the right) – thankfully the keyboard allowed me to scroll as the on-screen controls were not visible…

Add to that the fact that I couldn’t even take a bottle of water in with me (some earplugs would have been nice too) and that the reference lookup of the TOGAF manual in the open book part of the test ran in an awful PDF browser that has terrible search facilities (and which crashed on me, requiring the test centre to restart the PC running my exam – thankfully back to the same state it was in before the crash!) – in all it’s not a very good user experience.

Hopefully all of this helps those who are less familiar with Prometric tests to prepare for their exam.  Good luck!

[Update: I just found some advice for those who are less successful – according to The Open Group, if you fail and you attended an accredited training provider, then you should contact the training provider for a retake voucher)

Getting my head around Enterprise Architecture (specifically TOGAF)

After many years designing and implementing technology infrastructure, I’ve been trying to move “up the stack” out of the (multiple) domain architect space, towards solutions architecture and onwards to develop as an enterprise architect. That involves a mindset change to progress from the role of a designer to that of an architect but I’m on my way… and I currently manage roadmaps, portfolios (standards) and reference architectures (amongst other duties), so it might be useful to know a bit about Enterprise Architecture…

I thought it might help to get certified in The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) and I spent a week on a TOGAF 9 training course last year following which I received a voucher to sit the combined part 1 and 2 exam. At the time of writing I don’t know how successful I’ve been – in fact, this post is timed to go live at the moment when I’ll be sitting at a Prometric testing station, no doubt getting frustrated with a single monitor and limited screen resolution as I try to search a PDF of the TOGAF manual at the same time as answering questions… but, even so, I thought I’d share my revision experience for the benefit of others.

For reasons that I won’t go into here, there was a gap between my course and my exam voucher being released so I wasn’t able to take it whilst the content was still fresh in my mind. Several months later, I set aside a week to spend four days revising the content, and reading around the topic, before taking the exam at the end of the week but I found it hard to revise – my main strategy was to going over the course content again, along with a variety of other resources – all of which were highly textual (even the diagrams are unattractive) and, above all, excruciatingly dull.

I decided I needed some visual content – not just diagrams but some animated content describing key TOGAF concepts would have been fantastic. I didn’t find anything like that, but I did find a series of videos recorded by Craig Martin, from Knotion Consulting in South Africa (thanks to Sunil Babu for his blog post that provided the tip).

The first and last two minutes are, understandably, an advert for the training that Knotion provides but then Craig gets into a really easy to understand overview of TOGAF and broader enterprise architecture concepts, even diving into service oriented architecture (SOA) at one point.  These are freely available on YouTube but, based on watching them, I would suggest that Craig could package up some training content for remote delivery and it would be a worthwhile investment for people in the same situation as me. In fairness, I did start to get lost towards the end, and the overview doesn’t seem to strictly follow the TOGAF materials (that may be seen as a good thing!) but the first hour was really useful – there is definitely a market for high quality subscription-based training in this space. Remote delivery ought to drive down the costs and it would certainly be better than the Architecting  The Enterprise course that I attended (of course, that’s a personal view and your mileage may vary – I’m sure many people enjoy hours and hours of very dull PowerPoint content mixed with some group exercises and squeezed into 4 days when 5 would be more appropriate…).

Of course, Craig’s 90 minute introduction isn’t everything I need to pass the exam but it has helped to cement a lot of concepts in my mind. After watching the videos, I stopped working through the course materials in detail, and concentrated on a more general understanding of the Architecture Development Model (ADM) and the related TOGAF concepts. The TOGAF Version 9 Pocket Guide (which was provided on my training course) helped here, as did the Practice Test Papers (also from the course but available online for a fee).  Other potentially useful resources include:

I’m still not sure I have enough knowledge to pass the exam (we’ll see – my scores in the practice tests were OK but not outstanding) but I do feel better prepared and, if anyone finds some useful, modern, engaging aids to learning about enterprise architecture in general and TOGAF specifically, then please do leave a comment!