On 5th December 2016, I had the honor of speaking with Akanksha Ashar just after her PMI-PBA® exam. It was evening, and I was working in my office, I got the call from her, she was excited to share her exam success story. We sat together to discuss her exam journey. Akanksha had an incredible willingness to share what’s worked for her in the exam; then I thought why not to take a formal interview touching her success? Friends, let’s have the details of our discussion in her words:
Q: Tell me about yourself.
Akanksha: I am Akanksha Ashar, I am having about eight years of IT experience. I have been Infosys almost for 5 years in the telecom domain. And then joined Vistaar technologies which is into pricing domain, and we are pricing solutions. Since last one year, I am BA here, before that I was the quality consultant in testing. Now I am into BA profile since more than one year. It has been very interesting about being a Business Analyst. I think, this is a very interesting job which I am doing, which I aspire to do since approximately three years from now.
Q: Why you did PMI-PBA® certification?
Akanksha: I did my B.Sc. Computer Science from GNIT software engineering, so coming from a bit of technical background, but I did not have the background of Business Analysis, as in my previous company I was into testing and I had got a lot of domain knowledge and the domain always interested me. In Infosys, I did many internal certifications, and I was always curious to know how the customer thinks, how they feel when they are paying? How should they be treated? This was always my priority to understand. When I joined this new company, I got too much domain knowledge and tried to understand all these things. When I joined Vistaar, I found that Business Analyst is one profession, which could give me more exposure to customer interaction, and which could help me to understand the Business very closely. So after Quality Consultant, I got some exposure but as a Business Analyst, it was more interesting as a Job and more exposure also. That was one reason, I thought of some certification, I explored CCBA and CBAP, but the PMI-PBA® suited me best as per my experience to get a correct knowledge and to justice my role basically.
Q: Your view on iZenBridge Learning Material?
Akanksha: iZenBridge has lot of learning components:
The first best thing about videos, I found that they are very short, so I used to love going through 5-8 minutes’ videos. It feels like, one thing is done. This is the thing which I always praise. Making videos short is the strategic thing which I saw. If the video is one hour, it becomes very difficult, sometimes you have less time and not able to understand the complete context. Initially, the first round of videos played the biggest role in creating the basic understanding. Firstly, videos everyone should go through, and along with go through the PMI-PBA® practice guide. Then going through the videos for the second time, for the options which you have not understood.
Assessment has all types of questions, which comes in the PMI-PBA® exam. The type of questions like what the next action is? Scenario based questions, basic direct questions – so all types of questions are very well covered. And the most important thing is explanation – which helped me a lot, and it really created the actual understanding. So even if I read PMI-PBA® book, it does not quickly create the understanding, it does not absorb immediately. I think, the second round helped me absorbing it, and the assessment clarification helped me to understand the entire context and the reason behind it immediately.
I started going through forum very late, because of time constraint. In the end, forum played the biggest role. In the forum, all the clarifications I found more useful, rather going through PMI-PBA® reference book again. Those discussions in the forum made me think and apply my knowledge – what is right and what is wrong, why it is wrong. So this kind of understanding built when I became active on the forum. I was also curious, every time when I found a new topic, it interested me. I happen to read more on value stream mapping, all logic trap; many new topics interested me. In December 2014, PMI-PBA® forum started, and I have read almost all the posts and tried to respond to as many as I could. Yes, some topics, I could not cover, because I had my exam today. Covering different topics on the forum had given me more experience; simultaneously I referred PMI-PBA® reference book. And everything I could co-relate, and I was very confident after going through the forum. So it is very important to go to the forum and check out all the answers. If you post questions in the forum, it enhances others learning also. Using forum sequentially, randomly by searching, all ways helps.
Q: Your experience of joining clarification sessions?
Akanksha: Clarification sessions are very important; direct interaction always makes a difference. Initially, I was not very active in asking too many questions on the clarification session, but I always like to hear what others are asking and I was not much of preparation also that time. Then I became bit active and helped me by direct one-on-one interaction with one who has in-depth knowledge. Seema, you were always part of the clarification session, and I had seen you were very confident all the time also when you called me all – to show having some faith in me, also helped me to go and give my exam confidently. So sometimes when you are preparing and you are doing all the hard work and if no one can tell you that you are doing the right thing or something. So it makes a difference if somebody is there, I think you played a role that way also very well. For all questions, you were confident, I never saw – that you are going back and check, it was all instant. It was all coming from you directly, thanks for that.
Q: In your view, how to prepare in last seven days? What advice would you like to give for last days before the exam?
Akanksha: Last moment, based on my experience, take rest, relax a bit and be confident. Do not memorize at all, which is not required. Understand every sentence, what comes in the exam, is just a basic English. If you absorb the right understanding and basic thumb rules, anyone can crack this exam. I did not see much like, which is coming directly from the PMI-PBA® reference book. I was little disappointed not to see the exact lines etc, but the way PMI-PBA® exam is designed, it is just great and wow feature. The way they are designed it, so they are just trying to capture the understanding of exam taker, and they have done it in best possible way. I should appreciate that. Because I am one, who is worst at memorizing, The best thing for the exam, that everyone says not memorize it. This is the right thing PMI-PBA® doing it, so you should focus on your understanding, what you are trying to understand and how it is right in a logical way. Like raising a change request, and in what scenario, what are the basic things you should do? Understand the rationale behind it, only then you can connect it for the right decision in the exam as well. Considering, there is a more scenario-based exam, you can choose the best option in the exam.
For last few days, the initial preparation can be done from videos, and with reference books and all, but last 2-3 days, going through all the forum topics, it will be a good quick revision. And it will be to the point. For last few days, the best thing is the forum. And it is very quick; I think three days are enough to cover enough everything on the forum. Because in last moment, you might not like going through the same content of books.
Q: Your advise to future test takers?
Akanksha: Focus on understanding, and that’s it. iZenBridge gives the perfect content which is the main thing. One round of videos, extensive use of the forum and taking as many assessments. Assessment marks build your confidence, and clarification sessions build your understanding. And you can crack the exam for sure.
Friends, let’s listen the details of our discussion in her words:
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