How to prepare yourself to ArchiMate 2 examination?

ArchiMate prepare header

Recently I passed ArchiMate 2 certification and I think this is a good reason to share with you how to prepare to it.

I took ArchiMate 2 Combined Part 1 and 2 Examination which means two exams during one sitting. It’s faster and cheaper, so I advise anyone to do it like that. Firstly you solve part one, if you pass minimum level of correct answers second part starts immediately. Both parts of exam together took me just 45 minutes (yes, I’m not mistaken). Just for comparison TOGAF 9 or CCBA took me around 3 hours each. So I consider it as rather easy certification to get.

First of all you need study materials.

The obvious choice is ArchiMate 2 specification. In my opinion it is very comprehensive description of the language (comparing it to UML spec it feels almost like reading a novel). There are many examples and language is well explained. Specification is available for free at TOG (The Open Group) website which makes it extremely easy to access. Specification is also available as a PDF or printed book, but you need to pay for that versions which in my opinion is waste of money.

If you prefer books then, you should take a look at official ArchiMate® 2 Certification Study Guide. It is available from TOG as PDF or as a printed book (and PDF and ePub) form Van Haren Publishing. It is the same content, so unless you need physical version, go and buy PDF from TOG. Why? Because it’s cheaper on TOG store and Van Haren is putting DRM into its PDF and ePub versions. This means that basically you are constrained you to read it only on PC with Adobe software (and I have Kindle DX and iPad). Personally, I’m against such practice (In Poland digital publishers don’t use DRM on books for many years. Even game distributors don’t do it, just google CD Projekt Red) but I digress.


book on my iPad

Study guide, in my opinion, is 85% copy paste from the official specification, but it also contains sample questions, exercises and two example exam tests – one for each exam part. This is added value which is extremely useful in a preparation process. Without sample tests it’s hard to assess yourself and be sure that you will pass the exam.

The third and last item on the list is a book written by Gerben Wierda called Mastering ArchiMate Edition II. This position deserves its own review (maybe in future?). It has gentle introduction to the language and later on moves to more advanced topics about modeling architecture in it. As modelling is not really covered by the exam (it tests your knowledge of the language, its metamodel and ability to understand, but not exactly create, models IMHO), you don’t need to read it all. However if you are working (or plan to)  with ArchiMate  than this book is nothing less than a bible for you 🙂 However, just for exam preparation purpose I advise to read first 5 chapters – it’s a bare minimum – you can always finish the book after certification.



What you need to know?

The knowledge needed for the exam is very concise. There is only one topic and exam focuses on it. I didn’t spotted anything on the exam which was not covered in the study guide or spec. There is official classification of learning objectives / points that divide material into subcategories but I have my own, much simpler classification. What you need to know can be divided into three areas:

  1. Metamodel – you simply need to understand it and remember it (it is easier this way 🙂 ).
  2. Derived relationships – it’s crucial characteristic of this language and you need to study it well.
  3. Other things – this is not a real knowledge area like two above. It aggregates all remaining things (not covered above) that you can get on the exam like: what is architecture? how to extend ArchiMate language? relation between ArchiMate and TOGAF, viewpoints.
ArchiMate 2 generic metamodel

ArchiMate 2 generic metamodel

Point 1 is really fundamental. You need to know what elements (sometimes called as concepts) are in ArchiMate 2. What they mean, and how you can use them? Which basic relationships between elements are permitted? That all is defined by metamodel. Also you need to understand the core classification of concepts: Active Structure, Behavior, Passive Structure. It is the thing that makes this language interesting and different from other notations like for example UML or BPMN. (BTW: ArchiMate is not object oriented like UML)

Point 2, Derived relationships. This is where the real fun begins. Yes, learning for this exam was a real fun for me (my wife says I’m crazy 🙂 ). I spent hours on modeling different applications and solutions to be sure I understand what is going on under the hood.  Those exercises gave me confidence that I know all eligible relationships between elements and I can easily spot those which are not legal. This is extremely important as during the exam, especially second part, you will need to choose the best model / diagram out of four presented to you. Usually two out of those four have syntactical errors (illegal relationships) that disqualify them. Without, deep understanding of derived relationships (and metamodel) it’s rather not possible to pass it. That’s why I think it’s important to read Gerben’s Mastering ArchiMate book, as he explains the underlying concepts of the language much better than the spec or study guide.

All the other things – point 3. Well everything you need to know is described in the spec or study guide – no additional knowledge needed.  For example, TOGAF’s ADM and relation of ArchiMate elements to it. You don’t need to study any additional material for that, I would even say you don’t need to know what TOGAF is 😉

I hope this short summary will be useful for anyone preparing for ArchiMate 2 certification.  If you have any questions, just ask them in the comments section.

Good luck!

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