Level 2 of the TOGAF exam is the level where you are given a set of scenarios and then asked what you would do in each situation. There are four alternative responses: one is the most “correct”; two are distractors that are not as good as the “best” option; while the final option usually describes a response that ignores TOGAF altogether. In a nutshell, it requires students to show awareness of how to apply enterprise architecture practices in real-world situations.
The big question that I get asked time and again is how to tell which answer is “correct”. Many students find Level 2 difficult because several of the possible options seem like reasonable replies. Three of the options describe responses that are partly correct, and the potential responses include things that are intended to either misdirect students or at least confuse them.
The Open Group, the organization behind TOGAF, expects students to answer questions in both Level 1 and Level 2 according to the recommendations, suggestions, and directives of the TOGAF documentation. In other words, you must answer the questions “according to TOGAF” and not get distracted by any ideas you may have picked up elsewhere. This can be particularly difficult for students who have some experience of enterprise architecting since day-to-day practical hands-on experience doesn’t always tally with the way that the TOGAF documentation describes things.
Just to confuse things further… When it comes to taking the official exam, the scenarios, questions, and responses have been vetted and tested carefully to avoid any misunderstandings; but if you are preparing for the exam, you may come across example scenarios that have been written by trainers or practitioners that are not quite so rigorous. It is useful to check whether the examples you are working through are from official sources or not; the most useful ones to help you prepare for the exam are official examples or questions from previous, actual exams.
What Else can you do to Improve Your Chances of Success in the Exam?
Well, firstly, remember that the Open Group Level 2 exam depends on very precise wording and context. In the official exam, you can assume that the wording of the scenarios, questions, and answers is checked very thoroughly, so when it comes to taking the actual exam, it is extremely unlikely that you will get anything that strays from the gospel according to TOGAF. You can use this to your advantage by reading exam questions very carefully and by applying the good EA technique of ‘deconstruction’ to really get to understand the topic that each scenario is testing.
Another useful EA technique is to examine every concern within its broader context – and, again, you can apply this technique to analyze the circumstances and viewpoints that lie behind the scenario. Architects must always work with a degree of uncertainty and fuzziness. Issues and concerns are never straightforward, and a lot of what we do as enterprise architects is to raise thinking to the architectural level so that decision-makers can make an informed choice between options.
In the real world, options and choices are all relative. In some ways, this is reflected in the TOGAF Level 2 exam by the fact that answers are relative. You must rate the responses according to whether they are the “best”, “next best”, etc., which is, to some extent, a matter of interpretation or opinion.
In the real world, this is part of the architectural debate led by the EA team to decide the most appropriate resolution of a set of concerns. In the official exam, the ordering of the answers is, again, something that is rigorously checked, but you may also come across examples elsewhere that reflect the views of the one or two people responsible for writing the examples!
So, when you are analyzing your options in the exam, you can apply the same type of comparative thinking. On the one hand, from your study and knowledge of the TOGAF documentation, you have a set of criteria that you can use to evaluate the “correct” answer. The more that an option matches the descriptions and concepts in TOGAF, the more likely it is to be the “correct” answer in the exam.
If you check the answers for any of the official questions against the documentation, you will find that they are a match for the wording within the documentation. When it comes to taking the Level 2 exam, the scenarios, questions, and answers follow a precise wording, and it will conform with the TOGAF documentation.
So, try to understand the logic and thinking behind the TOGAF documentation. As always, you need to think like an enterprise architect; but in preparing for the TOGAF exams, you must think like a TOGAF enterprise architect!
I’ve Passed the Exam. Now What?
Passing the exam is just the beginning. There are still many challenges faced when setting up an Enterprise Architecture Practice. One of the major challenges with Enterprise Architecture frameworks is ‘how to implement’ or, even more importantly, ‘how to start’. Good e-Learning offers a TOGAF Implementation eLearning course designed to show you just that.
This course provides an excellent overview of ‘how to start’ regarding getting an Enterprise Architecture Practice established (or potentially improved if you already have one). It will also provide you with insight and enough detail to integrate directly into your practice incrementally.