BCS Business Analysis Exams Tips

Posted on July 15, 2017

BCS business analysis exams tips can prove useful if you want to successfully pass your exams the first time. Exams can be tough especially if you haven’t done one in a very long time.

We put together a few exam tips that will help you approach exams with confidence and successfully pass your BCS business analysis exams to achieve the BCS business analysis qualifications and get the Business Analysis Diploma.

bcs business analysis exam success


BCS Business Analysis Exams Tips for Foundation level

The BCS business analysis qualifications at foundation level can be achieved by passing a one-hour multiple-choice business analysis exam which consists of 40 questions. Each question offers 4 alternatives and there is no negative marking. You need to pass 26 out of 40 to pass the exam.

You should study the material very carefully as the exam follows the theory quite closely. As you are not penalised for your mistakes; if you don’t know the answer you should eliminate the definitely incorrect and guess the most likely from the remaining answers. Attempt all 40 questions – you will have plenty of time – most candidates finish in less than 45 minutes. Resist the temptation to rework answers. Research on the results of multiple-choice examinations suggests that when students return to previous questions they often undo a previously correct answer. The first, more intuitive answer is usually the correct one.


BCS Business Analysis Exams Tips for Practitioner level

The practitioner level exams are open book and based on a case study scenario. You will have 15 minute reading time, followed by one hour writing time. If your first language is not English you will get an extra 15 minutes writing time (also if you normally get extra time in exams for conditions like dyslexia).

The exams are set and marked by your BCS exam provider. The exam papers and marking schemes are approved and audited by BCS.

The pass mark is 50%, (moderation by another marker is required if the mark is between 45% and 55%). The exam providers send your results to BCS, notify you of the result including your mark (up to 6 weeks after the exam – often much sooner), and BCS will issue an e-certificate (up to 8 weeks)

A variety of qualifications are offered in business analysis topics. The practitioner exams always follow the same format: you are given a scenario describing a business area on which you have to answer questions relating to the analysis topic chosen.

Before starting the exam proper you have 15 minutes reading time – you can read the exam paper, any notes or books that you have. It is useful to refer to practice exam papers and any suggested answers — Metadata provides you with two sample papers and answers for each BCS certificate topic. During this time you are not allowed to write anything nor are you allowed to use a highlighter.

Normally the questions total 50 marks with a pass mark of 25 /50 – 50%. There is no choice of questions so you should attempt all to maximise your chance of success. Marks for questions are not normally equally divided – question 1 could be 10 marks; question 2, 20; question 3, 8; and question 4, 12. Each question usually relates to one syllabus topic but is often divided into several parts. You have one hour to complete your answers so should normally allow about 1 minute per mark – so you spend about 10 minutes on a 10 mark question. Time is often a problem and you will need to think and write quickly.

All practitioner level BCS exams are set by your BCS business analysis course provider and are checked by independent auditors from the BCS. They try to set a common standard that applies to all exams and ensure that BCS exams are covering the syllabus and that exam providers are marking fairly. However, each exam provider will have written the exam to fit with their own courses and will, to some extent, be preparing you for that exam.


You should talk to your course provider about the style of answering questions. Metadata Training gives their candidates the following advice:

  1. Make sure you answer every part of every question.
  2. Make your answers as specific to the scenario as you can
  3. Use the information given in the scenario as far as possible, most of the answers should be provided within the scenario (it can be useful to highlight or mark the question paper after the reading time). For example, a Business Analysis Practice BCS exam using an estate agency case study might ask you to do a PESTLE analysis (6 marks) — under Economic; recession, or falling house prices would be a reasonable answer (but ONLY if it were mentioned in the question).
  4. Bullet point style answers are acceptable if you find these quicker to write, but flowing prose is also OK
  5. Don’t worry about the legibility of your writing or of your diagrams, we will have seen worse!
  6. You have to write in ink and we recommend you just cross out any errors
  7. When drawing diagrams (e.g. use case diagrams or business activity models) show as many items as you reasonably can. You will not get penalised as long as these are reasonable, and are justifiably within the scope of the scenario. The marker will be following a marking scheme which will reward certain specific items. Thus a use case diagram in an exam worth 12 marks could expect 8 marks for use cases, 2 marks for actors, and 2 marks for communication channels. If your diagram only shows 4 use cases then, even if these are perfect, you can only get 4/8 marks for this part. However, if your diagram shows 10 use cases of which 6 roughly correspond to those in the model answer and the other 4 are reasonable but do not correspond then you will score at least 6/8 and possibly more.
  8. Some questions ask for a number of specific points e.g. identify 2 stakeholders (2 marks)


BCS Business Analysis Exams Tips for Diploma level

Once candidates have obtained the appropriate number of modules for the Business Analysis Diploma, they will be eligible to sit an oral examination. The BCS business analysis oral exam will test the communication abilities of the candidate, their ability to apply knowledge to their own, or simulated, work environment.

The oral will last for 45 minutes to an hour and will involve two examiners. It is recommended by the BCS that candidates take the oral examination within six months of completing the set of written examinations but we recommend that students should apply as soon as they have passed their last exam. However there is no BCS time limit.

The oral practice day is to give candidates the chance to get used to answering questions that are designed to show their practical understanding of the theory that they have learnt during the training courses.part of our preparation includes evening webinars to which all diploma candidates are invited.

Before taking the test candidates complete a form that shows their history of working in Business Analysis. We will help you complete the form. This form is partially used as a basis for the questions candidates will be asked by the examiners.

We will also go through the marking scheme with you so that you have a clearer idea of what to expect in the oral.

These three processes should highlight any weaknesses that candidates have in time to do something about them before the exam.

Download the Business Analysis Certifications Guide

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