SAP HANA Certification (C_HANAIMP_10)

I was lucky enough to have SAP HANA training provided for free by the SAP APJ Partner University.  Whilst not the most comprehensive training in the world, I would like to thank SAP APJ for their efforts and gesture of good will.

Training
Armed with a few free days training in SAP HANA I thought I would chance my luck at the SAP HANA certification, this was however not free. It had been over 8 years since I last took any kind of SAP certification, the last time being SAP BW back in the year 2004.

When I took my SAP BW exam I already had 3 years experience working in industry and a few project lifecycles under my belt. Moreover my employer at the time paid for the certification as they required a certain number of certified consultants to gain SAP partnership, I believe if this was not the case I would not have not have taken the certification.

Study
Thus after 8 years i felt a little apprehensive about sitting an SAP exam especially given that I only had a few days training and no ‘real-life’ project experience. Did I study for the exam, hell no, finding the time to study whilst carrying out business as usual activities was near impossible. I did however glance through the test questions on SAP’ website and managed to get 8/10 correct so i thought it was worth a punt to pay for the exam itself.

Venue
Whilst I live in Indonesia I choose to sit my exam at SAP Malaysia mainly because I have more faith in their exam facilities and ethics, I have had bad experiences with SAP Indonesia in the past, something I will share in a future blog. When I arrived at the SAP examination facility in Malaysia I was a little shocked to find that SAP had outsourced to HCL Axon, this can’t be right an SI running SAP certifications on behalf of SAP?

Candidates
Whilst waiting to enter the exam room I got chatting to a few of the exam participants, they were all very young (or maybe it is just me, old at 34). I asked the usual questions, where are you working, what is your background, how long have you being working with SAP etc… The answers to some these questions frightened me, for example over half of them had less than 1 year working with SAP, there was 1 person who had prior experience working with analytics (BW/BOBJ) and 80% of them worked for HCL Axon (noting it was an HCL Axon training facility). I would not have expected such candidates sitting an exam like HANA, in my head alarm bells started to ring.

Why you may ask was I thinking like this, well i am thinking like an SAP HANA customer would think. Any client who invests in SAP HANA wants and demands experience not only technical but also industry experience. Why do you think SAP themselves are currently reluctant to let their SI partners loose on a HANA project without involvement themselves, SAP cannot afford any bad press regarding failed HANA implementations.

Exam
The exam itself is the standard SAP exam format, 80 online multi-choice or single-choice questions, no ‘help’ material allowed, you vs a computer. You are given 3 hours to complete 80 questions, there is no negative scoring. For multi-choice question you must select all answers correctly to receive the point, you have an option to tentatively select the correct answers and go back at a later time and change them. A point to note is that question given later on in the exam will actually help give you the answer to previous questions, a bit silly but this is what happens, do not be afraid to return and change your answers.

As mentioned there is no negative marking, so if you really don’t know just take an educated guess! SAP likes to be the biggest and loudest, so with regard to marketing type questions if it puts SAP in a good light there is a high degree a certainty that it is a correct answer, there are several questions like this.

Another pertinent point, this is a 3 hour exam to answer 80 questions which is 135 seconds a question, when taking my BW exam I remember I used about 90 minutes which included re-reading the exam paper twice and revisiting several questions. I also remember being nervous about pressing the ‘final submit’ button as your result will be instantly displayed, pass or fail.

This time around I felt no nerves what so ever, i blasted through the 80 questions in about 35 minutes (26 seconds per questions). Before i pushed the ‘final submit’ button I looked around the exam room at the other candidates, they all still had their heads buried deep into the computer screens. I thought to myself I am no spring chicken but it is experience that counts, even when doing exams.

So as not to leave the room too early, i took the opportunity to write down what i thought to be the most difficult HANA exam questions in the hope to share them later. After 10 minutes of scribbling i decided that was enough and pressed the ‘final submit’ button, great I had passed.

What I found a little bit disturbing was that the pass mark for this exam is 59%, now when I did BW exam it was a respectable 70%.  I thought how can the pass mark be 59%, who came up with this idea? 59% surely is not a conceivable pass mark; it means you are allowed to get 32 questions incorrect, this is nonsense.

After receiving my result, i decided it was time to leave the exam room but not before the examiner relieved me of all my scribbles, yes that’s right you are not allowed to take your scribbles with you. On the flip side, I was allowed to keep the SAP pencil, it was with this pencil after I left the examination room that I re-wrote out my scribbles, and luckily for me I have a memory span slightly longer than a goldfish.

Questions
I read a great deal of blogs and bulletin boards, I always see the same headline ‘Passed my HANA certification’ and I think ok great, some dude passed, I am sure they would like to share some of the exam questions that were given. How wrong you would be, you explore only to find out they have developed a serious case of amnesia or perhaps they are just bullshitting about passing the exam…..

There are a few decent people out there who do share presentation materials but as yet I have not found anyone sharing specific HANA exam questions, could it be they paid for the exam and thus feel cheated if they share, possibly.

On the other hand I put my 500 USD pencil to good use and wrote out some of the questions, I have compiled 50 questions in the attached PDF document; however I make no warranty that the answers are all correct – this is for you to decide!

Click link to open: REMOVED ON REQUEST

Worth the Money
Personally I do not think so; the exam was far too easy in my opinion. The only benefit I can perceive by undertaking the HANA certification is that is shows that you are genuinely interested in the SAP HANA toolsets, interested enough to blow $500+ and a day off work sitting for it.

I do feel a little cheated that someone with no prior SAP or industry experience could pass this exam; in fact there is a high degree of probability being able to pass this exam blindfolded. I would strongly suggest SAP to move up the pass mark and tighten up the questions; does SAP really want to have 1000’s of certified HANA consultants with no experience giving their flagship DB a bad name?

This is kind of like letting children drive cars on the motorway at high speed; you know it will end in tears.

Conclusion
If someone else is footing the bill for the exam then by all means jump right in and take it, nice excuse for a day off work at the very least. However if you are personally footing the bill then I would think more carefully, will becoming a certified HANA consultant really get you work on a project?

If you are a seasoned analytics consultant who has learnt SAP HANA through using a HANA sandbox system and by reading the copious amounts of materials available on the web then this will inevitably come across at interview. My advice would be to put the exam fee towards decent laptop, invest it in some niche skill SAP training such as BPC, PCM or SSM or even use it to have a few enjoyable evenings out.

For those that are serious about SAP HANA you can now enjoy free HANA sandbox access courteous of SAP. Moreover, if you are really die-hard HANA fanatic who wants to get project experience, I am sure if you offered your services at cost there would be several takers including SAP.

I have heard that there are more than 5000 SAP HANA certified consultants globally, this equates to over 2,500,000 USD in SAP HANA certification fees alone, a nice money spinner for SAP but I am not convinced any benefit to the HANA customer.

Finally if you believe an SAP pencil to be worth $500 then you need to get you head examined and leave the HANA certification alone.

References
http://www.sap.com/services/education/certification/schedule/chanaimp10.epx

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About chrishoulder

Learning and teaching are two of my key passions, spending time with my family another. I am always on-hand and hopefully helpfully
This entry was posted in SAP HANA, Unhappy Chap and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to SAP HANA Certification (C_HANAIMP_10)

  1. arnold says:

    I’m impressed that you can remember 50 questions (with correct answers) from your certification. Nonetheless, good posting indeed.

  2. Dear Chris,
    thanks for this feedback. There are some very interesting perspectives and – as you may possibly know – there is a new version of the HANA exam now released which does not allow conclusions to be drawn on any of the previous questions further down the line. So I would advise people taking the exam to not rely on that and to work hard for the exam rather than risk failing. An educated guess is also very risky as, although as you correctly state, there is no negative scoring, in the multiple response questions there is also no partial scoring so that the response is either fully scored or not at all – there are no bonus points for getting part of a question right.
    I was however very disappointed to see that you shared questions in an otherwise informative blog. The reason you were unable to find other people willing to share HANA certification questions is not as you imply because they are greedy for their own success but because it is illegal. They and you agreed as a prerequisite to being allowed to take the exam not to disclose any questions in any form and if you had taken the time to read what you agreed to in detail you would know that having done so you have seriously jeopardized your certified status. Please remove them immediately. Many thanks in advance, Sue

    • chrishoulder says:

      Interesting points, if I am to understand correctly future exams have been tightened up and the pass mark brought back to 70%?

      Will SAP be providing credits to those certified in HANA to re-sit the new exam? I think this only fair given the amount of time and effort some people spent preparing and the hard work they have put in, it would be awful if there was a differentiation or perception that the first HANA exam was too easy.

      Without wanting to start a war, I was not made aware that sharing knowledge is illegal. Neither during registration on the SAP website or at any time during the examination itself was this made apparent, I guess this is in the finite small print somewhere.

      I do not feel SAP should discourage the regurgitation of questions and possible answers from memory, at the very least this good for discussion and debate. I have read numerous books with SAP specific exam questions; this is not illegal as SAP profits and is in this regard could be considered greedy for their own success.

      I am quite happy to return the pencil for a full refund.

      • Hi Chris,
        thanks for removing.
        The HANA certified folks retain their certified status regardless of any reversioning of the exam and there should by no means be a perception that the first HANA exam was too easy – although this is the impression I got reading your blog. The exam was actually designed to test candidates more like you with comprehensive prior experience so I am also surprised that you felt so old 🙂 but without knowing more details of what training and experience the other testers had – or indeed whether they all passed – it would be difficult for me to judge whether that automatically meant that the exam is easy. What should not be the case – which is much easier for me to judge – is that that the exam can be passed by drawing conclusions from later questions or “guessing”. Our analyses show that that is not the case. It is not possible to pass either of these exams by just guessing or flicking to and fro. What we did pick up in our latest review was, as you rightly said, that there were a couple of questions that could possibly have the “missing link” provided later and they are removed in the latest version. Re the sharing of exam questions I have yet to see a legitimate certification or accreditation program where that is allowed and does not potentially lead to disqualification from the program – whether in the IT world or elsewhere in the professional world. This is specified on sap.com but you were also presented a privacy agreement prior to taking your exam. You will have ticked the box to agree to not disclose exam questions in any form and you will also have been warned that violation of this clause could lead to withdrawal of your certified status and possible other legal measures. Sharing exam questions and sharing “knowledge” are two completely different issues. Benefiting from shared exam questions is cheating and puts those individuals who choose not to cheat and instead to learn for their exam at an unfair disadvantage. It has nothing to do with SAP’s “greed for success” – it is just a no-brainer for a fair certification program.
        Thanks for your understanding
        Sue

      • Kashif Ansari says:

        Interesting conversation between you and Susan. Though would have loved to see the exam questions but somehow agree with susan’s point that it will be unfair for the ones who have worked hard for the exam.

  3. Shah says:

    I heard that SAP is going to change the HANA certification course from 01st July and introduce two new courses HA100 and HA300. I am not sure that it will change the HANA exam right away in July or these courses will affect the exam in near future.
    Please let us know if someone has any information about HANA certification Exam.

    • chrishoulder says:

      HA100 – SAP HANA Appliance and HA200 – SAP HANA Implementation and Modelling are both new SAP HANA course offerings.

      From my understanding these courses focus on the latest release of SAP HANA SP04 (Revision 28+) and cover the newer features such as DXC and Text Search.

      I am sure certain questions relating to SP04 release will be added to the HANA exam; however the core concepts will remain.

      This was to be expected, SAP HANA is continually being improved and as such the examination will get more comprehensive to cover the new features.

  4. This was an a fun post to read because of how you wrote it. There are certainly a lot of spirited opinions about SAP certification in general, but I can’t make any real judgment on my end because I’ve never taken a certification exam.

    Sharing exam questions may be unscrupulous, depending on one’s view, but it is not illegal, unless SAP was claiming copyright infringement. The police aren’t going to arrest you and there is no law broken.

  5. Phil G says:

    Excellent perspective and article Chris. Well done. It asks very reasonable questions of the current SAP HANA certification process and it’s validity, reliability as a quality and value test to customers as well as to SI’s and individual consultants. On that front as usual, it’s “buyer beware” and ensure you do your checking. As an employer or SAP customer, Don’t just believe the resume, or the certification certificate.
    Cheers, Phil G.

  6. den says:

    Contrary to what @Sue says it is common practice for professional accounting exam practice to include past questions. Prior to sitting GCE O and A levels (as they were in those days) we had books full of past exam questions. In preparation for my final degree exams, we were given sets of past papers. Would anyone expect their doctor to perform surgery without supervised real life practice? None of those preparations make the real thing any easier but at least there is an opportunity to understand how those exams need approaching. And talk of illegality is plain silly.

    • Hi Dennis
      Absolutely right – it is common practice in a lot of programs to provide past questions for study purposes. SAP also has no problem with that. These were not past questions though – they were current. And yes – they are protected. And yes – every test taker signs – including Chris – signs the following: “This is an Agreement between You and SAP AG that sets forth the terms and conditions of your use and disclosure of exam materials.

      1. You acknowledge and agree that:
      • the questions and answers (hereinafter referred to as “the Test Items”) are considered confidential information, meaning that the information is of commercial value to SAP and is not generally known to competitors of SAP.
      • the Test Items are the exclusive property of SAP and are protected by international intellectual property laws.
      • you may not in any form and under no circumstances disclose the Test Items as long as they are considered confidential information of SAP.
      • you may not remove from the testing room any exam materials whatsoever provided to you or any other material related to the exam, including, but not limited to, any notes or calculations.
      • you may not copy or attempt to make copies (in physical or electronic format) of any exam material, including, but not limited to, any Test Items.
      • violation of any of these provisions may cause SAP to take legal action to remedy, or prevent, such disclosure or misuse, including, but not limited to, immediate injunction.

      I hope that helps to clarify
      Sue

      • I believe every test I’ve ever taken that I’ve paid for has some manner of understanding that you aren’t supposed to go telling everyone what was on it. I’m ok with that, because it is of material value to SAP. I do, however, STRONGLY believe that it is incumbent upon SAP to make available a set of comparable sample questions, which, while they may exist, are not very easy to find.

      • I absolutely agree Jamie. You can find comparable sample questions on sap.com/training.

  7. Amith says:

    We all need to remember a crucial aspect about certifications: being certified != expert. It just means they know the basics. Experience in addition to a certification is what separates a good consultant from the rest. I agree with the whole premise of certifications, but will never rely solely on certification when interviewing candidates or when marketing myself. If anything, certicification “breaks the ice” while being interviewed.

  8. elan says:

    discussion – closed shop minded director – speaks for itself – it intuitively reminds me to the 1984_apple_commercial. your decision which side you choose….

  9. Giles says:

    I have taken several SAP related classes from SAP. They were good, but I never felt confident enough to sit for any SAP related certifcation becuase I thought the deck was stacked aginnst passing and that SAP , just passes a certain amount of people to keep the certification value high. Something like the AMA, regulating the number of Doctors in the US. I can sympathize with aspiring candidates looking for very representative questions ; no-one wants to waste $500 when the chances of passing are not so assured if you are not within a certain percentile. It is reported that the PMP exam is now graded on a vaugely uunderstood formular.

  10. Fernando says:

    Hi Chris,
    gotta say it was very interesting to see how pathetic Susan’s attempt to make this whole thing illegal. Is SAP just too lazy to make new questions? They charge you an outrage amount of money for certification and when they see someone doing something that might affect their profit, they get out nervous and put the ILLEGAL crap. Just like the music industry. All bunch of …… (let’s not get there).

  11. Deepak Balhara says:

    Hi Chris,

    Your blog is really inspiring and helpful..

    Deepak Balhara

  12. Great post. Thank you for sharing your insight regarding SAP certification. This is helpful information for anyone pursuing SAP certification. Thanks much!

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