How to Ace the SSA: My Top Study Tips and Tricks

Written By: Rachel Hoenisch

Getting your Pega Certified Senior System Architect (PCSSA) can be an intimidating prospect, but when you approach your preparation with a strategy, it feels a lot less overwhelming.  I passed my SSA exam in the past year, and today I wanted to share the way I studied for it.  Of course, everyone has different methods of preparing for exams, and my way certainly isn’t for everyone, but the core idea—finding areas of weakness in your understanding of the material and working to strengthen them—will likely be at the heart of most successful SSA study strategies. 

The first thing I did was go through the entire SSA course on Pega Academy… without taking notes.  I worked through every module and took every quiz without once putting pen to paper.  This probably seems counterintuitive, but my objective the first time going through the material wasn’t to memorize it; it was to familiarize myself with the terms and concepts, so the next time I saw them, they’d no longer be completely new. 

Once I had completed that first pass, I went through and did it a second time.  This time I did take notes, making sure to jot down any words or ideas that didn’t immediately make sense on my second time seeing them.  However, I didn’t take the quizzes, since my goal wasn’t to memorize the questions and answers on the course, but to understand the material itself.   

Then, when I had finally run through the course again and reviewed the notes I had taken, I went back and took every quiz, noting down each one where I didn’t get a 100% on the first try.  After reviewing the material for those modules, I’d take the quizzes again, repeating the cycle until I felt like I had addressed the gaps in my knowledge.  In the days leading up to my exam, I made sure to pay special attention to these topics when reviewing, but I also made a point of glancing over the things I was more certain of, just to be safe.   

Before I knew it, the exam was over, and I had my SSA.  And through all the reading, taking notes, and reviewing, the thing I found most helpful was discussing the material with my peers, explaining things to them and listening to them explain things to me in turn.  Teaching a topic is one of the best ways to make sure you truly know it, after all, so if possible, I highly recommend working in a study group.   

I hope you’ll find some of what I shared today to be helpful, and if you’re preparing to take the SSA, I wish you the best of luck!