How to pass Swift Certification Exam – UPDATE II 04/14 41

If you think about SWIFT competences seriously or your organization needs to get 2 Swift experts and you are the chosen one (or two) than I hope this guide will help you to be better prepared for theoretical exams.

Certification path has been changed during 2013 and now there is only one exam for Connectivity&Interfaces and one for Swift On-boarding process. More info on Swift page What is new is that Swift Alliance Gateway is included. Previously it was different certification track which was not required for Service Bureau certification.


To be fully compliant with the Shared Infrastructure Programme, the candidates must be certified by 30 June 2014.

According this Programme the service bureau must have at least two employees certified for the SWIFT technical skills. This certification implies passing a service bureau exam on Alliance interface, SWIFTNet Link, and connectivity questions.
Having a formal arrangement in place (for example, a system care contract), with other SWIFT Certified Specialist is equivalent. 

For those Service Bureaus which might have challenges to meet deadline 30th June 2014 we have prepared

Swift Certified Specialist Contract 

Harder than previous
Have you been certified for SWIFT release 6? I have bad news for you. Release 7 exams are harder. In most questions there are multiple answers. Sometimes there is question: Choose which statement is true or false and you have 5 answers. Usually one or two are very easy but others requires some deeper knowledge. So than 1 question actually consists of 5 questions. One mistake and whole is wrong. There is certain amount of modules and specific time for whole exam. When you finish one module, you cannot go back. When you finish all questions, result is shown immediately in percentage per each module. You have to have above 60 percents per each and usually official result will be send by email in one week. One note. I have passed those exams in 2012, so I’m referring to those. It might be possible that Prometric has implemented some minor changes.

Where to start?
Very useful document is SWIFTReady Services Implementation and Integration Programme Overview. You can find it on in documentation under Service/Partners section. First you need to know which certification track you need to pass. This is little bit confusing and it is good to ask Swift. For instance Swift Service Bureau which would like to acquire SwiftReady Connectivity needs to have two Swift certified experts for Alliance Access track and what is important only to pass theoretical exams is required. In this document you can find how exams are structured, how many modules it have and time schedule. In general there is average time 2 minutes per one question! Even though you need to pass theoretical exams only, it is worth to read also information about practical certification. I would say a lot of areas mentioned there are part of test.

Learn, learn, learn. I might say read, read and read again. Swift has good concept of installation and administration guides on You shouldn’t missed any.

Study materials recommended by Swift for Alliance Access 7.0 exam
Alliance Access 7.0 Configuration Guide
Alliance Access 7.0 Daily Operations Guide
Alliance Access 7.0 Getting Started Guide
Alliance Access 7.0 Installation and Administration Guide (Windows)
Alliance Access 7.0 Messenger Administration and Operations Guide
Alliance Access 7.0 Monitoring Guide
Alliance Access 7.0 Relationship Management Application User Guide
Alliance Access 7.0 Relationship Management Guide
Alliance Access 7.0 Release Letter
Alliance Access 7.0 Security Guide
Alliance Access 7.0 System Management Guide
Alliance Gateway 7.0 Getting Started
Alliance Gateway 7.0 Installation Guide
Alliance Gateway 7.0 Operations Guide
Alliance Workstation 7.0 Installation and Administration Guide
SWIFTNet 7.0 Release Overview
System Configuration Recommendations and Guidelines

Study materials recommended by Swift for Alliance Gateway 7.0 exam
Alliance Gateway 7.0 Administration and Operations Guide (for Web Platform)
Alliance Gateway 7.0 Error Guide
Alliance Gateway 7.0 File Transfer Interface Guide
Alliance Gateway 7.0 Getting Started
Alliance Gateway 7.0 Installation Guide
Alliance Gateway 7.0 MQ Host Adapter Configuration Guide
Alliance Gateway 7.0 Operations Guide
Alliance Gateway 7.0 Release Letter
Alliance Gateway 7.0 Remote API Operations Guide
Alliance Gateway 7.0 Security Guide
Alliance Gateway 7.0 Web Services Host Adapter Configuration GuideAlliance WebStation 7.0 Installation Guide
Alliance WebStation 7.0 Release Letter
Alliance WebStation 7.0 User Guide
Browse 7.0 Implementation Guide
High-Level Guidelines for (Local) Cluster Configuration
Remote API 7.0 Installation Guide
SWIFTNet 7.0 Release Overview
SWIFTNet Online Operations Manager User Guide
WebSphere MQ Interface 7.0 Installation Guide
WebSphere MQ Interface 7.0 Migrating to the MQ Host Adapter Guide
WebSphere MQ Interface 7.0 Release Letter
WebSphere MQ Interface 7.0 User Guide

Study materials recommended by Swift for SWIFTNet Link 7.0 exam (includes Alliance Web Platform)

Alliance Web Platform Administration and Operations Guide
Alliance Web Platform Installation Guide
Alliance Web Platform Server-Embedded Installation Guide
Hardware Security Module Operations Guide
SWIFTNet 7.0 Release Overview
SWIFTNet Certificate Administration Guide
SWIFTNet Link 7.0 Release Letter
SWIFTNet Link Error Codes
SWIFTNet Link Installation Guide
SWIFTNet link Operations Guide
SWIFTNet Network Access Control Guide
SWIFTNet Network Configuration Tables Guide

Additional study materials recommended by me
Alliance Access 7.0 Release Overview
Alliance Access/Entry 7.0 Functional Overview
Security Officer Guide
Resilience Guide
Alliance Workstation 7.0 Installation and Administration Guide
SWIFTReady Services Implementation and Integration Programme Overview

Knowledge base
In Swift’s Knowledge base, there are a lot of tips and it looks like that testing questions were inspired little bit by them or maybe in opposite. It is not easy to read it but give try and spend some time with it.

Some questions are not well formulated and might be even outdated
Problem is that exams are based on 7.0 version. There were improvements in newest releases like Fileact over SOAP, extend fileact payload size over 256 MBs however you should think which features were present in release 7.0. I have downloaded version 7.0 guides and read those. This is also handy because same guides are available during exam. So you will be better oriented in it.
During exam in many questions it was not clear the scope. I mean it was not clear if the question is concerning specific area like fileact in SAA or in general like fileact in SWIFT. I have discussed with other people and I have heard there were even some complains to Swift about it. It’s true that on my second attempt later, my questions were much better formulated and answers were more specific and unambiguous. I’ve got some example questions from Swift. You can find links here. So you can see what I mean. I was not able to be absolutely sure which answers are correct, but during my exam I’ve got those question and as I said, those were fortunately better formulated (answers as well) so it was much easier to pick up correct answers.

SWIFT trainings
Will those expensive trainings help you to be better prepared for exams? Yes, indeed. And it’s a nasty business of course. Trainings itself varies per each trainer but I recommend to go at least to one. Most important is to look around and chat with other participants. Share your emails and discuss who is preparing for exam or who already passed it. People with same interests would help each other. In my case it helped me a lot.

I would recommended these:
Managing PKI with Browse
Deploying Alliance Access
Release 7.0 troubleshooting boot camp (experience)

Practical experience required
Take this tip seriously. You really need to put hands on it and do learning by doing. You need to have an access to some test SNL, SAA and SWP to play with it. And I do not forget to mention HSM. It might be more tricky to test installation etc. You should know which logs are used during which actions and also you should know what’s the content of those logs. There is a question how license file looks like when it is downloaded from secure channel. Is it plain text or html? You will not find an answer from manual.

Tips & Tricks for exam in general
Get used to work with documentation available during exam. This documentation includes study materials recommended by Swift. During exam you can search PDF documents but you need to know in which one you can find proper information. Is it in SNL Operation guide or in SNL Installation guide or even in HSM Operations guide? Check how much time do you have and plan time slot per each module. During exam you will get pen and paper. You can see how much time you still have. So write down times where you should move to next module. You cannot go back after completing module! You can mark questions and at the end of module review only those. This will prevent to get out of time. Searching in PDF files is allowed but it won’t save you. It is helpful for command syntax questions. You need to know which terms are used in documentation and more time you might spend with searching in table of content. And try to remember as much as possible. If you will not succeed on the first attempt, definitely you will be better prepared. There are tons of documentation to read. I have bought Kindle and use it for reading manuals during commuting to work but still paper and under-liner is the best way at least for me.

Tips & Tricks II
Unfortunately there are not all documentation available during exam. I would recommend to study those functional overviews. A lot of questions are related to new release 7 features. Very unprofessional is that in SNL SWP exam there are questions about SAA workstation installation. That was unpleasant surprise. So be prepared. Read question and answers carefully. Sometimes I’ve got feelings that same question occurred three times but for example they have copied exact sentence from manual and changed one word. A lot of questions are asking what is available in which tool. There are a lot of new features in release 7 which are available only via Webplatform. During reading manuals usually it is mentioned that this and that feature is available only in SWP, but there is no summary. So try to write it somewhere.

Sample questions
There are few sample questions from SWIFT. It’s worth to look. Exactly in same manner whole exam is done. Nothing easy I would say.



I would be more than happy if this article will help you to succeed. And if you have any comments, updates please add comment here. Thank you.

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41 thoughts on “How to pass Swift Certification Exam – UPDATE II 04/14

  • Kiprono Rugut
    Kiprono Rugut

    Thanks Martin .. am sitting for the connectivity and interfaces exam this July and this post really makes it clear on what to expect and what to read for.

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    Thank you Martin. The information is much appreciated. Do perhaps know if there is a link to some SAG 70 sample questions?


    • Martin Ullmann
      Martin Ullmann Post author

      You are welcome Jaco. I do not have sample questions for SAG. I have those sample questions from Swift. Try to ask them. Does your organization require to pass SAG track? For Swift, SAG is loosing its importance and this tool is in maintenance mode. All new features are implemented in SAA.

      • Avatar
        Jaco Meyer

        Hi Martin

        Apologies for the dealyed reply. I certified on ver6 and still have to recertify on ver7. Thhis was the reason I am attempting Gateway. I’m writing SNL v7 Tomorrow. Thank you for sharing your knowledge, grealty appreciated. Any additional suggestions for Tomorrow?


        • Martin Ullmann
          Martin Ullmann Post author

          Hello Jaco,
          review documentation. You should know in which guide you will find which info. A lot of questions are regarding certificate lifecycle and HSM operations. There is very useful table in HSM op guide about page 95 something. there is summary which PED keys are needed for certain action and links for more info. Check release letters. Check which new features are in release 7 comparing to version 6. And Good luck!!

  • Avatar

    Hey Martin, thank you for the detailed information. I am taking up SWIFT on-boarding certification and looking for a sample paper and few reference documents. Would you be able to help me? Many thanks in advance!!

    • Martin Ullmann
      Martin Ullmann Post author

      Hi Muley,
      unfortunately I do not have any sample questions for On-Boarding. I’m trying to get eligibility key for this exam to register on it as well. Have you attended Swift On-boarding training? After that they will send you nice summary and additional reference materials. In short reference materials )most boring reading 🙂 ) are: SWIFT By-Laws, Corporate Rules, Message Routing Restriction tables, BIC Policy, Kits factsheet, Alliance Essential kit service description, Shared Infrastructure Programme (Terms & Conditions) and Shared Infrastructure Policy. In last two documents, there are 2 versions!
      And please share your experience after the exam!

  • Avatar
    Pratibha Prasad

    Hi Martin,
    I am taking SWIFT-on boarding exam and i would like to understand how is question type.. exam has been divided into 2 parts 1) theory 2) scenario based.. van you give me some examples of scenario based question

  • Avatar
    Jaco Meyer

    Hi Martin

    Trust all is well. Thank you for your insight provided wth the SNL 7 exam. I am writing SAG 7 early next week. Any suggestions would once again be sincerely appreciated.


  • Avatar

    Dear Martin,

    I have to pass Service Bureau Connectivity & Interface exams. Can you advise me links or send relevant materials or question samples?

    Kind Regards

  • Avatar
    reinhard lehmann

    We passed the “Skills Exam” on March 27th. (SB Connectivity and Interface) and I can confirm Martins recommendations:
    read – read – read. You may not have to memorise everything, but you should at least know, what information can be found in
    which document. The .pdf “Find” and “find-next” function, which is offered during the exam will then be really helpful. It all ends in
    asking the right question which leads you straight to the answer. Example – Question: “A maximun of 20 SNLs can be …”
    and the possible answers are true/false -> go and search the document for the figure “20”.
    “Find and read the right document” is really more or less what you are doing under normal circumstances:
    a) a problem/ question arises and you open the appropriate document
    b) start reading and prepare yourself, evtl find someone to assist you
    c) solve and close the problem.
    Noone – not even SWIFT- can expect you to know everything by heart, e.g. – how to configure a HSM Box;
    – so, take it easy.

    What I found a bit disappointing was, that you do not get any details on you test results,
    e.g. which questions did I answer wrong and where can I improve my knowledge. (?Maybe we get these results after June 30th?)
    My best wishes to all, who still have to take the exams!

    n.B.: Check carefully, which SW-components your SB is using! E.g. if you are not using SAG – which is by no way a mandatory SB-component – you can request at SWIFT, that you may skip the 30 Questions regarding SAG
    – which will make the Test much easier for you! (Thus, SWIFT reduced our Connectivity-Exam from 80 to 40 Questions!)

  • Avatar

    thanks alot for ur help i take the technical connectivity and interface exam for two times and unfortunately i didn’t take the score can anyone help

    • Martin Ullmann
      Martin Ullmann Post author

      Dear Rola,
      I understand your situation. You should really prepare well for third attempt. Is there possibility to attend Swift trainings? Part of the training is additional documentation.
      We can offer to your organization special Training for certification exam. This might increase your change to succeed. Also we are offering Swift expert contract. According Swift, Service Bureau can have formal arrangement with certified expert. It is important that you are actively working with Swift products and have real experience like installations, setup, troubleshooting etc. Please contact us directly at and we can try to find a solution.

  • Avatar
    M. DIBA


    I just have passed the Interfaces and Connectivity exam with a good result:

    Alliance Gateway = 90 %
    SWIFTNet Link = 90 %
    Hardware Security Module = 70 %
    Alliance Web Platform = 90 %
    Alliance Access = 90 %

    I had passed the on-boarding exam one year ago as well.

    What I can say is that the exam was so difficult, actually I was shocked when I saw how much hard it was. In some of the hardest questions, the most difficult part was to really understand what the question was trying to ask!
    But just a few of the questions were silly easy that coud let the examinee save the time. Passing 100 questions in 225 minutes means less than 2.5 seconds/question, so it is really importand if you could plan for a good time management.

    Just Remember how many questions per topic you will face:

    Alliance Gateway = 30 Questions
    SWIFTNet Link = 20 Questions
    Hardware Security Module = 20 Questions
    Alliance Web Platform = 10 Questions
    Alliance Access = 20 Questions
    Total = 100 Questions all in 225 minutes

    For On-Boarding it was just 30 Questions of Basics and 10 Questions of Scenario all in 90 Minutes

    I had finished on-boarding exam in around half a time or less but used 217~220 minutes for Interfaces and Connectivity exam.

    It is good to attend on-boarding web class since it covers almost all of its questions but for the interfaces and connectivity you must be really good in concepts and be expert on all topics and have a good relationship with the documents.

    Good Luck

    • Martin Ullmann
      Martin Ullmann Post author

      I have done it as well last week without SAA and also I have similar marks (80% – 85%) in each module. I have even finished 1 hour earlier. I must say that this specific exam for Service Bureau stuff is much easier now than those Theoretical exam for SAG or SAA. Still there is room for improvement in better clarification. Also problem was that there were questions about UNIX but SAG and SNL documentation was available only for Windows. good luck to all others. I think, that now it is much better!

  • Avatar

    Hello Martin and everyone,

    I have been working in SWIFT technologies (In IT) and I think now I have to take SWIFT certification.

    Though I work for a bank, my parent company does not sponsor my certification, I have to do it on my own. I work in India (I don’t think SWIFT has training center in India).

    Can you help me with providing information on the following? I sent an email to I have not received any reply.
    1) I am planning to take only exam and not taking the course/training, is it possible? If so, will SWIFT provide me any exam specific preparation material? Or it will be SWIFT manuals which I have to select and download from SWIFT site?
    2) I would like to seek your advice on the selection of certification. I work in IT side and mainly on SAA and SAG (never got chance to hands-on on HSM and SNL). What certification do you recommend me?


    • Martin Ullmann
      Martin Ullmann Post author

      Dear Veeresh,
      This is very unfortunate if your organization doesn’t sponsor you. Because SWIFT is costly in terms of fees. For you I think the best match would be SWIFT Training Qualification – Alliance Access Administrator, but it requires to travel, in your case to Dubai and pay 500 EUR for exam. And I think without BIC you can’t register. Check section training. As another example Service Bureau must have at least 2 certified people. Swift has a lot of training materials but only for training, not for exams. You have to pay for training and part of it are very helpful guides. If I can give you my advise, your swift knowledge has no difference if you having certificate or not. If possible, put hands on SAG and SNL. Those are vital SWIFT products, more important and if you will be experienced in SAA, SAG, SNL, you might have better change to get excellent job offers around the globe.

  • Avatar

    Dear Martin,
    I have completed the SWIFT On-Boarding last year.
    I am getting ready to sit for the Service Bureau Connectivity & Interface exam on next September.
    Please give me a guide (details) where I can get trained under SwiftExperts.

    • Martin Ullmann
      Martin Ullmann Post author

      Dear Shehan,
      firstly let me congratulate for your successful exam. About your question. We are providing tailored SWIFT training as a product. Similar to SWIFT itself but cheaper and not authorized. You can attend some SWIFT training. However the best is to check requirements and focus on guides. The key is to get familiar with guides to easily find what you are looking for. Full text search is not efficient. And of course – put hands on it. Good luck.

    • Martin Ullmann
      Martin Ullmann Post author

      Hi Anuj, In the article, there are already 2 documents with example test questions which are from the real test. Those are not easy and show you that you need to know how to search in provided documentation during the exam. Good news is that questions are easier now. You have 3 attempts, so don’t worry if you would fail in the first one. Good luck.

  • Avatar

    Hi Sir,

    Please help me answer these questions:
    1. Alliance Web Platform on Windows with 3 Dual Core connect to 2 Alliance Access Instance. Which is the minimum memory requirements? Why?
    2. Alliance Web Platform on Windows with 3 Core Duo connect to 2 Alliance Access Instance. Which is the minimum memory requirements? Why?

    Thank you.

  • Avatar

    Dear Sir,

    One more question, about open ports on firewall between SAA Server and Workstations. We have to open ports for connection from Workstations to Server? or from Server to Workstation? or both directions?

    Thank you

  • Avatar

    thank you for interesting topic. I can see you’ve posted few sample questions from SWIFT. Do you have the same for SWIFT on-boarding exam that you can share?
    thanks in advance

  • Avatar
    Owoeye Seun

    Dear Martin,
    I have been in the payment space for about 10 years but would like to pick competency in SWIFT Applications. Please I need references for hands on training with possibility of placement for on the job experience.

    Grateful for your response

    • Administrator

      Well there is a typical circle you have to step in. When your organization having a BIC, you can get access to huge training and education materials from swift.

  • Avatar
    Benoit T.

    Hi Martin,
    Thanks for this post, very good!

    Just a question, the path should be :
    1st SAA, then SAG, then SWIFTnet ?

    Or could I start with SwiftNet 7.2 ? 🙂

    Thanks in advance