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Preparing for your CLSA Journey

Shivram Bhupathi, 6 minute read

Ever wonder how Pega’s elite Certified Lead System Architects (CLSAs) manage to complete their certification? Admittedly, becoming a top-level developer in Pega’s low-code platform is not easy! The exam requires a wealth of project experience, design thinking, and a penchant for optimization. It can be very daunting to look at this as a whole.  So let’s break it down and take a closer look at how our existing CLSAs prepared themselves. 

Take stock of your entry point

It’s important to audit yourself and your experience prior to starting your CLSA Journey. Many people want to rush their career along, but simply have not reached the level of experience and exposure that is required of a project lead. Others have a long list of successful projects behind them but have never touched more recent versions of Pega. 

The best advice we can provide candidates is to complete the latest version of the Lead System Architect course – we provide you with guided coaching and synthesized experience as part of the learning journey. 

Many people don’t realize that design thinking concepts are incorporated throughout every submission in the LSA course. These challenges and mission tests are intended to shift your method of thinking from finding a solution to finding THE solution, all while factoring in the latest features and best practices for the Platform. 

Prepare for the exams

The PCLSA certification is comprised of two main exams (or depending on how you look at it, three individual time-bound components). Each exam requires a different skillset, and together all these skills comprise a Certified Lead System Architect. To prepare and strengthen the skills that are required for each exam component, you need to understand what is expected in the exam – Pega’s CLSA Team offers PCLSA Preparation Clinics for free through Pega Academy.


The Pega Architecture exam (PCLSA Part I) is a 120-minute written exam administered through our testing partner, Pearson VUE. This exam validates whether you’ve mastered the design and architecture skills taught in the Lead System Architect course and can guide an application development team. Questions are scenario-based, covering multiple areas of Pega Infinity™. As with all Pega exams, it’s not about finding one answer, but about understanding the problem statement in the given question, then selecting the best possible solution from a myriad of options.


To prepare for the Design Phase of the Application exam, candidates need to define and architect a solution based on the presented scenario. A comparative study should be done for the viable solutions to arrive at the best optimal solution considering performance, scalability, reusability, and maintenance. Gather the requirements and draft the design documentation while considering the Three Pillars


This portion of the exam requires you to fully build, test, and implement a Pega application based on the approved optimal designs proposed in the App Design phase. In addition to being theoretically familiar with the features and functionality of the current software version, candidates need to prove they can execute these features and functions. The Application Build is not a practice round – this is the actual exam. Candidates should consider creating a Proof of Concept (POC) using the latest features, so that they can build, test, and implement a Pega application for the approved design that they proposed in the design phase of the exam.

Common mistakes to avoid when you attempt the exams

Many candidates who want to take the next step in their careers have not yet achieved the necessary field experience. Pega’s standard guidance is that you should function as a Senior System Architect for at least one year before initiating your CLSA Journey. It’s important to be honest with yourself as this is high stakes. When people try to push their careers along before they are ready, they end up failing the exam several times.

We’ve also seen many candidates glossing over the coursework and study materials, assuming they have enough experience to simply review content. This results in relevant exam content being overlooked, or not factored into the design and implementation. Completing the challenges and mission tests in the LSA course is very important to your understanding of the latest features and best practices that you should follow to build and implement a Pega application.

Don’t reinvent the wheel! Use application structure and layers within the application to guide your architectural design. Candidates should focus on case design patterns and specialization concepts, in service of performance and maintainability.


Think it’s time to initiate your CLSA Journey? Register for a free PCLSA Exam Preparation Clinic to go over the exam components, study materials, and prep work in more depth. These free sessions review all the above aspects and give candidates access to a member of our CLSA Team to answer their questions!

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About the Author

Shivram Bhupathi is a Pega Certified LSA with overall experience of 21+ years in the IT industry and  successful completion of 15 years in the Pega ecosystem, playing distinct roles such as architect, team lead, and certified instructor with CDH, RPA, CLM & KYC skills. I am passionate about learning innovative technologies and teaching is awfully close to my heart 😊 

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