Changes to Microsoft Certification Exam interface

A short post to highlight some changes made to upcoming Microsoft exams. Many of my readers will have taken several Microsoft Exams on the Prometric platform in recent years and may have been frustrated by some of the more clunky elements of the exam interface.

You will be pleased to hear that some of these things are being improved immediately in various exams just being released, and it looks like the intention is to push these changes through across the board to other current exam titles too.

Immediate changes to biggest areas of complaint

Liberty Munson, Microsoft Learning’s psychometrician is tasked with making sure the exams you take make a good differentiation between test-takers who know their material and those who don’t. She recently wrote about her experiences of taking a typical MCP technical exam and the changes this has led to being implemented.

No more scrolling to the bottom on every question

Any ‘friction’ caused by the mechanics of taking the exam can make it frustrating for test-takers and harder to differentiate purely on knowledge, because some of the difference may be down to experience taking similar exams or simply skills in working the exam application. One of the annoying little things was the requirement to always scroll to the bottom of the page before you could move forward – even if the only bit at the bottom you had not scrolled onto was just blank space. This was doubly annoying in test centres which have small screens and non-scroll-wheel mice (yes kids, such things do still exist!).

Case Studies no longer timed independently

Likewise, exam questions which involve lots of reading for only a small question reduce the time that can be spent testing your knowledge. Case Studies try to get round this by setting up a scenario and then asking several questions about the same thing (this type is often found on “design” exams, and on others too). The time invested in reading the scenario and getting to grips with it makes sense, but if you managed to deal with all the questions in a Case Study quickly, you could not use this extra time for the next one, which did not seem fair to many. So now there will be no individual time limit for a case Study, all the time is shared between all questions.

Changes to the exam interface and question types

There are lots more changes to generally improve the clarity, navigation and overall experience of getting Microsoft certification, as discussed in this recent Born to Learn blog post about the new exam interface.

As I mentioned in my post Exam tips for MB2-866 Customising CRM 2011 the old question type of “choose all that apply” is back, but there are also some other new ones being introduced, such as “multiple choice, repeated scenario” questions.

These are similar to case studies in that you read the scenario once to get your head round it then answer several questions about it, so this is a much better use of time than reading a similar but slightly different scenario for every question. The way they are presented is slightly different from Case Studies in that the whole scenario is repeated at the beginning of each question in the group for ease of reference (it is clearly delineated so you can see the part that is the same and where the actual question begins). This sounds like a sensible question type to have, and I look forward to seeing it in exams I am planning to take soon.

You can find out more about how the exams look and feel, and get information about how to answer the various different types of questions in the Learning Snacks on this page about Exam Formats on the Microsoft Learning website.

One Response to Changes to Microsoft Certification Exam interface

  1. Pingback: CRM 2011 – Exams …. « Roman's Blog

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