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. Read about how the exam interface and question types have changed»

New micro-site for all Microsoft Certified folks

MCT logo mediumMCP RGB logo white borderMOS Master medium white

Microsoft Learning have launched a new central certification website for all your needs as a Microsoft Certified Professional, Trainer or Office Specialist:

This is essentially a starting point: at the top of the page you will see “tabs” for each the three different branches’ own micro-sites. This provide more consistency between the three sites, as well as making sure that you can easily take advantage of all offers, discounts or services which apply to your particular specialist area or areas.

From what I have seen of the MCT and MOS ones (which I am most interested and involved in) they are great little pages full of all the links you need to all the resources you want, and some that you may need and did not even know about.

Included are links to the logo builder pages, how to download or order a certificate, create an online virtual business card or update the profile information which Microsoft holds about you (including which newsletters and updates you receive by email).

This is not a replacement for lots of the resources which already existed, such as Born To Learn, or the MCPeStore, or to view or share your transcript; rather it is a single page to go to which brings links to all those resources together in one place.

Don’t overlook the links at the top of the page directly below the tabs (you can get to these by hovering over each tab, or once you have clicked on a tab the ones for that section stay visible.

If you have ever passed a Microsoft exam and want to continue certification as part of your career or personal development, go and check out the Microsoft Certified Members’ site today.

Microsoft second shot exam offer back again for 2008

It seems that Microsoft have listened to the community and brought back their Second Shot offer much earlier than most people expected. Previously this seemed to run only once each year (albeit for several months at a time), and the last one only closed for taking exams the first time round at the end of May and the retakes by the end of June. Re-opening this in August 2008 and leaving it open right through to June 2009 seems to indicate that this will effectively become a permanent fixture, but you can’t just roll your retakes forward forever, you will have to use the second chance within the year-long programme, which seems perfectly fair.

The same launch page is being used as last time, although until today this was not live for the new offer and still showed the old information.

Microsoft Second Shot Exam Offer 2008

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Why IT design skills are important, and how to measure them

The comments on my earlier post about the MS Security Design exam 70-298 prompted me to add some more general thoughts.

I agree with the comment made that the design exams do generally seem easier in some respects than the straight technical ones, as you don’t need to know the same level of detail of exactly how to do something in terms of making choices in a dialogue box.

On the other hand, the MS design exams do expect you to be able to take in, digest and interpret a load of business and technical requirements (some of the latter may only be implied from the former, some will be explicitly stated). The breadth of this is where the challenge lies in the real world, although the exam will often lead you in the right direction, rather than a blank sheet of paper on which to write an IT security plan. The nature of a computer-based exam does not lend itself to open questions; it would be very hard to make any kind of meaningful sense out of your answer to “How would you improve the security of the data for this organisation? (answer in no more than 200 words)”.

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Passed 70-298 "Designing Security for a Windows 2003 Network"

This morning I took and passed Microsoft exam 70-298 “Designing Security for a Windows 2003 Network”. Having not taken one of these scenario-style design exams before, I was a little cautious even though I was fairly confident of my knowledge of the material.

The first section had 11 questions which was great as I had made loads of notes from the provided fictional case studies, and I sailed through with loads of time to spare. Unfortunately the format of these exams is that the time for each part is independent, so you don’t get to carry any spare time to the next set of questions and use it there. I had a couple of shorter sections where I maybe spent too long reading the materials and answered the last question with seconds to spare.

Overall I found this style of exam to be right up my street; taking in lots of information in a very short time and then applying my technical knowledge to this to come up with solutions to the business issues. Despite the rushed time on a couple of questions I came away with my best score to date on a Microsoft MCP exam, and won’t need to use my second chance to take this.

How do you find these design exams compare to the ‘normal’ technical ones?

Microsoft Exams free second chance offer

Soon you will be able to get a free second shot to pass a Microsoft exam. They have run this kind of offer before and it always seems really popular.

Basically, you register for the deal with Microsoft, which gets you a voucher number. You then use this voucher number when you register and pay for your exam on the Prometric site as usual. If you fail the exam when you take it you can re-register to take the same exam again in a fixed timeframe.

The offer should be available from September 15th until January 31st, though whether that end-date is for the first try or your second attempt is not clear yet.

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