My Certification Journey - Part 3 (There and Back Again)

My Certification Journey - Part 3 (There and Back Again)

Larry Kaye - MSL

Well…I did it.  Two days ago, I passed Exam 70-485: Advanced Windows Store App Development Using C# and completed my requirements to earn the MCSD: Windows Store Apps Using C# certification.

 

Of course, I'm elated - this achievement makes it to my Top 10 list of professional goals - but I'm also, quite frankly, exhausted.  You see, it took me three attempts to make it across the finish line.  And, to get there, I not only had to keep up my resolve to finish the task while juggling a full work schedule, but also had to go deep, deep, DEEP in my use of exam prep resources to get there.  Here's a summary from my "travel" journal:

 

Log entry: 12-Mar-2014

Just passed Exam 70-484. Can't slow down now, with my cert goal in sight.  Downloading the 70-485 Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) Jump Start videos this evening to put the exam objectives in context of real app development.

 

Log entry: 07-Apr-2014

Finished reviewing the MVA videos and purchased the 70-485 Exam Ref Guide to go deep into the details behind the exam objectives.

 

Log entry: 18-Jun-2014

Finished my first full read of the Exam Ref Guide, and going back through to highlight key points.   Scheduled my exam for 7-July to keep me motivated.

 

Log entry: 07-Jul-2014

Ready to go, but ran into some test center issues, so need to re-schedule the exam for 30-Jul.  Taking advantage of the extra time to begin working manually through the coding samples to help develop "muscle memory" for program structure and API calls.

 

Log entry: 30-Jul-2014

Unfortunately, I missed passing by a few questions.  Immediately scheduled retake for tomorrow.  With a limited study window, took advantage of available practice test to focus my studies on weakest areas reported on the score report.

 

Log entry: 31-Jul-2014

Good news - incrementally improved my performance in trouble areas on the exam.  Bad news - dropped my score in some other areas that I thought I had mastered.  Clearly, there are still a few concepts I'm not grasping, so, I need to get some additional perspective on them.  I have a few weeks before I can reschedule the exam, so I'm using my Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) access to review the materials from Course 20485.  I'd prefer to sit in on the full training to benefit from the instructor's implementation experience, but cannot fit that into my schedule right now.

 

Log entry: 18-Aug-2014

Success - passed with comfortable margin!  Review of the course materials really helped me address those trouble areas.

 

So, there you have it, friends and colleagues.  A 10-month journey to MCSD, truly filled with learning experiences along the way.  If I may offer some advice:

  1. Don't ever give up.  Set study milestones and dates, and don't let an exam fail (or two) stand in the way of your goal.
  2. Use the full range of available exam prep resources.  MVA Jump Starts, Exam Prep guides, practice tests, instructor-led training, independent hands-on use of the software products and even taking the exams when not fully prepared each serve a purpose, providing you with different perspectives to master the required knowledge.

 

What's next for me?  Well, I have two new goals in mind:

  1. Apply the knowledge gained through MCSD to start building my own Windows Store apps.  Fate must be on my side, because, when I celebrated my success on Monday with a trip to my favorite used bookstore, I found a copy of the exact toy I planned to turn into my first published app, so bought it for research purposes. (tune into a future Born To Learn blog entry to find out more!)
  2. Augment my skills as an app developer by earning one of our newest certifications on Microsoft Azure development.  (I'll talk to this in more detail in a future blog entry, as well.)

Comments
  • Holly Dickson - Microsoft
    |

    Congratulations, Larry!  Huge achievement! Have you added your shiny new MCSD certification to your LinkedIn profile?

  • Larry Kaye - MSL
    |

    @Holly - thanks!   Just waiting for my reminder email from the LinkedIn team, as Microsoft Learning has collaborated with LinkedIn to let newly certified candidates know about this great way to share their success.

  • Veronica Sopher - Microsoft
    |

    Way to go, Larry! Congratulations on completing your MCSD challenge!

  • Sidney Andrews - MCT
    |

    You should definitely blog about the reminder e-mail and integration with LinkedIn.  I knew about the collaboration, but not that specific feature.

  • Larry Kaye - MSL
    |

    @Sidney

    Carrie Francey, Senior Director of the Sales, Marketing & Programs team, blogged about the exciting LinkedIn program a few months back.  Here's the link:

    borntolearn.mslearn.net/.../announcing-a-new-way-to-add-microsoft-certifications-to-your-linkedin-profile.aspx

    Larry

  • djonatan98.gmail.com
    |

    Tell me the exam and what the best fit for the program MCSA - I decided to go to the development of server applications and correspond to C ++ for these purposes-?

  • Larry Kaye - MSL
    |

    @djontan98.gmail.com - At this point it time, the closest applicable certification is our MCSD: Windows Store Apps using C#.  As we move towards Universal Apps, skills validated in this certification will be applicable to mobile, desktop, and enterprise application development.

  • Mohamed A. Sayed
    |

    Congratulations Larry! Your journey has powered me up to continue in my certification path. I'm a few steps away from taking the last exam in the MCSD and I hope to pass it peacefully. But I'd like to know the structure of this final exam and what kind of questions it includes.

    Many thanks,

  • Larry Kaye - MSL
    |

    @Mohamed - Thanks and glad that my story inspired you.  Unfortunately, just like any individual taking an exam, the Non-Disclosure Agreement prohibits me from discussing any details regarding the exam.  My suggestion to you is to take advantage of all the exam prep materials you can: the MVA Jump Start. MS Press Exam Prep guide, practice test, and (budget-permitting) the instructor-led training.

    Good luck and let us know more about your experience.

    Larry

  • Mohamed A. Sayed
    |

    @Larry - Thanks a lot I'll do my best. Then I'll be back to tell my story

  • Mohamed A. Sayed
    |

    And I'm back.......and ya I did it woooooooow. It was actually nine months till I passed the exams. But when I checked my mcp account to see my status, I found that I already passed the three exams (marked in green) but the MCSD label still in gray (incomplete). Is there another step after the 3rd exam to gain the certificate??

  • Larry Kaye - MSL
    |

    @Mohamed - Exam results and earned certifications can take up to a week or so to show up on your transcript.  Please check your transcript and the certification planner website early next week and let me know if you don't see your certification by that time.

    Larry

  • Mohamed A. Sayed
    |

    @Larry - You were right. I came back to check my profile and found my certification active.

    Thanks a lot.

  • Larry Kaye - MSL
    |

    @Mohamed

    Glad to hear and congratulations, once again.