Well, It has been a couple of weeks that you didn’t hear from me but I’ve been a bit busy and I wanted to write about something that would be meaningful to you.
I recently project managed an Item Selection Meeting and I thought that this could be a great topic for you to know about. Item selection is the process by which a pool of exam questions is reviewed by subject matter experts for possible inclusion in the pool of questions that could appear on your exam. This meeting is held after we have some statistical/psychometric information. At Item Selection, SMEs discuss problematic items in the light of their statistical performance as well as the comments provided by test takers. Based on this discussion, which is facilitated by the Content Development Manager or our Psychometrician, Liberty, items will be either discarded, modified or retained as is in the final question pool.
Below you have a glimpse of my to do list for the session:
So now that you know my side, next blog post I’m going to ping one of the SMEs and ask him, "Why do you do participate in these meetings?" So stay tuned…
In other news, I went to Cabo San Lucas for the first time last weekend and it was amazing, what a beautiful place. If you have the chance, just go! Don’t think about it.
Images courtesy of yours truly
Anyway, I’m glad to be back and have time to write so I want to leave you with an Unknown quote that inspires me every morning
Talk to you soon!Laura
While working at tech conferences, one of the most rewarding thing for our team is to see an attendee come out of the exam room beaming with pride: "Yes! I passed!" This week at SharePoint Conference 2014, there were many more cheers and high fives around Certification Central. One particular success story stood out.
Meet Abigail, who passed her very first Microsoft exam and became a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) on Wednesday, March 5. For her, that title winning exam was 70-461 on SQL Server 2012. She was ecstatic! We had to wait 'til she was done with her victory dance to get this picture. Abigail had been studying every night for it, with help from one of our MCT Ambassadors, Michael Corkery. We even had to kick her out of the study hall long after closing time.
In her own words: "Most people may get certified for a promotion or to get a better job. For me, I just wanted to prove to myself that I know this stuff, and I can do it!"
Congratulations, Abigail. You did it!
What was the first Microsoft exam you passed? Where were you? Why do you get certified? Share with us in a comment.
Want to start your own MCP journey? Join the Certification Challenge.
Psychomagician and Super Sigma take on the role of myth busters as they explore what passing scores of 700 really mean. Alas, 700 doesn't mean that you have to answer 70% correctly to pass an exam. Want to know what it really means? Watch the video!
Our team is getting ready to head to SharePoint Conference 2014 in Las Vegas. Will we see you there? Here’s what we will be offering you onsite:
All Microsoft certification exams will be offered at 50% off the regular price for registered SharePoint Conference attendees. We're even offering one exam* FREE!
Take advantage of this great opportunity to fulfill your certification requirements at a 50% discount during SharePoint Conference 2014. This opportunity is only available to registered SharePoint Conference attendees – at just $75 USD per exam, it's like getting two exams for the price of one.
PRE-REGISTER FOR EXAMS
*Free MCP Exam: 74-409 | Server Virtualization with Windows Server Hyper-V and System Center
WALK-IN TESTING REGISTRATION
In order to secure your desired testing timeslot, pre-registering for your exams is always preferred – but that doesn't mean you can't register for your exams onsite. Visit us at Certification Central to find out which exams and certification paths are right for you, and register to take an exam.
EXAM PREP SESSIONS
Get ready for your next certification test with these interactive study groups led by MCT Ambassadors onsite throughout the week at SharePoint Conference. Your leaders will guide you through the most desired exams to ensure you're prepared. You'll want to check the session guide for exact dates and times – if you're planning to take an exam (or a few), make sure you fit these into your week.
Exam Prep Session Title
70-410 and 70-417 - MCSA: Windows Server 2012
70-461 - MCSA: SQL Server 2012
70-411 and 70-417 - MCSA: Windows Server 2012
70-412 and 70-417 - MCSA: Windows Server 2012
70-488 and 70-489 - MCSD: SharePoint Apps (SharePoint Server 2013)
70-462 - MCSA: SQL Server 2012
70-331 - MCSE: SharePoint (SharePoint Server 2013)
70-346 and 70-347 - MCSA: Office 365
70-332 - MCSE: SharePoint (SharePoint Server 2013)
70-486 - Developing ASP.NET MVC 4 Web Applications
REPEAT: 70-488 and 70-489 - MCSD: SharePoint Apps (SharePoint Server 2013)
THE STUDY HALL
Not sure you’re ready for that exam yet? Come over to The Study Hall, a dedicated, quiet environment where you will have the ability to study on your own. Have a seat at one of our computer workstations and take a FREE Practice Test, select from hundreds of on-demand training with MVA, or study with one of our MCT Ambassadors – truly the best resources for SharePoint and certification expertise!
JOIN THE TECHNICAL CERTIFICATION FOCUS GROUP
Join an open discussion to help determine the future of Microsoft Technical Certification. We want your feedback on:
Current Developer and IT Professional exams and training
Additional learning resources that would help you master Microsoft solutions
Pathways to earning and maintaining your certifications
Seating is limited, so please sign up for this event at the SharePoint Conference at either:
Microsoft Learning Kiosk - Expo Hall, Microsoft Pavilion
Certification Information Center - Outside Marco Polo Rooms 701/801
Host: Larry Kaye, Senior Product Manager – Technical Certification
Where: Microsoft Exam Prep Room (Venetian Hotel, Marco Polo Room 801)
When: Wednesday, March 5 – 12:15 PM – 1:30 PM
Meet the MCT Ambassadors at #SPC14
We’re honored to have the following Microsoft Certified Trainers join us as Ambassadors for the week, and wish to thank them for contributing their time and expertise:
Guest post by Zeshan Sattar, Microsoft Certified Trainer
It’s Monday morning. This is the first and only chance for me, as a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT), to win over my students. Sure, I’ve said hello to the early comers, told them where they can relax and grab a quick coffee before the rest of the group arrives, but there is still a sense of uncertainty in the air.
There are more than 19,000 MCTs worldwide, and this first-day scenario is typical of every class, everywhere. But my students are special. They’re not IT Professionals, nor have they been working in the industry for any time. They are actually aged between 16 and 18. Most of them have just come out of school and are taking the first steps into an IT career as Apprentices. My goal isn’t just to train them but also to ignite that passion and fire that will make them come back again and again.
With all the students in place, it’s time for introductions. Some of them already know each other. Most are strangers, but what unites them is that they have that underlying adrenaline building up inside, which comes with the desire to learn something new and exciting.
As introductions come round to me, I showcase my eye-chart of Microsoft Certifications—and the mouths drop. When I follow up by saying that this is how their resumes should look by the end of the year, the mouths drop even further.
The expectations have been set high, and now it’s up to me to follow through. It’s true to say that today’s young people are the search and video generation. Both are absolutely fine, but, in my classroom, I need to be more entertaining than a streaming video site. I have to be the fountain of knowledge that is provided by a search engine.
The training experience for these young people has to be of the same quality and standard as I would deliver to Fortune 500 company employees. Of course, it has to be adapted for the age group. The war stories I tell are often from the early days of my career and focus on my mistakes, which the students find funny and will remember as to “what not to do.”
A personalised training experience tailored to the students’ needs and aspirations could be eclipsed by the sheer abundance of knowledge available online. Young people often feel drowned by the amount of information out there, and they get confused with all of the conflicting material. As an MCT, it’s my job to help the students to piece together all these disparate bits of knowledge and to overcome any fallacies.
One of the most rewarding elements of the Microsoft training is getting every student to experience that “light-bulb moment”—the point when all my instruction, stories, demonstrations, and jumping around the room like a nutty professor (which happens constantly) comes to fruition. The student “gets it”—they’re not regurgitating facts or just going through the motions of the week. They actually have learnt something—and want more of it!
As the week draws to a close, there is only one thing left to do: get the students inspired for the Microsoft Certification exam. We begin the students on the Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certifications. This helps to consolidate skills and understanding but is also a perfect vehicle for getting over the nerves of taking certification exams.
With the hard work of assimilating huge amounts of knowledge behind them, it’s now a case of applying it to an unfamiliar situation. Success is almost guaranteed, as students walk out of the exam room with big smiles and a desire to take more exams. For the ones that didn’t quite make the cut, their desire to pass the certification exam grows exponentially.
As farewells take over, the students look forward to their next course. They know that high quality Microsoft training will help them to increase their knowledge and expand their Microsoft certifications portfolio.
As for me, I lock myself away to study for my next Microsoft certification. After all, you learn something new every day! You’re never too old for a light-bulb moment!
Guest post by John Deardurff, Microsoft Certified Trainer
In my 15 years of training, the question I’ve been asked the most is… Why do you teach? The second most asked question is… How did you get so many certifications? (My current total is more than 30 Microsoft Certifications.) To be honest, I would have to give the same answer to both questions: I have a passion for learning.
That passion for learning is not only for my own self-growth, but it also extends to the people who attend my courses. Whether it is the experienced administrator upgrading skills on a new software version or the student who is just starting out in the IT industry, every one of those students is there to learn. By attending my class, each of them is trusting me with their learning and their career.
That is a great responsibility, and I take it as such. I take it as a challenge to stay current on the new products and technologies as they are released. And I take it as a challenge to help those students achieve their own goals.
Which brings us back to all those certifications… Why so many? Well, one of the first things you learn as a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) is that you never stop learning. The one item that ties all MCTs together is that, regardless of our area of expertise, we all specialize in teaching change in technology. And, as technology changes, an MCT needs to update their skills and knowledge.
Now wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way of demonstrating that updated skill and knowledge? Some way of letting students know that you are certified to teach a course? Obviously, I am talking about Microsoft Certification exams. An ongoing joke among my fellow instructors is that we are always five more exams away from being caught up. It can be a grind after you get into the certification cycle. But that feeling when you pass an exam is incredible, and you can’t wait to tell everyone you know. And that’s not to mention the achievement you feel when you add another certification to your transcript.
I am lucky enough to work for the largest Microsoft Learning Partner in the world, where I have been able to explore many new horizons. One of the benefits of working at a Microsoft Learning Partner is the constant support, encouragement, and assistance you receive from the other instructors at your learning center. (This is especially true at the center where I work, in Indianapolis, where each instructor has more than a dozen years of teaching and technical experience.) However, not all MCTs enjoy this immediate relationship with other instructors. I definitely recommend joining many of the online communities available, especially Born To Learn and MCT Central. There is always someone there to answer your questions, to give encouragement, and to lend support.
I know many excellent MCTs who are self-employed. And there certainly is a freedom to being a contractor and to booking your own courses and jobs. However, a contractor also deals with sales, accounting, marketing, and more. The fact that I don’t have to is one of the other benefits I get from working at a Microsoft Learning Partner. I can focus just on learning, teaching, and certification.
But the greatest thing about being an MCT—whether you are a contractor or you work for a Microsoft Learning Partner—is always getting to learn new technologies, explore new products, and meet new people. If you also have a passion for learning, you too have what it takes to be an awesome MCT.
That's right... I said it... Microsoft is NOT trying to trick you! I have been working the our content development managers reviewing the comments that you provide after taking one of our certification exams (yes, we do read them!), and one comment that we see on nearly every exam is that an item(s) is "tricky." So, I want to set the record straight, and I say this knowing that I am likely to create a firestorm of comments from you... we are not trying to trick you. As a psychometrician, I'm very concerned about content on our exams that is tricky. Tricky is bad... tricky items ask about nuances and corner cases that only fanatical users of Microsoft's technologies (or the item writer) would know the answer to off the top of their heads during an exam. They require memorization of obscure facts or trivial pieces of information. They are not written clearly. They do not differentiate the best from the rest because anyone, regardless of their ability, has about the same chance of answering the question correctly and usually that chance is not very good.
However, there is a difference between "tricky" and "difficult," and candidates often confuse the two, calling something "tricky" when it's, in fact, "difficult." Difficult is great. I love "difficult" because these are the items that differentiate the best from the rest. We don't expect all, or even many, candidates to know the answers to those questions, but we include them on our exams because we want earning a certification to mean something...to set you apart from those who don't pass the exam or don't hold the certification. Because they are intended to differentiate candidates, by definition, exams must include difficult content that can be used to set you apart from others. These are questions that are unlikely to be something that the average user of our technologies would encounter in their daily jobs; however, these questions should ask about situations that candidates who really know the ins and outs of the technology may have encountered or, if they did not have that particular experience, they would know enough about the technology to be able to extrapolate the correct answer.
So, every exam should have some questions that are difficult; however, exams should not have questions that are tricky. When you don't know the answer or think that it's something that only a few people would experience, you're likely to think the question is "tricky," and it probably is...to you, but it's not to everyone and should not be for those who are the expert users of our technologies. In fact, our development process ensures that questions are reviewed many times by many different subject matter experts, meaning that we shouldn't have many truly "tricky" questions on an exam. Did you notice that I said "many' instead of "none?" Well, it turns out that there's no such thing as a perfect item, and stuff slips through the cracks. We may have a truly tricky question on an exam, which is why you need to let us know if you think something is tricky and the best way to do this is to provide comments after the exam. But, you need to be specific about what makes it tricky (e.g., no one does it or does it this way; no one would memorize this/know it off the top of their head). When we see comments like this, we have the question reviewed by subject matter experts (SMEs) who may--or may not--agree with your assessment of the item's trickiness. If you were to retake the exam and saw the same question, odds are that our SMEs didn't agree that it was tricky, rather they felt it was difficult--something not encountered or done by most candidates but something that differentiates the best from the rest. And, those questions are great because when you know the answers, they help set you apart from others--exactly what certification is intended to do.
This is where you tell me what you think... I knew going into this blog that this might be a spirited conversation.
Do you recall seeing this subway map? Perhaps at a tech event? It's an awesome roadmap of all of our technical certifications, with the exams clearly mapped to the corresponding Microsoft Official Courseware.
Well, we're proud to announce this fantastic subway map is available as a free Windows 8 desktop app! We're calling this app the "Training and Certification Guide". The interactive subway map is fully clickable; by clicking you will get more details about the technical portfolios: Microsoft Official Courseware, certification exams, etc. Clicking further will then take users to /learning.
A breakdown of keyword guidance is also included to map keywords to our certifications. The app also includes a ‘view as PDF’ option for anyone that wants to print out the pages.
Download the Microsoft Training and Certification Guide onto your Windows 8 or RT device today.
Guest post by Davin Mickelson, Microsoft Certified Trainer
Microsoft’s certification exams can be quite challenging, as everyone who has taken one knows. Usually, most of the other people in the testing room are very respectful. Most do little to attract attention to themselves, and they make it easy to focus on the exam. However, there are those others…
I began taking Microsoft exams 16 years ago, and over time, I have discovered some of the most annoying exam-takers. You’ve probably sat in a room with some of these people—or perhaps you are one of them. (To tell the truth, I, too, have been one or another of these personalities in the past and probably will be in the future.)
By the way, I almost added one more to this list—the Exam Veteran. You can spot her right away. She has been taking technical exams for a few years (and likely also exhibits some of the characteristics on our Top 10 list). She is also the one who adjusts everything before she even takes her seat, including the mouse, mouse pad, monitor, keyboard, and the chair height. She wants to be comfortable for the next couple of hours. OK, guilty as charged. I definitely do this.
Do you recognize any of these characters from your own exam experiences?
The Sicko There's always a guy taking the exam who has a cold and who can't seem to clear his sinuses or throat—especially in the winter. He constantly reminds everyone else that he is suffering—right over there. He is often a “sniffler” on a 30-second loop. If he is a throat clearer, he has to punctuate with a loud "Uh!"
The Exam Whisperer These people drive me batty and are often related to the Victory Yeller. They are so concerned about missing something that they whisper (not necessarily quietly) each and every exam question and each and every answer. This guy makes it very hard to focus on your own exam. It's no wonder that they offer headphones at most testing facilities. Honestly, if I wanted to read it with him, I'd sit next to him.
The Seat Adjuster/Bouncer These people just can't get comfortable. Usually, it's a younger "bouncing off the wall" college student who is constantly adjusting her seat. She's not a seasoned cube dweller, and she hasn't yet learned how to adjust the standard office chair so that her feet don’t dangle. Her nervous look says, "This is office life?" Welcome to the real world, kiddo.
The Whiz Kid Occasionally, there’s a tester seated near you who finishes and gets up to leave—while you’re still on question 17. What kind of exam was she taking? Alphabetize 10 words? Answer five simple questions? I’m always jealous that she finished so quickly!
The Wandering Eye Bored? Scared? What are they looking at? Are they looking at me? Or my test? The odds of any of us taking the same exam are extremely rare. This person is probably just curious. And no, I've never seen anyone kicked out of an exam room for this (or any other) behavior. In fairness, this is just a minor nuisance, so I ignore him and focus on my exam. But if I finish first, I may give him a dirty look on my way out the door.
The Victory Yeller Seriously. You’ve seen this guy. As soon as he sees “You passed the exam” on the screen, he jumps up from his chair, pounds the desk, and yells "Whoo-hoo!" He throws his chair up against the desk and proudly struts out of the testing room. My concentration is completely blown until he leaves the room (and often for a few minutes after that)!
The Writer I don't necessarily blame the exam-taker for this. Some exams require more typing than others. Or perhaps a tester is offering Microsoft some detailed feedback. I have to admit, though, that I find these folks to be a distraction. Mouse-clickers can be annoying too. They often click in a repeating rhythm. But I’m guilty as charged, once again. When I go back to review my answers or when I scroll on tiny screens, I’m a mouse-clicker. The extra noise is definitely a distraction, so I try to keep it down.
The Leg Shaker Somebody drank too much coffee! He is shaking his leg to relax himself. This is usually not a problem unless the chair squeaks along with it. If the floor is not rock solid at the testing center, you may even feel the vibration in your chair or table—or worse yet, your monitor may jiggle. Argh! It’s like taking a test on the high seas!
The Stinker Have you ever ended up sitting next to someone who smoked three packs the previous night (probably studying) and didn't have time to shower before the test? I’ve sat near people who are wearing the scents of their most recent meal. It’s hard to forget these folks if you’re seated next to them.
The Conversationalist If you want to be the target of a lot of angry glares, find a friend in the testing room and start chatting. Once, an acquaintance of mine walked up to me—mid-test—and tried to strike up a conversation. We're not supposed to talk in there! I definitely wanted to disappear.
Unfortunately, I see a little of myself in all of these personalities. You might see yourself in them, too. To be fair, we’re all human and testing can be stressful. But if we put ourselves in the shoes (or the chair!) of the person next to us (well, not literally) and try to be more mindful of causing distractions, testing could be a more positive experience for everyone!
We have a great opportunity for you to learn how we are updating our exam user interface (UI) for a more modern look and feel! We are working hard to create an exam experience that provides the best design for its purpose: to certify people on Microsoft technologies!
We are taking the time to invest in UI changes because, in the long run, it will help us tell a better visual story and make the exam experience better for you! Our resident expert in all things UI, Samantha Lindsey-Ahmed, abides by the idea that "good design is obvious, great design is transparent."
We hope that the changes we make essentially lead to a design that is less noticeable, so you - the candidate - can really focus on the content!
There are three main goals we hope to achieve as we evolve our exam UI. Did you think I was just going to list them!? For that you have to check out the video!
Due to public request this post will be available in Spanish and English. Por pedido del público este post va a ser en Español y en Inglés.
So what did I learn this week? A lot, so below a summary:Bueno, que aprendí esta semana? Muchas cosas así que abajo un resumen:
1. Satya Nadella, our new CEO, is very inspiring. Check it out by yourself in this video
1. Satya Nadella, nuestro nuevo CEO, es realmente inspirador! Mira el video
2. I was assigned to exams 70-484 & 70-485 so I’m the official Project Manager! Yay me!
2. Me asignaron los exámenes 70-484 & 70-485 así que es oficial soy la Project Manager!! Ahora a celebrar!
3. Be always nice to your Business Administrator. They rule the office and they give you candy for Valentine’s Day. Thank you, Laura!
3. Siempre se buena con tu administradora del negocio, manejan la oficina y te da golosinas para San Valentín. Gracias Laura!
4. A friend of mine, Jonathan, reminded me of this quote by Confucius:
4. Un amigo mío, Jonathan, me recordó una buena frase de Confucio que dice: “Elige un trabajo que ames, y no tendrás que trabajar ni un día de tu vida”
Cheerios and talk to you soon!
Saludos a todos y nos mantenemos en contacto!
Greetings, Fellow Developers:
Taking a break from reporting on developer and SQL certification news to share with you my personal certification journey.
I spent the first 10 years of my career as an enterprise developer and enjoyed every minute of it, especially the iterations to tweak the user interface, refactor for reusability, or squeeze out a bit more performance. Since I transitioned to training about 14 years ago, I've spent some time developing lab exercises and helping my students debug their code, but it's not quite the same.
When Windows 8 came out in October 2012, I saw a platform just within my reach, where I could work out those programming muscles again…and, this time, even get my creations in front of users outside of the back office. Over the next few months, the temptation grew too great for inaction, so, in September, I made a commitment to start down the road to earning my MCSD: Windows Store Apps credential.
First, I took stock of my skills. Despite my hiatus from full-time development, I consider myself to be a capable Java developer and thought much could be applied in transitioning to C#. I also have some experience in the mobile space, so many of the concepts for App Store development (e.g., PLM) resonated with me.
Next, I dove into the Programming in C# Jump Start. Watching the eight videos over the course of two weeks, I got a good feel for the key language constructs and how to build and test applications.
Then, even though I wasn't 100% prepared, I took the opportunity to sit for Exam 70-483 while attending the PASS Summit in Charlotte last October. I did fail, but it really turned out to be a great learning experience because I knew what I needed to focus on for my next attempt.
Not wanting to lose momentum, as soon as I left the testing area, I went online and ordered the eBook version of the Microsoft Press Exam Ref 70-483 guide. With chapters and sections having one-to-one correspondence with exam objectives, it gave me the additional structure I needed for my study plan.
While I had hoped to get through the book quickly, the reality of end-of-calendar year professional and domestic obligations set in, and it did take me three months to thoroughly review the material. I read the book cover-to-cover twice, making sure to answer and review the end of chapter questions. (One suggestion - Chapter 1 starts tough with multithreading and asynchronous processing, but don't get discouraged. Any concepts that remain unclear to you in the initial read will be sorted out when you do a second pass through the book).
January came around, along with another conference…and another opportunity to take the exam. This time, I knew I was ready. I sat down at the terminal, took a few breaths, and, shortly thereafter, emerged from the test center with my passing score.
I am proud to add the Microsoft Programming in C# Specialist credential to my title, and am excited to continue down the path to earning my MCSD: Windows Store Apps certification. I'll keep you posted as to my progress, and I hope that you'll consider joining me.
Recently, I created a couple blog posts to inform people about the updates to the Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 exams. These blog posts were only part of the communication plan for how to inform you all of what changes were coming. Just so you all have the information, here is everything we did and some items to note:
Here is the feedback I have received, but want to find out more:
I hope this is helpful and I am looking forward to your feedback!
For those who are regular visitors of Born to Learn, you know about (and likely participated in) the "60 Days to MCSE" and "90 Days to MCSA" peer challenges in previous years. Those challenges were initiated by the MCP community, with support from Microsoft Learning. Along the way, we heard from many who want to get started with other Microsoft certification paths, or need more time to gather information and resources, and still very much want to be part of a community-based challenge.
Today, Melissa Bathum and I are pleased to announce a new and expanded Microsoft Certification Challenge. This Certification Challenge is for everyone who is interested in becoming a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP). It is also for MCPs who are continuing to expand or upgrade their Microsoft Certifications. From now through July 2014, we're assembling training and exam prep resources in one place: study guides, books, videos, discount offers, etc. We'll also bring you expert advice via guest blog posts, discussions, and (soon) a place to showcase your success. To gain access to all this, you just need to decide it's time to get that certification and join the group.
The challenge is simple: achieve your Microsoft certification within 180 days, and you could see yourself featured on Microsoft websites. Make a commitment to yourself. Join the challenge today.
It has been a pretty exciting week in the northwest for many reasons, so a quick post today about it:
We have a new CEO, Satya Nadella! Great news!
Also, I’m working in 2 new blog post, one of them in Spanish so stay tuned….
Cheerios and talk to you soon!
As a practically-native Seattleite (I’ve lived here since I was 2), I would be remiss in not congratulating the Seahawks on their win yesterday!
For this month’s blog, I thought I’d continue the discussion with an MCT on security in our classrooms, and how vital MCTs and students are to the integrity of our certification program. Today’s guest blogger is “self-proclaimed geek” Christopher Harrison. He is the owner of GeekTrainer and a veteran trainer and consultant on technologies such as SharePoint, SQL Server, and web development using .NET.
I asked Christopher for his thoughts on how our MCTs encounter security questions and concerns in the classrooms.
Kerri: One of the most prevalent threats to an exam security program are sites that steal our exams, making them available for a fee (known as brain dumps). Are most trainers aware that these sites exist, or would know how to identify them?
Christopher: I don’t know of a single trainer who doesn’t know about brain dumps, where they are or how to spot them. It is, unfortunately, something that does come up in class periodically.
Q. Do you get questions from students about using brain dumps?
A. I get questions about brain dumps on occasion. Sometimes it will be something very simple, where the student is looking for information about brain dumps and if they’re a valid way to pass an exam.
Q. Do you find that most students are confused about whether they are a legitimate source for study material?
Generally speaking, students know if what they’re using is legitimate or illegal. One thing about the brain dumps is their “marketing” material generally makes it clear they’re selling you real questions.
If questions about brain dumps do come up in class, I generally try my best to educate my students about how to spot these types of sites. Anything that guarantees passing or doesn’t contain official Microsoft logos should be looked at with a great deal of skepticism.
Q. What do you consider appropriate study material for an exam?
MS Press books make great study materials. One thing that Microsoft Learning has done a great job of in recent years is publishing study guides. Generally speaking those are the books I direct my students to. I also point students at the official exam site, and the objective domain for the exam. I like to point out that to a certain extent Microsoft has told you everything that is going to be on the exam. If you read the list of topics covered and you don’t feel like you know all of the material listed there then you will need to go back to studying.
Q. What do you say when someone wants to use a brain dump?
I generally try to make three points when someone brings up a brain dump. First, I discuss the legality of brain dumps. If a test taker is discovered using a brain dump they can have their certification revoked. [Note from Kerri: Our exam policy confirms this.]
Second, I like to point out that if they’re using a brain dump then what have they accomplished? Anyone can pass a test if they know the answers in advance, so really – what would the certification gained via brain dumps really mean?
Finally, I tell students that this is something I take very personally and seriously as it devalues my certification. One problem with someone cheating the exam is they’re given the exact same certification I’ve worked for, without knowing the material. When people who have cheated the exam are revealed for not having the knowledge the certification says they possess, others wonder what the certification actually means and don’t give it credence. That impacts me.
Q. Do you think it’s fair that Microsoft considers use of a brain dump cheating?
Absolutely. Certification in any technical profession is there to prove you have a set of skills. If people are able to see the questions and answers in advance their skills aren’t actually being validated.
Q. Do you think the prevalence of brain dump sites is getting worse, better, or about the same when you started teaching?
I think it’s about the same. Certification is valuable and people are willing to invest in it as it can advance their career. Unfortunately there will always be a black market for people looking to obtain the certification without having to do the work.
Q. Use of brain dump material is a violation of Microsoft’s exam policy. Would you report one of your own students if you suspected they were using brain dumps? Why or why not?
That’s a great question. I’m honestly not sure. I do know that a student talking about brain dumps does put me into a very uncomfortable position.
Q. Do you know how to report someone you believe is or has cheated?
I do. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. What do you think Microsoft should do about students who use brain dumps?
Quite simply, revoke their certification. Captain Kirk cheating the Kobayashi Maru makes for a nice little plot line in Star Trek, but someone cheating an exam is simply wrong.
Q. Do you think Microsoft is doing enough to educate students on what brain dumps are, or why they shouldn’t use them?
I do. And I think these types of posts are a great way to do that.
Thank you Christopher! You can find out more about Christopher at his blog, GeekTrainer.
Got a tip for me? Let me know at email@example.com.
This is Laura, I’m the new gal on the Microsoft Learning Assessment and Certification Exams (ACE) Team. So I’m basically the last to join the blog wagon but I thought it would be fun if you joined me on my journey as I learn what I’ll be doing here at Microsoft Learning Experiences.
I’m a Project Manager for the ACE team; in short, I help ship certifications out of the door to you. Now, in reality, this sounds super simple, right? Well, not so much. Microsoft is extremely serious about ensuring that our exams are available to candidates as soon as the technology is available and that they remain up to date and valid over time. That means that my job gets complicated in a sea of project schedules, vendors, etc. which is sometimes extremely overwhelming and scary as a new hire.
What am I looking in this job? Well, the picture will tell you what is my aspiration…
(Image from it-is-a-black-and-white-world)
Now about me, things I like: family, dogs, shopping, reading, traveling, eating out, dancing, shoes and purses…There is a say that says that a picture is worth more than a thousand words so below a couple of snapshot that would tell you more:
One of my passions (image from StyleCaster)
OK, I don’t want to bore you with my ramblings but I do have one ask from you since I’m hoping we can learn together. Drop me a comment and tell me what you want to know: Are you curious about something that we do in Microsoft Learning Experiences? Do you like videos? Pictures? Hablamos español? Yo también! In summary, all comments are welcome!
Check out the best of bloopers reel from Psychomagician and Super Sigma's first few dabbles in filming.
Everyone knows that all superheroes have their weaknesses, right? Come on, Superman is powerless against Kyrptonite… and what about Woleverine? You know he doesn’t stand a chance against magnetic fields. The Human Torch can’t thrive in non-oxygen environments, and Iron Man is helpless against electro-magnetic pulses. Just to name a few!
Well as you might have suspected, there is A LOT of hard work that goes into making the ACE Chronicles look flawless. In fact, there is a whole team behind Psychomagician and Super Sigma that makes sure that the cameras are recording, the sound quality is good, and that the lighting figures our favorite super heroes only in the best light.
Sometimes, typically on any day that ends in ‘y,’ it can be a bit tough in the studio – for everyone involved. Psychomagician casts the wrong spell, Super Sigma’s brain gets fried with all the languages she speaks, and well, we just plain make mistakes.
So, for all you fans out there, enjoy the absolute best of times – the first of probably many, many more – bloopers reel of the ACE Chronicles!
We’ve been hard at work putting together Microsoft Virtual Academy's (MVA) first week-long virtual conference. It’s Windows Azure Week - it's FREE and it kicks off on January 27. Have you been wondering about what’s new in Windows Azure? Are you looking for some guidance on how you can get started using Azure with the apps you’re already building? We’ve got the experts from the product group who are building Windows Azure to give it to you directly in live broadcast sessions all week. Here’s the plan for the week:
We couldn’t be more excited about our first Azure Week virtual conference.Register today! (it's free! to everyone! even your mom!)
As many of you know, I love "year in review" retrospectives, so my holiday gift to all of you is my annual summary of what happened in the world of exams from a numbers perspective. Without further ado, let’s take a look back at 2013:
So, those are the highlights from an exam publication perspective, but this year, I thought it might be more fun to talk about what I did in 2013. If you know me, you know I love to talk about what I do…
Wishing you an awesome 2014! And, just for fun... a picture of me on my favorite hike from 2013 with the best dog ever!
Is your company's data weighing you down or is it helping you drive smart strategy for your business? If your data isn't core to decisions in product development, forecasting, operations, inventory, marketing and sales, it may be time to rethink your data strategy. What some organizations consider a headache to keep in check (security and PII management, sifting through relevant vs. detracting information), others are using as a core strategy tool that no business professional on top of their game would be without.
As technology evolves and opportunities arise, the amount of data that businesses are entrusted with is growing at an astonishing rate. Friend or foe, data must be managed, as trusted MCT and principal at Sourcedev Rachel Jones explains. Make sure that your organization is positioned to profit by having a smart data management and IT talent plan.
I'd love to hear how we're doing in helping prepare you for your "big data" career/challenges.
A few months back we let you all know that we are updating our exams to cover Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2 and System Center 2012 R2. Well, the day is approaching quickly when the updates will be seen in the exams. In just under 3 weeks, on January 28th, you will see the updated content in the exams.
I am working on getting all our webpages updated to include this information for all of you, but here are a few more key pieces of information:
1. Exams being updated on January 28th you can review the exam detail pages and download the document outlining the changes:
NOTE: Upgrade exam objectives will follow the changes shown in the full exams. For example, exam 689 changes follow the changes in exams 687 and 688.
2. Training Content being updated as follows:
Instructor Led Courses
Microsoft Virtual Academy
3. Exam name changes
If you didn't already notice, we have changed the exam names for the Windows 8 exams. The names now include 8.1 and we changed one of the exams from Managing and Maintaining Windows 8 to Supporting Windows 8.1. The certification names remain the same.
Let me know if you have any questions.
Guest post by Barbara Norfleet
You may have already noticed—the member sites for our three certified professional tracks (Microsoft Certified Professional [MCP], Microsoft Certified Trainer [MCT], and Microsoft Office Specialist [MOS]) have been refreshed with a new look and feel to coordinate with that of our www.microsoft.com/learning sites. Members will benefit from the synergy between the sites and the common site navigation. Research and plan your next steps toward certification with easier access to the information you need.
Also, the new design is both eye-catching and practical—the page adapts to your device—so using it on your phone, tablet, or other device just got easier!
The main menu contains links to Microsoft training, certifications, exams, professional development opportunities, and more.
All of your benefits are still available in the new, upgraded format. Look for quick links to the most popular benefits: accessing your transcripts, getting certificates, and connecting to the Certification Planner. And explore the scrolling list of the most recent announcements.
You’ll also find links to the other benefits and certification information you count on. We continue to seek out and partner with other groups to bring promotional offers to our Certified Professionals, so be sure to check them out, and stay tuned for updates!
Explore! Enjoy! Let us know what you think! We look forward to hearing from you!
To stay aligned with how developers build Web applications, the Microsoft Learning Experiences team is making a few exciting updates to the MCSD: Web Applications certification:
1. CHOICE: Web application development often requires a combination of programming languages for implementation, so students now have a choice of two exams to fulfill the language requirement (Step 1) for earning the MCSD: Web Applications certification:
The added flexibility provides a convenient path for desktop and enterprise developers transitioning to cloud computing.
2. COVERAGE: The past year has seen Web application development evolve with the use of technologies such as ASP.NET MVC5, WebAPI2, Entity Framework 6, Azure Portal, and Visual Studio 2013. To help students stay current, the following exams will be updated in March 2014:
At least one month prior to the update, details on the original and revised exam objectives will be made available for review in the Skills Measured section of each Exam Detail web page.
Also in March 2014, recertification options for maintaining the MCSD: Web Applications credential will be made available.
3. CONVENIENCE: We recognize that developers rely on self-study materials to stay current with technology. So, in addition to instructor-led courses, we've grown our developer library of recorded video training on Microsoft Virtual Academy. Here are the most recent offerings to help students prepare for the updated Web application development exams:
One of my favorite parts about the year end is looking back over the year and finding the key moments that made the year great. These moments are often converted into “top 10” lists that are always fun to read (or watch). With that in mind, Super Sigma and I reviewed the videos we shared with the community in 2013 and identified 5 key messages that we want to remind candidates of as we leave 2013 and move into 2014. What made the top 5 list? Watch and see if you agree.
By the way, I think we may have missed the most important moment—launching ACE Chronicles, of course! This was certainly a defining moment for us… and one of my best memories of 2013!
Wishing you all a safe, prosperous, and happy new year! Good luck with your exams, and we’ll see you in 2014!
MERRY NEW YEAR!!! (For all of you movie buffs, name that movie! It's a throw back!)