My Test Experience on Exam 98-361

  • My Experience with the MTA Exam 98-361

    First of all: the Exam is not as easy as propagated. Sometimes you need a deep understanding of core programming and Object-Oriented Design. In my Opinion, sometimes the Questions violates modern Paradigms such as the KISS Principle (Keep it stupid simple). But anyway, you are there to show-off your skills.

    How I learnt for the Exam

    As “recommend” by Microsoft, my first task led me to MeasureUp to do practice tests. That done, I felt prepared for I got 100% Pass several times in “Certification Mode” and “Study Mode”. I felt save. I thought: ok, its mta – its easy. 7 Days to exam. I did “Certification Mode” tests every evening, every time with 100%.

    You should be aware of the following: dont trust the test Results.
    One day before Exam (on Sunday morning) I read the post from qece.yahoo.com at the borntolearn forum. He stated, that the MeasureUp Tests are BS*. Now I was in Panic.

    I searched a lot in the forums and qece.yahoo.com’s answer seemed to be true. Gosh… 24 Hours left to get prepared. The Panic moved to my bones. I don’t got sponsored for the exam – if I fail I have to pay again.
    Searched the Internet for open bookstores. One had open (if you are in Berlin/Germany: the “Dussmann Media House” is opened every day. I had luck: someone ordered the official academic course for exam 98-361 published by Wiley but never picked it up in the store. Hell Yeah, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

    Raced to the store, picked up the book and raced back home. 4pm.
    I just started to study the book. I realized at the first chapter: I AM NOT PREPARED! 200 Pages later ( I skipped the parts where I got my s**t together).
    I worked until 1 am at exam day to get the missing knowledge (better said: understanding) in my head.

    BREAK

    Exam Day

    If your Testcenter is located downtown (like mine) DON’T GET THERE BY CAR! Normaly it took me 25 Minutes to get to the Testcenter Location (I tried that one day before). At Exam day, the city was plagued by traffic jams. It took me 90 Minutes to get to the testcenter. I arrived 10 Minutes before Start. If you do your exam at Prometric Testcenters you should arrive 30 minutes before exam appointment.

    Exam Process

    The Prometric Team was friendly, signed me up quickly and gave me a short brief of the procedure.
    If you do your exam at Prometric: in your appointment confirmation email are some hints about not bringing cell phones or other personal items to the testcenter. Prometric is very serious about that! I had to pull out my pockets, take off my shoes and store everything in a locker. I had to pull of my wedding ring as well (that took another 5 Minutes; ultimately solved by the use of soap). After all you will be scanned by metal detectors. So don’t bring anything to the testcenter. There is no place for cheaters.
    All tests are captured by video and audio – if you talk, you’re out.
    After a short instruction by the instructor you are placed on your computer (crappy, old XP machines with a mouse had seen better days). Follow the instructions on the screen. A Tutorial is provided and highly recommend if it is you first exam.
    After Tutorial your Exam starts – I closed my eyes for approx. 30 seconds and took a deep breath. Let’s get the job done.
    The test was as expected after reading qece.yahoo.com’s post. It was kind of hard. It’s a mix of single Choice, multiple Choice, Sentence Completion and Code Completion. Last one’s was hardest IMHO. Because the Test presents a problem, a partial solution and predefined Items to make up the “correct” Solution. That’s hard for developers. You would, perhaps like me, would solve the problem otherwise – but you are restricted to the given answers.
    You have to answer 35 Questions (or so) in 45? Minutes to get completed. If you get stucked, you can mark the question for review and turn back again at the end of the test. Click on “End” or “Finish” – I cant remember – to finish your exam. At this point, you cant edit your answers. So use your time wisely.
    That’s all ;) At the end of your exam, you get your result immediately (PASSED or FAILED). Check out the Test center by going to your Administrator / Instructor.

    Things you should know about:

    The Wiley Book about the Exam 98-361 is quite good. It gives a very good overview about the objectives. The rest is on MSDN. You have to identify your weaknesses by yourself.

    You should be familiar with following topics:

    • Memory Management: Heap, Stack, “what goes where”
    • Reference Types and Value Types
    • Object-Oriented Design (Polymorphism, Encapsulation, Inheritance and so on)
    • Access Modifiers (specially correlated to  Polymorphism, Inheritance an so on)
    • Databases (special: Database/Entity Design, Normal Forms, SQL in general [it’s up to you to guess the dialect ;) ])
    • Windows Services
    • Windows Applications (MDI, SDI, Event Handling)
    • Windows 8 (Basics) 
    • ASP.NET Web Applications (Event Handling, Lifetime, Session states and so on) [MVC was not asked in my test - but possible]
    • Algorithms – go back to the days where LINQ does not exists ;) Get familiar with Sorting Algorithms.


    Bottom Line:

    You are at your own. The Wiley Book mentioned above gives you a good summary and the MSDN completes the gaps. You will fail if you don’t UNDERSTAND (or being a poor developer if you succeed without understanding). I can’t provide a list to the correct answers nor I want to. After all: get down with the stuff – even if you would do otherwise or have a different approach. So take the exam serious – it’s a benchmark for yourself.
    After all I am feeling great about taking the exam – even if I prepared the wrong way since one day to exam. I passed at first shot – it was hard but not very hard. I am looking forward to exam 70-483 (Programming C#) where I will be better prepared.

    So long,

    Matthias



    Fixed some Typos... perhaps there are some more left. English is not my first Language. Sorry about that.
  • Congratulations !

    I wasn't so lucky on the first nor 2nd shot.  I to studied the Wiley student book, watched MVA videos several times, studied uCertify, studied measure up, took 4 months local college from Monday to Thursday 6 hrs per day, and with almost two years of  tinkering, reading and building pet projects, I wanted to prove myself and test my skills.

    Thank you Microsoft for providing clear instruction on how- to use the products and technologies you have created.  

    Microsoft, you are the best !

    ProgrammingIsFun

    My Computer is Smart !

  • Thank you very much for sharing your experience. I started to study today :)