Ask an MCT: Advice for Newbies from Armando Lacerda

Veronica Sopher - Microsoft

Those of you who are participating in our Certification Challenge are familiar with our online study groups here on Born To Learn. Many Microsoft Certified Trainers (MCTs) volunteer their time and expertise by moderating the study group forums, and we want to introduce them to our broader community with a series of interviews on our blog.

To kick off the series, please meet Armando Lacerda. Armando has years of experience training database professionals and helping them prepare for Microsoft Certification exams, and we’re excited to have him share his knowledge with you here!

1. When did you first become a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP)? How many IT certifications (Microsoft and others) do you hold?

My first certification is in Visual Basic 4.0, which I earned way back in 1996. Today, I hold more than 60 certifications, mainly from Microsoft, but I have some Oracle Certified Professional (OCP) certs under my belt, as well.

2. What is one thing about taking a Microsoft exam that a first-time candidate might find surprising?

I hear a lot of first-time candidates saying, “The questions were surprisingly simple,” and, in the same breath, “I don’t see how I failed it.” The gap is that the questions in the exams are not focused on the candidate’s everyday activity on the job, but rather on the main (read: most important) features of the product.

3. What’s a common mistake that first-time candidates make when preparing for Microsoft exams?

I always tell my students to pay attention to the gaps, meaning the areas on the exam’s objective domain which they don’t play with very often (or at all). Overlooking them—or not spending hands-on time testing these features—is a common mistake that blows candidates away when taking the exam.

Another common mistake that candidates often make is to fight the answers. Time and time again, I’ve seen candidates fighting the possible options, saying, “I wouldn’t do it in any of these ways!” My advice is not to do this. The point is not how you would do it but rather which option(s) accomplish the result. Don’t let the sudden approach distract you. Don’t fight the question. Focus on the topic and on the subtle variations of the possible answers.

4. What’s your advice for IT professionals who are interested in pursuing Microsoft Certifications but don’t feel that they have the time?

Every investment requires some sacrifice. So here is my advice: make time. We have to make time not just to read good books but also to have hands-on experience. We have to make time to mess around with the product.


Thanks to Armando for taking the time to share his insights with us in this first post in our “Ask an MCT” series. Be sure to watch for more posts and useful insights from our MCTs in the future! 

Do you have a Microsoft Certification exam preparation question you’d like answered? Leave it in the comments section, and we may use it in future posts.

Want to connect with Armando? Find his profile on Born To Learn.