As you may recall, I participated in a webinar interview with Greg Shields from Pluralsight in December. You had a lot of questions that I didn't have time to answer, so I'm answering them in a series of ACE NewsBytes because, you know, why not?
In our first installment, we answered your questions related to exam preparation and alignment of learning content to exam content. In this installment, we will be discussing question types and answering these questions:
Have you seen either of these two new question types on an exam yet? What did you think? Let me know in the comments section below.
What else do you want to know? Your questions will be answered!
Hit "play" to watch this ACE NewsByte:
If you're looking for more expert insights and tips for preparing for a Microsoft exam, please be sure to check out our first question and answer session here.
You may have seen me mention this in a few other blogs or in recent ACE NewsBytes that I was interviewed by Greg Shields for Pluralsight at the beginning of December. It just occurred to me that while I have mentioned this in several different places, I have never actually blogged about the interview itself. Silly me!
This was a spontaneous interview--in other words, Greg didn't give me a heads up on the specific questions that he would be asking, and many of them grew organically from our conversation and the responses that I provided to his first questions. In our preparation, he gave me the basic outline for what he'd like to discuss and then asked if anything was off limits. My response "Nope. If I can't talk about it, I'll tell you what I can and why I can't share any other details." Mostly what I can't talk about are topics related to privacy issues and information Microsoft considers proprietary (e.g., passing rates, volumes, number of people with a particular certification), but I can talk about nearly everything else in the space of exam development, program design, item writing, statistics, how we manage the rapid pace with which technology is changing, etc. All of these topics and more came up during this interview, and I have a feeling that the people who tuned in learned a few things that they didn't know about how Microsoft designs and develops our exams and certification requirements to stay relevant to our candidates, how we pilot test new item formats, the difference between a certificate and certification program and what that means in terms of the alignment between exam and learning content.
Are you curious? Check out the webinar:
I love doing this stuff. I love answering your questions. I had a lot of fun and hope to do something like this again. If you have questions, please ask them. If you want me to speak to your students or your colleagues or ???, I'm totally onboard. Let me know...
Did you hear the news? In this ACE NewsByte, Briana and I discuss our new MCSE certification for those who are interested in Enterprise Devices and Apps! To earn this certification, you need to take and pass:
Interested? Register at: https://www.microsoft.com/learning/en-us/exam-70-695.aspx and https://www.microsoft.com/learning/en-us/exam-70-696.aspx.
We are also pleased to announce a straightforward path to upgrade to your MCSA Windows 8. If you hold an XP certification, you can migrate to MCSA Windows 8 certification by passing exam 692: Upgrading Your Windows XP Skills to MCSA: Windows 8. Isn't about time that you did?
In December, I participated in a webinar interview with Greg Shields from Pluralsight. We had great participation and a lot of questions from the audience. Although I was able to answer some of those questions, I wasn’t able to answer all of them in the time that we had. I asked the faciliator of the webinar to send me your questions so I could answer them over a series of NewsBytes. In this series, Briana will "interview" me by asking those questions that were submitted by participants.
In the first installment, we will be discussing exam preparation. In this video, I will be answering these questions:
So, I admit... the video is a bit long because we have a lot of great exam preparation tips, but you really want to watch to the end... Why, you ask? Because I will let you in on a little secret...I explain why there can be a disconnect between our learning options and exam content and what are we doing to ensure better alignment between them going forward.
Got more questions? You know I love to answer them so leave them below!
A few months ago, I posted a blog post where I had the audacity to say that exams could be "fun." Based on some of your reactions, "fun" was clearly not the best word to use. I meant that exams should be challenging in a good way--in my own experience, a good challenge is something fun, but this is not true for everyone. More specifically, what I was trying to say was that when you complete an exam (whether you pass or fail), you should feel a sense of accomplishment. You should feel that you were tested on the right skills in ways that fairly and effectively evaluated whether or not you have those skills. Even more, we want to create an “engaging” experience by using question types that require you to think in ways similar to how you would have thought had you faced that problem in the real world (even if you personally would not or have not experienced that particular problem).
But, your reaction to the word “fun” creates an interesting question for me. Across the certification industry, the notion of “gamification” is taking hold. It is becoming more common in training, and it’s only a matter of time before it finds its way into certification. Because it requires immersive, interactive technologies, gamification enables new forms of engagement, personalization, and assessment within training and, possibly, within exams. Games have become a medium for giving students engaging experiences in areas where it might be otherwise impossible in terms of training… why couldn’t it be used to change the face of certification exams? Imagine an exam that simulates your experiences as an ITPro or Developer in an organization as a game like experience. As you make decisions on how to solve problems, the parameters of the game change to reflect those decisions. As you complete easier tasks, the tasks become more challenging.
Don’t get me started on the psychometric challenges of implementing the level of personalization for exams because this will be extremely complicated…but imagine a world where this is not an issue, what do you think of this idea? Do you see an opportunity for gamification within our certification exams? How do you think it can/will play a role in a certification context?
In this ACE NewsByte, Briana and I highlight some really awesome program updates that YOU need to know about!
First, we have updated the Certification and Training Roadmap to reflect changes we've recently made to the program (e.g., electives, new Azure exams, new certifications, etc.)... this includes updating the associated app, which you can get from the Windows Store today (updates will be complete shortly).
Second, we want let you know of several really cool MCP benefits that were recently announced in case you missed them:
Finally, have you heard of the Know It. Prove It. campaign? Throughout February, challenge yourself to learn a new skill in one of eight areas, including cloud development, game development, Office365, and SharePoint.
We hit the highlights in this video! Watch and get excited about training, certification, challenging yourself to do more, and being (or becoming) a MCP!
[Update]: A new version of the certification roadmap has been uploaded on March 5, 2015!
We’re excited to announce we've updated the Skills and Certification Roadmap, which has been revised to reflect the latest skills development and certification information. This popular resource provides a one-stop-shop for certification pathways. The updates include the new Devices MCSE, Azure exams and exam electives. You can download the roadmap as PDF here.
We’re also updating the Training and Certification Guide app to reflect the updated information. Watch for an announcement on that soon!
Download the FREE certification roadmap:
We are making some changes to exam times that should make it easier for you to plan for your exams. For those of you who are transitioning from a previous version of our technology to the newest and do this through our upgrade process, we are also making a change to how time is allocated during upgrade exams. Want to know more? Of course, you do!
Check out this ACE NewsByte where Briana and I discuss how we're standardizing exam times by "type" and the change we've made in the way time is allocated during upgrade exams...
Exam time varies based on the type of exam you take.
MTA exams delivered by Certiport
MTA exams delivered by Pearson VUE
MCSA exams and exams not specified elsewhere
MCSE exams, any exam with case studies, and upgrade exams
As for upgrade exams, we are no longer timing each component exam separately. The time you see for upgrade exams in the table above is the time you get for the entire exam rather than having it split between the component exams. For example, on 417, rather than having 50 minutes to complete 410, 50 minutes for 411, and 50 minutes for 412, you will have 150 minutes to do use as you wish. You might choose to spend 60 minutes on 410 and less time on 411 and 412 components.
What's the difference between seat time and exam time? Want to know why we made the change to the timing of upgrade exams? Watch the video to learn those bytes.
Have you heard about Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA)? On it, you’ll find hundreds of online Microsoft training courses delivered by experts designed to help you learn the latest technologies and build your skills.
Did you know that something new is released almost weekly? Well, Briana and I thought that it might be helpful to hit some highlights every quarter so you know what's new. Check out this ACE NewsByte for our first MVA "roundup."
And, by the way, all of this content on MVA is FREE!
I know you've been waiting on pins and needles in great anticipation, wondering when I would post my annual "year-in-review" blog post. Well, the wait is over! Let’s take a look at what happened in 2014 in the world of certification exams:
And, more importantly, what did I do this year? Here are the highlights:
Wishing you an awesome 2015! And for fun and for your viewing pleasure, a picture of me doing my favorite thing with my favorite people.
Updated on Dec 23 with new promo codes!
A few weeks ago, I blogged about the new Enterprise Devices and Apps MCSE. The new MCSE exams are currently in beta, and I’m inviting you to take them at no charge! Free seats are limited, available on a first come, first served basis, AND you must take the exam before December 29, 2014! You can take one or both of the exams, but remember – during the beta stage you can take each exam only once. You can take the exams at a Pearson VUE test center or via online proctoring (participating countries only).
Here’s what you need to do:
Exam 695 Deploying Windows Devices and Enterprise Apps
To register for exam 695 go to https://www.microsoft.com/learning/en-us/exam-70-695.aspx
Use promo code VITOMVP when prompted for payment at the payment screen
Update: Use promo code VITO
Exam 696 Managing Enterprise Devices and Apps
To register for exam 696 go to https://www.microsoft.com/learning/en-us/exam-70-696.aspx.
Use promo code VITIMVP when prompted for payment at the payment screen
Update: Use promo code VITI
To take advantage of this opportunity, please register immediately in order to take advantage of the promotional code. Registrations via promo code are available on a first-come first-served basis.
Because these exams are in beta, you will not know immediately if you passed the exam. Once the beta period is over, the exams will be scored and your results will be available.
A final note – the promo codes cannot be used in India, China, Pakistan, or Turkey.
I hope you take advantage of this great opportunity! Good luck on your exams!
Did you hear the news? In this ACE NewsByte, Liberty and I discuss two new Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) exams and highlight their availability. Additionally, we talk about upcoming exam retirements and our recommendations either to complete those exams and earn certifications before they retire or to choose a new MTA path.
I haven’t blogged since I transitioned into the Academic Team within Microsoft Learning Experiences, and I am happy to be back! It’s ironic that one of my posts is about MTA certifications, but they are designed for the student audience, so I guess it all comes full circle.
Our new MTA exams support the core areas of study within IT Academy—Computer Science and IT Infrastructure. And IT Academy offers numerous resources to help students prepare for these certifications, including lesson plans, Microsoft Official Academic Course (MOAC) information, Microsoft Press study guides, online learning, and more.
Curious? To find out more about these two new exams, check out the NewsByte!
Out with the old and in with the new! We are doing our best to keep the MTA certifications current and to test on trending new technologies. Given the new additions and to round out the program, we will retire a few exams on July 31, 2015:
Remember that you still have time before these exams retire but, depending on where you are in your certification journey, you might want to consider pursuing a different MTA exam instead.
So make sure to check out our most recent NewsByte to learn which exams we recommend and to find out about two brand new exams coming soon. Stay in the know about these new exams, and be one of the first to take one or both of them. For more information, check out the MTA page on the Microsoft training and certification site!
In September 2014, we announced the beta period of online proctored exams in the U.S. Hundreds of candidates have tried out the experience, and many more outside the U.S. have asked when online proctoring will be available in their countries. We share your excitement and have good news for you today.
Starting December 16, 2014, more Microsoft customers will be able to take advantage of the online proctoring option when registering for Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) and Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) exams. Through our partnership with Pearson VUE, we are expanding the beta availability of online proctored exams to twenty (20) additional countries this December, with more to follow in 2015.
The list of countries included in this December 16 expansion:
In this episode of ACE NewsByte, Briana and I walk through what to expect if you decide to take an online proctored exam. Based on the feedback that we've received, we highlight the four most important steps you can take to ensure a smooth online proctoring experience from your home or office. Watch the video below and find out what those four steps are.
Have you taken an online proctored Microsoft exam? Let us know what you think! You can also read about MCP/MCT Mike Bazarewsky’s firsthand experience in his recent blog post. We can only make this experience great if you tell us what you like and don't like about it, so leave a comment here!
For more information about online proctoring, such as system requirements and testing protocol, please visit https://microsoft.com/learning/op.
Do I have your attention? I hope so, because I'm about to reveal the secret sauce that is critical to the success of the certification program and exam development recipe.* Ever wondered about any of the following?
If you have, Greg Shields will be interviewing me on December 11 at 11:00 am MST. I don't know exactly what Greg will be asking me--I won't have the questions in advance--but these are the topics that I suggested for our conversation. Who knows what he'll ask me!? The only way to find out is to attend the webinar.
Here are the details:
Webinar Title: The science behind the MCSE: An interview with Liberty Munson, Principal Psychometrician for Microsoft Technical Certification
Date and Time: December 11, 11:00 am MST
Register for this event!! http://ww2.pluralsight.com/The-science-behind-the-MCSE
I'll "see" you there!
*So... I love baking and have been making a lot of cookies for the holidays... secret ingredients are on my mind, and yes, you should try my cookies!
Recently, a MCT posted the following questions in the MCT forum. Because I think there's value in sharing the answers with a broader community, I thought I'd post them here as well. I'm always happy to answer questions, so please let me know what's on your mind!!
From the MCT: I would like to know how do you answer (as a MCT) to specific types of questions about the exams.
Are we allowed to, for instance, tell the students:
For a look at exam security related questions from a trainer’s perspective, see Kerri Davis’ interview with MCT Rachel Jones. https://borntolearn.mslearn.net/btl/b/weblog/archive/2013/12/02/security-in-the-classroom-an-mct-perspective.aspx