Microsoft Certification Exam Advice

After spending the week working on Exam questions I think that have I much better understanding of what goes into writing test questions for Microsoft Certification exams. This better understanding of the writing process has given me some great incite into what a test taker should be thinking when they take a Microsoft Certification exam. The key hints and incites that I feel I should share are as follows:

  • Don’t infer anything from what you read in the question. All of the information in the Stem / Question is there for a reason. If you assume something you are most likely on the wrong track. We argued about single words, and often times removed entire sentences from questions. If the removal did not affect the answer it stayed out. The shorter the question the better I feel It is, because there is less room to infer.
  • Don’t imply anything. See Don’t Infer. Everything you need to answer the question is there in the questions. The more you analyze the question the further from the answer you might end up.
  • Don’t reach for anything. See Don’t Infer. You should look at each question and think that every piece of information is valid and that it was put there for a reason.
  • Before you take the test verify what version of the product you should assume is being talked about in the questions. For most questions the RTM version of the product is what the question is talking. If another version if talked about in the question it will be specified.
  • If an answer could be right but is not 100% of the answer, then it is not the answer. Always go with the MOST right answer.
  • Before you take the test read the audience description for the test and get in that mind set of the audience. I worked on a test with an intended audience of a technician with 3 years experience managing Exchange. The audience did not plan, and they did not perform design work. The audience was very task oriented and not super global in their thinking. This meant that we tossed out any questions that said you are planning, or you are thinking and such. It means that you need to think in the context of tasks and not think in concepts and design considerations if you take the test that I worked on. Every test has a different audience defined for it as a test taker you should have a deep understanding of who the test thinks you are before you start on the test.
  • All of the distracters or none correct answers; have to be something that is a real working thing. If you see some crazy .ps1 command out there that you think might be made up, it is not, it is a real command that ships with the product.

For me this project has been a great learning experience. If I ever take a Microsoft Certification Exam again I will look at the questions and answers them in a much different way than I would have before. I will answer them based on the hints that I outlined above. One of the more entertaining parts of this project for me is that I actually wrote a book on this test a few years ago. In writing the book I took the test, and did not love it. I think that the test will be much better with the updated questions in it. I know that it will make the book more relevant. Here is a picture of Michelle holding my book trying to act like she is reading it. You can see my name on the cover near her watch. Yes I try to add a picture to all of my posts

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