Tag Archives: exam

My MCSA 2012 upgrade exam experience – MS 70-417

I passed the Microsoft 70-417 exam today; it wasn’t my first attempt. I don’t pursue many Microsoft certifications because I find them to be of questionable value. The use of braindumps is rampant in IT certification, particularly true in the case of Microsoft exams. I feel this is in part due to the ridculous nature of most of the questions. There are always going to be people who simply don’t want to learn, the so-called “paper MCSEs”. But unlike exams from other vendors such as VMware and Cisco, experience with Microsoft’s products has nothing to do with passing their exams. Microsoft’s inability to write decent exam questions is truly baffling to me.

I had many questions that forced me to try and remember where in the GUI certain options were. As an example, think about the advanced NTFS permission list. Is “Create files / write data” before or after “Create folders / append data” in the permission list? You probably don’t know and you surely don’t care. If you do happen to know, it doesn’t make you a better administrator. It doesn’t demonstrate much of anything other than a photographic memory. The 417 exam is loaded with these kinds of worthless questions. Even worse is trying to remember a particular switch for a PowerShell command – that’s why cmdlets are self-documenting.

NTFS permissions

The 70-417 exam is divided into 3 parts, the 70-410 (Install and Configure), the 70-411 (Administering) and the 70-412 (Advanced). My exam had 61 questions and you have to take each section invidually. Once you complete a section, there is no going back. I would never have passed this exam without J.C. Mackin’s Exam Ref 70-417: Upgrading Your Skills to MCSA Windows Server® 2012 and Timothy Warner’s 70-417 videos on CBTnuggets.

I’m normally proud and excited when I pass an exam, but not this time. I mostly feel anger toward the Microsoft Certification team for wasting my time. The exam hasn’t measured my actual skill with Server 2012, all it’s done is measure how well I can remember trivia. I’m happy to have this one behind me. I doubt I’ll look at any more Microsoft exams until this MCSA expires.

VMware Beta Exams

Anybody who has ever taken a VMware beta exam knows the frustration of waiting an inordinate amount of time for your results. I recently had the process explained to me.

VMware sets a minimum number of people who must take the beta before they can begin the initial scoring process. For the VCAP5-DCA, this is 100 people. Since most people aren’t quick to jump in and take the beta in the first week, you’re looking at a minimum of 3+ weeks from the beta release before VMware can start pulling exam data. Once they reach their minimum, the data is sent out to the exam development vendor. A set of people called psychometricians (doctorate level psychologists and statisticians) start their analysis of the exam results. This takes at least a week. The rest of the beta exam results come in during the beta period, they are collected by VMware and analyzed by the psychometricians. VMware then meets with the psychometricians for a several day process where they set the cut score. At this point, the beta exam is now ready for general release. But the betas still need to be rescored, so another week or so goes by.

Although I still find the wait period annoying, at least I have some justification behind it.