Tags: a+, CompTIA
So a few months ago…after much arm twisting…I had the “opportunity” to host an A+ Webinar. (The term opportunity is in quotes because anyone who knows me knows that I get very nervous when speaking to a group, whether live or virtual, and I hate my recorded voice.) Well, the Webinar went off without a hitch…That is, unless you consider my very southern accent as a “hitch.”
The video of that Webinar is available now. So if you’ll pardon my southern accent, agree NOT to count the number of times I say UMMM, and ignore the long pauses, here’s your chance to learn more about the new 800-series A+ exams:
Hope you enjoy it!
Tags: exam retakes, second shot
If you have purchased a single-exam voucher with Second Shot from Microsoft or a learning partner, be aware that the program expires May 31, 2013. Both your initial exam and, if necessary, your free retake should be completed before that date.
If you haven’t scheduled your exam already, consider this your warning bell. Last-minute seats may fill up fast at some of the larger Prometric testing centers. However, you only have to wait 24 hours between your first and second test retake.
Microsoft is offering a slightly different deal for those who bought three-exam packs instead of single exam vouchers. The three-pack deal gives you 15% off your certification, free exam retakes, and an extended deadline of December 31, 2013 to complete your initial exams and free retakes. You will be able to purchase these three-in-one vouchers until May 31.
For more information, here’s the Second Shot page: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/second-shot.aspx#fbid=LS1Kv09tZQS
Tags: CompTIA, Performance-Based Testing
Our in-house CompTIA product developer, Robin Abernathy, was among the experts interviewed in a recent article published on CompTIA’s IT Careers Blog.
The article, How to Prepare for Performance-Based Questions, brought together a variety of tips and opinions from experts across various training and IT industries. Having all taken exams with performance-based test items, we can attest that they present a solid challenge to the test-taker and eliminate some of the rote memorization.
Robin also summarized a lot of excellent information in our previous blog posts:
Tags: MCITP, mcsa, MCTS
In response to a recent post, blog reader Raj asked,
Please tell me which certification is best for Windows 7 – MCSA or MCTS ?? And how many exams I need to give to pass that particular exam. Also, I would like to know the validity of that certification.
The good news is that until January 31, 2014, you don’t have to choose; the same exam counts towards both certifications. The Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) credentials are one-test certifications: one exam, and you’ve earned it. These are the same exams that are being phased out by Microsoft in favor of the new MCSA/MCSE certification family. The MCSA/MCSE credentials will require that you pass a minimum of three exams.
During the overlap period, however, select MCTS exams will serve double duty and count toward both certification families. We love a 2-for-1!
What about the MCITP for desktop clients?
The MCITP desktop certifications (Windows Vista and Windows 7) are dependent on their underlying MCTS certifications, so these are being phased out as well. You only have three months left to take a Vista exam; all Vista-related exams are retiring on July 31, 2013.
The MCITP for Windows 7 is retiring on January 31, 2014. Please note that the actual exams are not being retired on that date; they’re being repurposed to the new certification paths of MCSA and MCSE. So after January 31, 2014, you won’t earn the MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Administrator on Windows 7 or the MCITP: Enterprise Desktop Support Technician on Windows 7 certifications, but you can still take Exams 680, 685, and 686.
Also, any MCTS and MCITP certification will stay on your Microsoft transcript after the certification itself is retired, and you can mention it on your resume and to hiring managers for as long as it seems relevant to do so.
How does the MCITP relate to the MCSA?
Until January 31, 2014, the MCITP: EDST and the MCITP: EDA in Windows 7 are both functionally equivalent to the MCSA: Windows 7. To earn the MCSA: Windows 7, you have to pass this exams:
plus one of these two exams:
- 70-685: Windows 7, Enterprise Desktop Support Technician
- 70-686: Windows 7, Enterprise Desktop Administrator
If you have already passed these exams, you should have received a notice from Microsoft that you were retroactively granted the MCSA as well.
The MCITP: Enterprise Support Technician on Windows Vista and the MCITP: Consumer Support Technician on Windows Vista are not functionally equivalent to the MCSA for Windows 7, and Microsoft has not announced an upgrade path (as of the time of this post).
Why should I still care about MCTS?
The MCTS is the last of the one-test certifications. If you need a Microsoft certification under your belt today, the clock is ticking down to do so. Because the Windows 7 MCTS exams count towards the MCSA in Windows 7, you lose nothing by taking them.
There are only two MCTS level exams for Windows desktop operating systems:
- 70-680, Windows 7 Configuration: Earns the MCTS: Windows 7 – Configuration until January 31, 2014
- 70-620, Windows Vista Configuration: Earns the MCTS: Windows Vista – Configuration until July 31, 2013.
If you don’t have experience in Windows 7 desktop client, you can take the 70-620 for a few more months.
Okay, so what test do I take today?
Tags: casp, CompTIA, DoD
CompTIA recently announced that the CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP) certification has been accredited by the United States Department of Defense (DoD) Information Assurance Workforce Improvement Program 8570.01-M.
The CASP certification is intended for IT professionals with at least 10 years of experience, of which 5 years should be hands-on security work. Like other D0D-accepted certifications from CompTIA (A+, Security+, and Network+), it must be renewed every three years or maintained through CompTIA’s Continuing Education program.
Transcender’s CASP practice exam includes 160 practice test questions and 238 flash cards, including several interactive items that help prepare the customers for the live exam experience.
Tags: exam retakes, exam retirement
Time is running out to take advantage of free retakes for failed Microsoft exams. Time is also running out to qualify for a whole host of retiring certifications and certification exams, as we’ve covered in previous posts:
Remember that you should register for your Second Shot voucher *before* you schedule and pay for your exam, because you’ll use the Second Shot voucher number during the exam registration process.
On a related note, it’s the last day to score 20% off your Transcender practice test with the code TRALUCKY13.
–the Transcender Team
(Editor’s note: This post belongs to our ongoing series about the new generation of Microsoft certifications. See also Customer asks: Is now the time to study for Windows Server 2008 certification, or Server 2012?, Don’t wait to finish your MCTS or MCITP: Microsoft retiring exam tracks, and Everything old is new again: the MCSE and MCSA are dead (long live the MCSE and MCSA).)
Having wandered the wilderness of Java and CIW certification for some years, I didn’t move into Microsoft developer certs until about 2002. At that time, the MCSD (known then as Microsoft Certified SolutioN Developer) was a catch-all certification, requiring a wide array of Visual Basic, DCOM, and ASP knowledge. Its prestige was based on the complexity and intensity of the exam objectives, and not whether these skills were required by a specific job role in the real world. Most Microsoft developers I knew focused on a type of application, whether it was Windows- or Web-based — not the entire gamut of Microsoft developer technology.
For that reason, few developers were surprised when Microsoft announced new developer certifications for .NET that focused on skill sets related to actual job roles. This change occured during Microsoft’s overall revamp of its certifications that resulted in the demise of the Windows NT and Server 2003-era MCSE. The “next generation” developer certifications were branded as the TS (Technology Specialist) level exams and the newly minted MCPD (Microsoft Certified Professional Developer). But in doing away with the old MCSD, Microsoft also lost the recognition the acronym had gained over the years.
So what could Microsoft do but find a way to join those job roles with their former reputation, like some cheesy romantic comedy?
In 2012. enter the Microsoft Certification SolutionS Developer (noticed the new s?). The acronym is also MCSD, but each certification is focused on an application type.* That way you can have your MCSD and eat it, too.
Continue Reading MSCD – A New Certification with an Old Heart of Gold…
Tags: PMI, PMI study tips, PMP, PMP study tips
While I do manage projects in my daily work, I’d never thought of myself as an actual project manager. Being a take-action, Active Directory kind of guy, I primarily develop Microsoft practice exams and leave products like Project+ and CAPM to the professionals (aka Robin Abernathy). But last year several of my co-workers began suggesting that I take PMI’s Project Management Professional (PMP) exam. Then my supervisor softly “suggested” that I take the PMP exam. Even my sister, a project manager, got in the game and encouraged me to take the exam. Furthermore, my sister said the exam was easy and did not take a whole lot of work to prepare for.
Well, she was wrong.
Since I am a veteran trainer, exam developer, and test-passer, my initial plan of attack was to fill out the application, take a practice test to identify gaps in my knowledge, do self-study to close those gaps, schedule the exam, take the exam, and pass it. BOOM! PMP-ville.
The Bad News
Not so fast. First, it took forever and a day to detail all of my project work experience for the application. Yes, you have to document 4,500 hours of project management experience (7,500 hours if you don’t have a bachelor’s degree). They also require 35 hours of formal project management training, which I didn’t have. The training materials was not actually a problem, as I was able to take a Skillsoft e-learning course that my company offers, but I did have to stop and find time for 35 hours of training in my schedule.
Once I finished the training and completed the application, back in June 2012, I got the go-ahead from PMI to schedule my exam. Next, I tested my existing knowledge by taking the Transcender PMP practice test. I failed that practice test miserably, and I emphasize: miserably.
I appealed to my friends and Dr. Internet for advice. One friend suggested a book that turned out to be a lifesaver: PMP Project Management Professional Exam Study Guide by Kim Heldman. Meanwhile, Dr. Internet suggested that I read the book chapter by chapter, then go through some practice tests after I’d finished the whole thing.
The More Bad News
Great plan, except for the part where it didn’t work. I would read one chapter, then another chapter, and then life would get in the way. I would put in one week of good study, then put the PMP info down for about 10 days. Unfortunately, a lot of the information that I’d studied seemed to float away. This process continued all the way through fall. By the time September rolled around, I was still not able to pass the practice tests that came with the book. Worse, the actual PMP exam is four hours long, but I had to take lots of breaks to finish each practice test. I just could not sit through all 200 questions. I felt like I was in high school taking the SAT test again. Augh!
I soon figured out what everybody and their mother has already posted on the Internet: you need to know every process, every input for that process, every tool and technique for that process, and every output for that process. By the way, there are a whole lot of processes. I tried to memorize them with repeated reading, but was never successful.
Finally, I tried using the audio CDs that came with Heldman’s book. Since my office recently relocated to East Tumbleweed, I had plenty of driving time to listen to someone else describe each process. Although this sounds like this would be outlawed by the Geneva Convention as torture, it actually helped a lot. I was able to memorize most of the processes and their information in this way. More importantly, I was able to do significantly better on the book’s practice tests, and started to make headway on the Transcender practice test as well.
The very last thing I did to prepare was to actually read the PMBOK guide. Not exactly a page turner, but it had to be done. I wasn’t too far into the PMBOK when I realized that Heldman’s book has done such a great job of explaining the abstract terminology with real-life examples, that I didn’t need to spend a lot of time with the PMBOK itself. I might owe dinner to the buddy that recommended Heldman’s book.
The Dire Warnings
Scheduling, or rather the impossibility of RE-scheduling the PMP exam, was no walk in the park. I strongly suggest that you do not schedule your exam too many months in advance. In fact, you might want to make sure your test date is carved in stone. If you need to reschedule your exam within 30 days of the exam date, you will have to pay a $70 fee. Worse, if you need to reschedule within 48 hours, you lose the entire testing fee ($405 for PMI members, $555 for non-PMI members). Ouch! Just be mindful, if you schedule the exam months in advance, life might get in the way, and you will risk losing your $70.
All warnings aside, I do recommend you set a goal date. I decided on the date that I wanted to take my exam and scheduled the exam only a few days out from that date. Set a target date for when you want to take the exam, and then try to schedule the exam two weeks out from the target date.
The test center where I took the exam reminded me of the gulag in the movie “Stripes” where the East Germans held John Candy, Judge Reinhold and the gang, before Bill Murray and Harold Ramis busted them out.
The lighting was so bad that I could barely see what I was writing on the scrap paper they gave me. As promised, the exam had 200 questions and blocked out four hours. My sister said that it would only take me two hours, tops. As I may have mentioned before, my sister was
wrong. It took nearly the whole four hours for me to finish. It was comprehensive and really a tough exam. After staring at a screen for four hours, I could barely see to drive home.
Finally, the Good Advice
The exam was not impossible. Looking back, there are some things that I would have done differently. For starters, former Transcender team member Jennifer Wagner gave some really good advice on the application process in her blog post from 2009. Like she mentions, you should start documenting your project hours as soon as you start thinking about the PMP exam to cut down on the time spent sorting out the application requirements.
After I finished the application process and got the approval to take the exam, I would have tried to take the test within 6 weeks. I would have taken several days off from work and buckled down to go through all the material and practice tests on a continual basis, instead of trying to dedicate 90 minutes to studying five days a week. PMI uses specific terminology to describe things that seem obvious or intuitive when you’re actually managing a project. If you do not know that terminology backwards and forwards, which I didn’t at first, it will be tough to pass the exam, even if you apply those principles every day at your job.
For me, the best way to get the knowledge about the processes was to go through as many practice test questions as I could to cement the information about the processes in my brain. There are about 800 practice test questions and over 1000 flash questions in the Trancender PMP practice test. I also went through the 400 practice test questions in the Kim Heldman’s book. With my work/life schedule, it took about two weeks to go through all those questions. Going through the questions highlighted my deficiencies. This was the key to the whole process, since after I identified the weak areas, I concentrated on the processes that I was weak on. I got better and better at the flash cards and practice questions until I felt ready to schedule my exam.
The more that you space the studying out, the less you’ll retain. Dedicate some time to the process and knock it out of the park while it’s still fresh. Hope this insight into my experience helps set your expectations & project management goals. Good luck!
Tags: certification, Certification Paths, what we're working on
Our partners at Global Knowledge recently sat down with several members of the Transcender practice test development team — specifically George, Aima, and Josh — and picked our brains about “how their practice exams are developed and how they have evolved to keep up with changes coming from Microsoft. In the end, we learned that there are major challenges in writing practice exams that accurately reflect and teach students important exam concepts, Microsoft is moving towards more open standards, and customer feedback is crucial to developing and evolving Transcender practice exams.”
You can read the entire article here on the Global Knowledge blog: The Evolution of Microsoft Certification Practice Exams.
Tags: top certifications
One of my coworkers recently pointed me toward a web page simply titled The List Of Certifications. According to the author, there are 1,739 current IT certifications offered across a spectrum of 152 vendors, from Adobe to Zend. I’ve never sat down and counted them all, but it sounds about right.
Faced with all these choices, how can a certification-seeker pick the best path to focus on? Obviously your industry will dictate whether you’re considering a project management-type path like Project+, ITIL, or Certified ICAgile Professional, versus a hardware-specific or OS-specific certification. The term “best” is also relative: are you looking for the certification that’s the easiest or least expensive to obtain, the one that requires the most (or least) training, the one that has the best future earnings potential, or the one that you can pick up while still working your day job?
As 2012 wraps up, different industry leaders are offering their take on the “best” five, ten, or twenty certifications to pursue for job growth. Time and again, the most recommended certs are vendor-neutral (CompTIA), have widespread application across multiple job sectors (CCNA and MCSE), or are process-based rather than OS-based (PMP, ITIL). Here’s several lists to start you thinking:
TechRepublic’s The top five in-demand IT certifications for 2013 list, drawn from “expert opinions, research, and Google trends”:
1, MCSA (Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate)
2. MCSE: Private Cloud
3. PMP (Project Management Professional)
4. VCP (VMware Certified Professional)
5. CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional)
Global Knowledge’s 15 Top Paying IT Certifications for 2012, ranked by salary and derived from their annual IT Skills and Salary report:
1. PMP – Project Management Professional – ($111,209)
2. CISSP – Certified Information Systems Security Professional – $110,342
3. CCDA – Cisco Certified Design Associate – $101,915
4. ITIL v3 Foundation – ($97,691)
5. MCSE – Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer – $91,650
6. VCP – VMware Certified Professional – $91,648
7. CCNP – Cisco Certified Network Professional – $90,457
8. CompTIA Server+ – $84,997
9. MCITP – Microsoft Certified IT Professional – $84,330
10. CCNA – Cisco Certified Network Associate – $82,923
11. MCSA – Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator – $82,923
12. CompTIA Security+ – $80,066
13. MCP – Microsoft Certified Professional – $79,363
14. CCENT – Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician – $74,764
15. CompTIA Network+ – $71,207
Here were the certs ranked “most likely to land you a new job” from IT job board Dice.com’s 2012 Salary Survey, as reported (with slightly different salary figures) by ITCareerfinder.com:
1. Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) Expert – salary estimate $107,092
2. PMI Project Management Professional (PMP) – salary estimate $103,570
3. (ISC)2 Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) – salary estimate $100,735
4. Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) – salary estimate $79,536
5. Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) – salary estimate $77,529 (*Note: study was released before Microsoft revive the MCSE program)
6. CompTIA Security+ – salary estimate $75,508
7. CompTIA Network+ – salary estimate $68,963
8. CompTIA A+ – salary estimate $67,608* (not considered accurate, as A+ cert holders typically hold multiple certs that would affect salary results)
CIO Magazine’s 12 IT Certifications That Deliver Career Advancement (2012):
1. Project Management Professional (PMP)
2. Certified Information Systems Security Professionals (CISSP)
3. Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE)
4. VMware Certified Professional (VCP)
5. CompTIA A+
6. Oracle DBA
7. Information Technology Infrastructure Library
8. Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE)
9. Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
10. Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP)
11. Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS)
12. Microsoft’s Certified Systems Engineers (MCSE) (*Note: the author incorrectly identified the Windows 2000 Server MCSE as a “top” certification. We recommend you aim for the revamped 2012 MCSE instead.)
Whichever certification path you choose, we wish you happy certifying in 2013!