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: 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!
Tags: certification lifecycle, exam expirations, exam retirement, MCITP, mcsa, mcse, MCTS, private cloud, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2012
In response to a recent post, blog reader Zappy asked,
I am new to Windows Server certifications and I currently hold none. I am thinking of getting certified but I am not sure if I should begin with Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2012. I have a fair amount of experience in 2008. What would you suggest?
The knee-jerk response is “Forget 2008; study for the cert that will have the longest shelf life.” However, there are a few factors to consider before writing off a 2008 certification entirely. Those factors are:
- the number of exams required to earn a certification
- the desired time frame for earning a certification
- the user’s level of experience with 2008 versus 2012
- how soon the user can expect 2012 to be the standard in his or her particular industry
For the sake of demonstration, I’m going to look only at Windows Server certifications, and not specialties such as Lync, .NET, SharePoint, or Exchange. (You can find more information on those certification paths here.) I’m also going to stick with entry-level and mid-level certs, since you’d be earning those anyway as you blaze towards the MCSE or MCM.
(Remember: These recommendations are for someone who, as of late 2012, has not yet taken any Microsoft exam and needs to factor exam retirement dates into a certification strategy.)
Do it now: Be off like a shot
No matter which path you decide to pursue, do it now. The perfect time to buy your first Microsoft exam voucher is during the Second Shot promotion. That means that if you take an exam between now and May 30, 2013 and fail it, you can sit for a free retake. You can buy Second Shot assurance for a single exam or for a multi-exam voucher pack (which typically earns you a bulk discount on exam fees as well).
It only takes one
Remember that passing one certification exam, even if it’s part of a multi-exam certification track, earns you the Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) credential. As a member of the Microsoft Certification Program, you have access to MCP Flash emails from Microsoft, and you can share your transcript with others to show your progress towards a specific certification.
Single-exam certs: testing the Microsoft waters
In the “need a cert now” category, you can obtain a Microsoft certification with just one test — and it will count toward a higher-level certification, should you choose to pursue one. However, one-test certs are only offered for Windows Server 2008. The three server specializations are:
- 70-640 – Earns the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS): Windows Server 2008 Active Directory, Configuration
- 70-642 – Earns the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS): Windows Server 2008 Network Infrastructure, Configuring
- 70-643 – Earns the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS): Windows Server 2008 Applications Infrastructure, Configuration (retires July 31, 2013)
Remember that these exams include Windows Server 2008 R2 material, so you absolutely must be familiar with R2 before sitting an exam.
Our recommendation: if you’ve never sat for any Microsoft test and don’t know what to expect, combining Second Shot with a one-test cert might be the perfect low-stress entrance strategy, even if it “only” earns you an MCTS Server 2008 credential. If you go this route, choose either the 70-640 or the 70-642, since these also count toward the newly fledged MCSA in Server 2008 (more on that in the next section).
70-643 alone is not relevant to the MCSA 2008, so look at the exam’s objectives, and only choose it if you need this certification in your current job (and your boss is paying).
Three to five exams: not all middle-tier certs are created equal
Things get a bit murky as you move up the Server 2008 certification ladder. Having divided Generation 2008 certifications into five MCTS (entry level) and three MCITP (mid level) exam tracks, all covering different job roles and skills, Microsoft recently collapsed the varied tracks back into a revised MCSA, and added the upper-tier MCSE options. However, the MCITP tracks are still active. Depending on the track, each MCITP will either be phased out in July 2013 or rolled into the new generation of certifications.
You can obtain an MCITP in a Windows client or in Server 2008 R2 by taking three to five exams. The three server paths are Enterprise, Server Admin, and Virtualization Admin.
- The MCITP: Server Administrator requires three exams. None of these exams is scheduled for retirement in 2013.
- The MCITP: Virtualization Administrator requires three exams. These exams retire July 31, 2013.
- The MCITP: Enterprise Administrator requires five exams. These exams retire July 31, 2013.
Earning the MCITP: Server OR the MCITP: Enterprise automatically snags you an equivalent MCSA: Windows Server 2008. However, Server can be earned in only three exams, while Enterprise takes five. A MCSA: Server 2008 plus the 70-417 upgrade exam can then earn you the MCSA: Server 2012.
The MCITP: Virtualization also allows you to upgrade to MCSA: Server 2012 — but, confusingly, you can’t upgrade it to an MCSA: Server 2008. Microsoft has dropped it from this list of current MCITP tracks; also see this blog post.
Tags: certification lifecycle, exam expirations
Editor’s note: Dates and exam numbers in this post may have changed since it was published. Please refer FIRST to Microsoft’s master list of retiring certifications: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/retired-certifications.aspx#fbid=bFimCn-qjlo. Click http://transcender.wordpress.com/category/certification-paths/ to find the latest posts by date on this topic.
Microsoft’s 2003, 2007, or 2008 technologies may still be thriving in your workplace, but Microsoft places hard limits on the certification lifecycle. It’s easy to let deadlines get away from you when you feel like there’s no rush. Are you a test or two away from earning an MCTS or MCITP? If so, be sure to go over this list of exam expirations and schedule your test well before the deadline. This will make sure you aren’t caught in a time crunch, and have to fight off a slew of fellow last-minute test-takers to get a seat at your testing center.
ETA: Thanks to a sharp-eyed reader for pointing out that several exams scheduled to expire THIS month, July 31, 2012, are actually listed as Already Retired and so did not appear on our initial list:
- Upgrade: MCITP SQL Server 2005 to 2008
- Upgrade MCPD Windows Developer to MCPD Windows Developer 3.5
- 70-566 UPGRADE: Transition your MCPD Windows Developer Skills to MCPD Windows Developer 3.5
- 70-567 UPGRADE: Transition your MCPD Web Developer Skills to MCPD ASP.NET Developer 3.5
- 70-568 UPGRADE: Transition your MCPD Enterprise Application Developer Skills to MCPD Enterprise Application Developer 3.5, Part 1
- 70-569 UPGRADE: Transition your MCPD Enterprise Application Developer Skills to MCPD Enterprise Application Developer 3.5, Part 2
Exams expiring September 30, 2012:
- Office SharePoint and Office Communications 2007
- Exchange Server 2007
Exams expiring January 31, 2013:
- Office SharePoint Server 2007
- 70-542: TS: Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 – Application Development
- Office Project 2007 and Project Server 2007
Exams expiring July 31, 2013:
- Windows Server 2008 R2
- Windows Server 2008
- 70-643: TS: Windows Server 2008 Applications Infrastructure, Configuring
- 70-647: Pro: Windows Server 2008, Enterprise Administrator
- 70-648: Upgrading your MCSA on Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008, Technology Specialist
- 70-649: Upgrading your MCSE on Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2008, Technology Specialist
- Windows Server 2003
- 70-290: Managing and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Environment
- 70-291: Implementing, Managing, and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Network Infrastructure
- 70-293: Planning and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Network Infrastructure
- 70-294: Planning, Implementing, and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Active Directory Infrastructure
- 70-297: Designing a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Active Directory and Network Infrastructure
- 70-298: Designing Security for a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Network
- 70-299: Implementing and Administering Security in a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Network
- Microsoft .NET Framework 4.0
- 70-521: Upgrade: Transition your MCPD .NET Framework 3.5 Windows Developer Skills to MCPD .NET 4.0 Windows Applications Developer
- 70-523: Upgrade: Transition Your MCPD .NET Framework 3.5 Web Developer Skills to MCPD .NET Framework 4 Web Developer
- 70-536: TS: Microsoft .NET Framework – Application Development Foundation
- Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5
- 70-502: TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 – Windows Presentation Foundation
- 70-503: TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 – Windows Communication Foundation
- 70-504: TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 – Workflow
- 70-505: TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5, Windows Forms Application Development
- 70-561: TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5, ADO.NET Application Development
- 70-562: TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5, ASP.NET Application Development
- 70-563: Pro: Designing and Developing Windows Applications Using the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5
- 70-564: PRO: Designing and Developing ASP.NET Applications Using the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5
- 70-565: PRO: Designing and Developing Enterprise Applications Using the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5
For a complete list of exam expirations across all certification tracks, and more information on present and future certification tracks, visit Microsoft’s Certification Lifecycle page.
Tags: Beta Exams
For the last several years, Microsoft beta exams have been available prior to an exam’s “official” release. Typically beta test vouchers were handed out to SMEs, posted on industry blogs, or distributed at conferences. Microsoft recently announced that they were changing their beta exam strategy and opening the playing field to everyone who wished to take a beta exam. (See the new official FAQ on beta tests here.)
As per the announcement, beta exams will be priced the same as regular exams and can be scheduled through Prometric’s website as soon as they are released. Beta exam numbers typically start with a 71-xxx instead of a 70-xxx. Currently, exams 70-410, 70-687, 70-480 are in beta; you can schedule them through Prometric using exam numbers 71-410, 71-687, and 71-480 (as of this writing).
For those of you scratching your heads and wondering what the point of a non-free beta exam would be, we’ve put together a few pros and cons of setting yourself ahead of the bell curve. (Please note that this information may be subject to change in the future as Microsoft rolls out new promotions or ends old ones.)
Here are some potential reasons why you might NOT want to take an exam in the beta stage:
- Delayed scoring. You don’t get your score after finishing a beta exam. You have to wait until the official non-beta exam release, generally a period of 8 to 12 weeks.
- Longer tests. If your time frame or attention span is limited, this might not be the best format. Some items may not be scored; some items may be a trial run of a new question format meant to gather real-life usage data.
- No retakes allowed. Microsoft isn’t currently running a Second Shot promotion, so there’s no word on whether Second Shot will apply to paid beta exams.
- You have to hit the ground running. Beta exams are bleeding edge. Have you had enough time to thoroughly learn the latest iteration of your software?
And, of course, some reasons why you WOULD want to take a beta exam:
- The opportunity to leave feedback. Beta tests have detailed comment fields at the end. Didn’t like the way a question was phrased? Thought the new live coding segment was great? Encountered a glitch? This is an unparalleled opportunity to provide direct feedback. Heck, even Microsoft’s own employees love the chance to leave exam feedback.
- Getting certified ahead of the pack. Getting that cloud-based certification now, as opposed to six months from now, might be the credentials edge that gets you a promotion, a teaching position, or a new career.
- Bragging rights. And blogging rights, and white paper authoring rights. Run with it (within NDA bounds, of course.)
Microsoft will still be releasing free exam beta codes to SMEs and other qualified individuals, though in smaller numbers than before, and you can still sit a “free” beta exam (as part of your overall conference fee) at trade shows, such as Microsoft TechEd Europe 2012. If you want the chance to receive a coveted invite-only beta exam code in the mail, Microsoft requires that you set up and maintain your SME profile here:
To keep abreast of beta exam announcements, follow Born To Learn or another industry-relevant blog:
Meanwhile, this change in strategy on Microsoft’s part will mean that seats for beta exams are essentially unlimited, so you no longer have to chase a seat down like it was a Rolling Stones concert ticket.
In case you missed us on Twitter and Facebook, we wanted to make sure you knew we’re at Booth #2049 this year and can’t wait to meet you! Our Team will provide their recaps and reviews from the show in the coming weeks and they will be sure to share the wealth of knowledge gathered at the countless Keynotes & Sessions & Labs, but THIS blog post is about the GOOD news:
Where’s the food, drinks, and entertainment?!
- Community Night: Meet fellow attendees and members of the TLC and Connect Zone in North Hall B from 6:15-9pm (yes, there’s beer)
- Jam Session (our favorite!): Open jam for all you musicians (and brave wannabes) tonight from 9 pm – 1am at B.B. King’s at Pointe, Orlando. Just bring your talent, everything else (Instruments, lyrics, sheet music, etc) will be provided. If you’ve never been to one, we highly recommend it!
- TechEd Gives Back: When you’re done chatting it up and dancing the night away, consider giving a little something back to our host city of Orlando. Stop by South Hall B (by the Registration area) and check out the list of on-site volunteer activities. It doesn’t take a lot of time or money to make a huge impact!
Be sure to comment below or over on our Facebook page and let us know which of these events, or the dozens of other activities, you participate in this week at TechEd 2012.
Tags: ccna, mobile app
Following the success of the TranscenderFlash CompTIA A+ flash card app, we’ve rolled out our first Cisco CCNA flash card study app (640-822, ICND Part 1). For now the app is only available on the Android platform, but we’ll be rolling out an iTunes release next month. Update: you can download the app from the Android marketplace or iTunes.
The app is 100% free of cost and free of ads. Here’s what you get:
- Hundreds of questions covering all exam objectives for 640-822 CISCO ICND Part 1
- Ability to sort flash cards by exam objective
- Simple and intuitive flash card interface
- Easy self-grading, answer history tracking, and session saving
- Correctly answered flash cards are removed to focus on trouble areas
- Post your success to Facebook
To those of you who tried out and commented on our A+ app: we listened! We have completely redesigned the A+ flash card interface, and used the new interface for the CCNA app. Now both apps let you select which objective you’d like to study, rather than taking you through the entire pool of questions starting with the first objective. If you have the old A+ app, upload the revision now. Here’s some screen caps to show you how both apps behave:
Download the app today, and let us know what you think!