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
Tags: Beta Exams
Curious to know how the beta exam process works behind the scenes at Microsoft? Eager to get your hands on a free invite code to a pre-released exam? Liberty Munson has posted a two-part series over in Born To Learn that’s titled Everything You Wanted to Know about Beta Exams: Part 1 (Beta Invites) and Everything You Wanted to Know about Beta Exams: Part 2 (Beta Availability).
Although I recommend you read both posts, the take-away points are:
- Free seats are still available, but very limited.
- Your best shot at a free seat is to keep your SME (subject matter expert) profile current with Microsoft.
- Paid (not free) beta exams are available to anyone.
- Paid (not free) beta exams will now stay in the market until the final exam is live.
This last point is a substantial policy change on the beta front, as these exams were typically only available for a few weeks before vanishing in a puff of psychometric smoke. With the extended availability of beta tests, anyone who needs to prove competency in a brand-new technology will be able to do so without having to wait for the final exam to come to market.
Tags: cloud, exam vouchers, MCTS
In their push toward MCSA and MCSE certifications (covered by George here), Microsoft is offering a fairly unprecedented deal on certification exams: pay full price now, get a free upgrade later. How does this compare to other Microsoft promotions, and is it the right deal for you?
The fine print is as follows:
To help you move to the cloud, Microsoft is offering a limited time* “Two for One” exam offer. When you purchase and take a qualifying exam at full price between April 11, 2012 and June 30, 2012, you will be emailed a voucher valid for the next version exam of your chosen technology path, at no additional cost. Your voucher for the second qualifying exam will be emailed to you when the new exams release and will expire 90 days after the new Certification in your technology path becomes available.
Let’s review the conditions that need to be in place for this deal to work for you:
- You should be ready to pass the current version of your qualifying exam in one of the four “cloud-bound” technology areas: Windows 7 Client (migrating to Windows 8), Windows Server 2008/Private Cloud (migrating to 2012/Private Cloud), Visual Studio 2010 (migrating to Visual Studio 11), and SQL Server 2008 (migrating to 2012: Data Platform or 2012: Business Intelligence).
- You should be able to pass the current exam(s) by the end of June. You can request up to five exam vouchers in any of the listed paths (which means you would take up to five exams in the next three weeks).
- You should have a plan in place to hit the ground running once the upgraded version of your exam is released. The clock starts ticking the 90-day countdown as soon as the exam rolls out.
- You should install and configure the updated versions of your technology as soon as they roll out (such as Windows Server 2012 Release Candidate).
- You should regularly check (or subscribe to a feed for) Microsoft Learning’s Cloud Certification Overview Page (
) for freebies and training offers to work your skills in the new areas.
If that sounds like a workable plan, then head over to Microsoft today and request your cloud-bound voucher.
Tags: code exams, exam item types, extended matching, study tips, test-taking tips
As technologies evolve, so do the means of testing your technical knowledge. While the multiple choice standard still has its place, Microsoft and other major vendors are rapidly evolving beyond such mechanical (and easily braindumped) question formats. Microsoft has even released a catchy YouTube video on the subject:
An awful lot of research goes into the most effective question format. In the past few years we’ve seen an explosion of new item types and testing techniques. Some have been rolled out, some have been rolled back, and some are newly announced but haven’t yet been sighted in the wild. Here are the ones encountered by the Transcender Team, with our notes on each.
This item type was announced in early 2011 (Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue: Introducing a New Item Type on Certification Exams), but we didn’t encounter it in an exam until recently. George, our Microsoft Windows Server and SQL Server expert, first tackled extended matching on the beta exams for SQL Server 2012. Here’s what he had to say:
I encountered Build-list and reorder questions that required you to know the exact sequence in which tasks should be performed. There were also Active Screen items that required you to answer questions based on a scenario. I also saw the new “Extended Matching” questions. The Extended Matching questions looked kind of like case studies, because they were a set of multiple choice questions answered in one time frame. However, these did not have the usual four or five answer choices. No, each question had the same 14 choices. The questions were slightly different, but the choices were the same. These question types caught me off guard and I found them completely confusing until I realized you could actually have the same correct answer for more than one question in the set.
The Extended Matching questions were like someone put a long multiple choice question, a matching question, and a pint of buttermilk in a blender, pulsed it, left the horrible concoction on the kitchen table overnight, and then tricked you into drinking it in the morning.
We’re hoping that you go into your exams a little more prepared than George, so we’re in the process of revising our 70-667 practice exam and our 70-432 practice exam to include this new item type. This will give you the chance to get comfortable with how Extended Matching items are put together, and not be caught off guard on exam day.
Case studies and code case studies
Case studies (mini-tests that are timed separately from the SAMC/MAMC questions) are nothing new in the Microsoft world, but they did vanish from the testing scene for a few years, until recently (see George’s post, The Case Study Gets Its Groove Back). Because each case study has its own clock, the trick is not to let them eat into your overall exam time. However, the Code case study was a new twist on the concept. It was touted in Born To Learn last year (Code case studies: test drive our new item type for developer exams). Josh reported on this item type extensively here a few months back (They’re back: the return of the developer exam case study). They’ve been incorporated into all of our practice tests for these technologies.
As of this writing, you can still access Microsoft’s mockup code case study here:
Short Answer Code
This item type will incorporate live coding into the exam, and as far back as our SMEs can remember, this item type is a first for Microsoft. Short answer code items were announced in October 2011 (Check Out the Short Answer Code Item Type). While we haven’t encountered this item type on a certification exam yet, here’s what we know about it so far: the item will have a field in which the candidate writes a short code segment to accomplish the task in the scenario. All the standard tools that would be available to a developer in real life (such as syntax checking) will be reproduced on the test, so in theory, you can’t trip yourself up with a simple mis-key or typo.
Have you encountered this item type yet? If so, we’d love to hear about it.
MAMC: Choose All that Apply
“Wait,” you say. “That’s not a new item type. That’s the same old multiple choice question that Microsoft (and Transcender) has been doing all along.”
Well, yes. But in the course of reviewing the most test-worthy item types, psychometricians made a surprising discovery: this classic structure is actually one of the hardest to answer without a thorough knowledge of the subject being tested. You can read about the methods used by psychometrician Liberty Munson here, Investigating the Psychometric Performance of Our Item Types.
How many times have you encountered a multiple choice question where you weren’t sure of all the answers, but the fact that the question said “choose two” or “choose four” let you safely guess the parts that you weren’t sure about? If Microsoft has anything to say about it – and, let’s face it, they do – then this guessing technique will be ruled out. Fortunately, Transcender has used this MAMC structure in all of our practice tests, so users should be prepared to answer them on exam day.
What about simulations?
A few years ago, simulation exams were the item type of the future; almost impossible to braindump, and representing a real-world test of the user’s skills. Microsoft introduced the simulation format with the 83-640 Windows Server Configuring exam. Problems with exam delivery, though, sidelined this particular format, which reverted to the conventional 70-640.
While there may have been some setbacks, this was an excellent testing format, and it certainly shouldn’t be ruled out of future Microsoft exams. We think the live coding exams for developers represent one new direction in which to take simulations – the goal of which, after all, is to have the user perform real-life tasks.
For one last obsessive look at this subject, check out Liberty Munson’s Born To Learn post on Microsoft’s changing attitudes towards the building of certification exams (Exams Grow Up)
–the Transcender Team
Tags: cloud certifications, mcse
Have you been racing toward your Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) or Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD) certification, only to worry that it might be redundant by the time you arrive? If so, act fast to take advantage of a FREE exam offer from Microsoft that will help convert your certification to the equivalent MCSE certification when it’s released.
To benefit from this offer, you must purchase and take any exam from one of these four technology paths by June 30, 2012:
- Windows 7
- Windows Server 8 /Private Cloud
- SQL Server 2008
- Visual Studio 2010
Next, you must request a free exam voucher from Microsoft:
Once the MCSE-level exam in your technology path is released, you have 90 days to use the voucher and take the exam for free. You can request up to 5 vouchers (keeping in mind you will have to pass the 5 current exams before the end of June).
Here’s a comprehensive list of the exams that you can CURRENTLY take, and receive a voucher for the corresponding 2012 or Server 8 version:
Exam 70-680 : TS: Windows 7, Configuring
Exam 70-686 : PRO: Windows 7, Enterprise Desktop Administrator
Exam 70-685 : PRO: Windows 7, Enterprise Desktop Support Technician
Exam 70-640 : Windows Server 2008 Active Directory, Configuring
Exam 70-642 : Windows Server 2008 Network Infrastructure, Configuring
Exam 70-646 : Windows Server 2008, Server Administrator
Exam 70-647 : PRO: Windows Server 2008, Enterprise Administrator
Exam 70-643 : TS: Windows Server 2008 Applications Infrastructure, Configuring
Exam 70-659 : TS: Windows Server 2008 R2, Server Virtualization
Exam 70-432 : TS: Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Installation and Maintenance
Exam 70-433 : TS: Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Database Development
Exam 70-448 : TS: Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Business Intelligence Development and Maintenance
Exam 70-450 : PRO: Designing, Optimizing and Maintaining a Database Server Infrastructure using Microsoft SQL Server 2008
Exam 70-451 : PRO: Designing Database Solutions and Data Access Using Microsoft SQL Server 2008
Exam 70-452 : PRO: Designing a Business Intelligence Infrastructure Using Microsoft SQL Server 2008
Exam 70-511 : TS: Windows Applications Development with Microsoft .NET Framework 4
Exam 70-513 : TS: Windows Communication Foundation Development with Microsoft .NET Framework 4
Exam 70-515 : TS: Web Applications Development with Microsoft .NET Framework 4
Exam 70-516 : TS: Accessing Data with Microsoft .NET Framework 4
Exam 70-518 : PRO: Designing and Developing Windows Applications Using Microsoft .NET Framework 4
Exam 70-519 : PRO: Designing and Developing Web Applications Using Microsoft .NET Framework 4
Tags: a+, CompTIA, flash cards, mobile app
We’ve released our first mobile app into the wild! The TranscenderFlash CompTIA A+ flash card app is now available through Amazon and the Android Market. (To download directly from your phone, type “transcender” in the Market search bar.)
Android Marketplace :
You get the following features with our FREE app:
- Over twelve hundred questions covering all exam objectives
- Simple and intuitive flash card interface
- Easy self-grading
- Answer history tracking
- Post your success to Facebook
Once you open a flash card and test yourself on the answer, click to reveal the correct answer, then click to grade how accurately you responded. A correctly answered flash card is removed from your session so you can focus on trouble areas the next time you go through the question base. You can stop the review midway and resume where you left off, or begin a new study session to reset the question pool.
For now the app is only available through the Android Market, but we’ll be rolling out soon to Amazon and the Apple App Market as well. The app will be available for Web OS, Blackberry, and iPhone as well as Android tablets and smartphones.
Tags: MOS, Office 2010
Transcender has partnered with G*Metrix, a technology testing provider, to offer you the Microsoft Office 2010 practice test products! Those who are familiar with our Office 2003 and Office XP products will find the same ease of grading and remediation text in the G*Metrix products. The Microsoft Word and Excel practice tests will also include a third pool of Transcender’s practice questions and corresponding explanations.
- 77-881 – MOS: Microsoft Office Word 2010
- 77-882 – MOS: Microsoft Office Excel 2010
- 77-883 – MOS: Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2010
- 77-884 – MOS: Microsoft Office Outlook 2010
- 77-885 – MOS: Microsoft Office Access 2010
- 77-887 – MOS: Microsoft Office Word 2010 Expert
- 77-888 – MOS: Microsoft Office Excel 2010 Expert
Users can choose from testing mode or training mode.
In either mode, the format and appearance of the test engine mirrors a live exam. The task(s) to be solved for each item appear(s) at the bottom of the screen below a fully enabled version of the Office 2010 product being tested. In training mode only, users can click the question mark at the lower right-hand corner of the screen and pull up a full tutorial that explains each step of the action to take to complete the task.
The practice test application is available as a download that installs on your computer. Because this simulates a live-in-the-application test, you must also have your own copy of Office 2010 installed to run the exam.
For more information on passing your Office 2010 exams, check out our earlier blog posts:
Tags: Continuing Education Units, PDU, PMI, PMP
Editor’s note: Our guest blogger, PMP certification holder Colleen Reed, project manager for a Washington, D.C.-area information technology firm, shares her budget-busting method of acquiring PDUs.
My most excellent Project Manager Professional (PMP) certification comes with a requirement to take 60 continuing education credits of the PMI-approved sort, called professional development units (PDUs). I have three years from the receipt of my PMP to earn those 60 PDUs. There are many, MANY ways to earn credits, which the PMI helpfully lists here (
). Some of these credit methods have limits; some do not.
My favorite method for earning my PDUs are those very inexpensive ($5) or free Web-broadcast seminars that account for between a half and two credits each. So far, I’ve nickle-n-dimed myself up about 10 credits worth of those classes.
My favorite class so far has been a Web-broadcast lecture on project risk management for the widening of the Panama Canal. It was hosted through the Washington, DC PMI chapter, and cost me $5 to “attend” online. That was an interesting political science and management lecture rolled into one convenient package. And it earned me 1.5 PDUs towards recertification. I also took some online webinar courses on Earned Value Management from Global Knowledge, which earned me a single PDU each.
Admittedly, this earning rate pales in comparison to, say, the 22 credits that I could earn for attending a three-day class of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. But as a working professional, I find there are many advantages to these small-fry webinars:
- The first one is convenience. I can “attend” a webinar from any location that has a computer and a connection, and sometimes I don’t even need to attend the presentation in real time.
- The second advantage is targeted content. I can pick a class that covers a topic that I need, and earn PDU credit while also advancing my knowledge base.
- The third advantage is what I consider my brain-full level. An hour of class time contains just about as much material as I want to absorb during my work day.
- And the fourth advantage is, of course, cost. While my own company has a very generous training policy, many of us in the consulting business must arm-wrestle our companies for the time off to take courses, the money to take the classes, or both. These webinars are low-to-no cost, so might not be worth anyone’s time when it comes to fighting about money.
So, in short, using webinars to earn PDUs is a great idea. I get my PDUs when and where I want them, in bite-sized pieces, on topics that interest me, and no one is complaining about my training budget. To quote Stephen Covey, that’s a “win-win.”
Colleen Reed, PMP, SNVC L.C.
Program Manager, National Guard Bureau
Related blog posts:
Tags: certification expiration, CEUs, CompTIA
Last year CompTIA announced its new certification expiration policy for A+, Network+, and Security+, which took effect on January 1, 2011. At the same time, CompTIA also established its Continuing Education (CE) program for users to keep their certifications active. Predictably, there has been confusion regarding both the changeover and the exact nature of activities that count for Continuing Education Units (CEUs).
Last week CompTIA posted a comprehensive FAQ for their CEUs on their blog. We thought it was worth referencing here in case you missed it! Read the full text here: