(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: .NET Framework 4, 70-519, case study, MCSD, Microsoft MCPD, test-taking tips, Web developer
As I first noted in a blog post early last year, 70-519 (Pro: Designing and Developing Web Applications Using .NET Framework 4) heralded the case study’s triumphant return to developer exams. Before you open our practice test and lapse into drop-jaw silence, or (worse still) enter a catatonic fugue state during the live exam, I thought it worthwhile to prepare you once again:
Although the case study has been the mainstay of many Microsoft administrator exams, the last developer exam with case studies was from the retired MCSD track: 70-300: Analyzing Requirements and Defining Microsoft .NET Solution Architectures. Developers seeking certification have been spared the case study for almost eight years (which is a century in technology years). So it’s understandable that we’re all a bit rusty, and those more nervous test-takers are forgiven for their premature hyperventilation.
But it’s really not that bad. As a matter of fact, this format will drastically reduce the length of many questions. Rather than having to parse a detailed scenario for each question, you will be presented one slightly longer scenario with a series of 6 to 12 brief questions based on it. At first a case study may seem intimidating, but because it is divided into sections and is referenced by multiple questions, the mental swap-space is greatly reduced.
- Skim Only. That’s right. Reading a case study is lot like gorging on eggnog and then wondering why you feel so bloated. Case studies are not intended to be read; they are meant to be referenced to as you answer a question. Just as you don’t read the dictionary from beginning to end, but rather flip straight to the section you need, you should read the case study’s overview, skim over each section, and jot down any details that stick out. You should come back to read a sub-section fully after you read the associated question(s). Many case studies contain lines or even paragraphs of extraneous detail that you don’t need to know to answer the question. If you skim, you’ll have a better chance of answering every question in the case study rather than running out of time before you get to the last two.
- Need for Speed. Each case study is a separate testlet with its own time limit. Once that time expires, you will be forced to move onto the next portion of the test. Thus, answer all questions first with your knee-jerk responses, and then go back through them again more carefully. Sometimes, after skimming the case study, I just answer all questions based upon my memory (no more than a minute per question), then go back to each question and re-read the pertinent section of the case study to confirm I selected the best answer.
On some older Microsoft exams, I felt the case study itself was just window dressing; I found I could often answer the case study’s questions on their own merits. These days, there are so many Web technologies that the best approach to a given problem depends heavily on the specific requirements of a scenario. Those manifold details about existing infrastructure, business requirements, technical requirements, and the size of the user base become key to selecting the best approach. After all, real-life development never occurs in a vacuum, but within specific business processes and structures. The case study serves to focus on specific best practices and available technologies. As such, I actually welcome its return to Microsoft developer tests.
Tags: MCAD, MCDBA, MCSD, sales & specials
Is 2009 the year you’ll finish your Microsoft Certified Application Developer (MCAD), Microsoft Certified Solution Developer (MCSD), or Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA)? If so, you need to focus on scheduling and completing the exams in the next three months. Microsoft is retiring many of the associated exams for these certifications on March 31, 2009. (For a complete list of retiring exams, click here.)
Accordingly, we have discounted our Transcender practice tests and related training content for these exams by 40%. Our website reflects the discounted prices.
Shop here for MCAD practice tests and learning material.
Shop here for MCSD .NET practice tests and learning material.
Shop here for MCDBA practice tests and learning material.
And for a detailed look at the new generation of Microsoft certifications, check out Troy’s excellent post here.
Tags: .NET certification, 2.0, drive-thru, fries, MCAD, MCPD, MCSD, MCTS, super-size, upgrade exams, Visual Studio 2005
Editor’s note: In honor of the real Turkey Day, here’s the follow-up to Josh’s previous post detailing trends in Microsoft’s .NET certification paths.
If there’s one thing in which to have faith in this downward-spiraling economy, it’s two basic drives of the human soul: the entrepreneurial spirit, and the love of fast food. Ray Kroc would be a good example of such a spirit. Starting as a small-time franchisee of the little-known McDonald’s restaurant in 1953, Mr. Kroc would later take over the restaurant chain from brothers Dick and Mac McDonald and build a multi-billion dollar empire based on busy people’s need for cheap, highly fat-saturated food, served right to the window of your car while idling on precious gas fumes. Okay, uh, let’s drive through that example…
With more cars stalled on the economic highway, IT certification has become more valuable.* As fewer lanes are opening up, the need to merge into existing traffic has become even more treacherous. How do you stretch your certification bucks, with times being what they are? After seeing the banquet of .NET certification options spread out on the table (see previous post), overflowing with casseroles of TS (Technology Specialist) and PD (Professional Developer) certifications, you’re probably wondering if there’s a something akin to a certification drive-thru: quick, cheap, and highly saturated.
If you have the know-how (and a good practice test like Transcender) but not the stomach for a buffet, .NET upgrade exams just may be the answer. Since breaking down the MCAD and MCSD certification into the smaller TS and PD dishes, Microsoft has also been steadily building upgrade exams to ease the transition. The 550 series exams are value meals that provide instant certification gratification for those with the appetite. These upgrade exams are also cheaper than the full-length TS and PD exams, being only $75 apiece (that’s 40% off the original price).
(Click the diagram for a larger image.)
Tags: .NET certification, 70-536, developer exams, food coma, MCAD, MCPD, MCSD, MCTS, turkey, Visual Studio 2005
I know it’s a bit early, but in North America we have an autumn holiday tenderly called “Turkey Day.” This is a time where friends and family put aside differences and distances to share a large feast together in the pretense of harmony. The event usually revolves around the traditional meat of turkey, and the carving ceremony in my family has always been a moment of great anticipation and even greater contention.
So, sitting down at the .NET certification table, you might be wondering what happened to the big MCSD/MCAD turkey. Back in the day, the MCSD/MCAD certification represented a master developer, a jack-of-all-trades. So if you wanted a developer certification beyond the MCP, you had to eat the whole MCSD/MCAD turkey, even if you were just a Windows developer or only developed ASP Web sites; you had to eat both dark and white meat, leg and drumstick – everything.
With the introduction of the .NET Framework, the situation became even more complicated. Developing a Windows application became very similar to harnessing Web power, but you had to know everything about both to get the MCSD. The MCAD certification attempted to alleviate the pressure, but it was never as successful a certification as the MCSD.
So for the last few years Microsoft Learning has been busy carving the certification turkey, trying to spread the slices across a much wider spectrum of Microsoft technologies. We’ve entered a new age of smaller, more technology-specific certifications, so that there’s a little bit of certification for everyone to share. Rather than the MCSD and MCAD designation, there are now the TS (Technology Specialist) and PD (Professional Developer) designations.
So how is the certification table currently laid out? Something like this (click the image for a larger version):