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: a+, CompTIA, network+, PBT, Performance-Based Testing, Security+
With the release of CompTIA’s new A+ series, 220-801 and 220-802, many of you will finally get your first look at CompTIA’s performance-based questions. The performance-based questions were actually first released by CompTIA in their CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP) exam, but the CASP has a more limited audience than CompTIA’s A+, Network+, and Security+ exams.
Several members of our Content Development team have seen the CASP, the new A+ and Network+ performance-based questions, and we all feel that CompTIA is headed in the right direction with these item types. While we can’t share any details ourselves, CompTIA has released information over the past few weeks that will hopefully answer some of your questions. Here are a few resources I would recommend:
- I found a lot of information in the blog post titled “What Is a Performance-Based Question?” I suggest you read the blog post and watch the accompanying video.
- CompTIA also published another blog entry, titled Rigor of New CompTIA A+ 800 Series Exams Reflects Change in Entry-Level IT Roles, explaining the rationale behind the changed format and objectives.
- Pearson IT Certification announced that it will have a FREE Webcast about the new A+ 800-series exams on December 13, 2012. For more information, go to http://promos.pearsonitcertification.com/acton/fs/blocks/showLandingPage/a/1811/p/p-0058/t/page/fm/19. This Webcast looks especially suited for instructors, as it covers what’s new, improved, and different!
Did you notice CompTIA has increased the recommended hours of hands-on field experience to one year, up from the previously recommended six months? Those of us who have already taken the exam perceived a small but definite increase in difficulty. Again, with those performance-based items, you can either perform a task or you can’t. Hands-on experience is key. If the question simulates an action you do every day at work, then you’re probably going to find it a breeze. If it tests a concept you’ve only read about in books or studied in the abstract, it may take you a little longer to puzzle out the solution.
As I already mentioned, the new A+ and Network+ exams include performance-based questions. CompTIA will integrate performance-based questions into the Security+ exam in January.
So it looks like the move is permanent, folks! Embrace it! And know that what CompTIA has released is just the tip of the iceberg. Does anyone remember Microsoft’s 83-640 exam? I think that was a glimpse of where performance-based testing should really go.
Tags: casp, CompTIA, network+, Performance-Based Testing, Security+
As many of you may know, CompTIA introduced performance-based questions on the CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP) certification exam. These questions have really added to the difficulty of the exam. The new A+ series (220-801 and 220-802), to be released in October 2012, will also include this item type. We were told that CompTIA was looking into expanding some of their other certifications to include this item type, but we weren’t told when the changes would occur other than “fourth quarter of 2012.”
Finally, CompTIA has released some concrete details about upcoming changes to the Network+ and Security+ certification exams. And the news? Both of these certifications will be adding performance-based questions in as soon as one month!
Network+ candidates: How the product changes affect you
For Network+, the last day to take this exam WITHOUT performance-based items is November 3, 2012. Starting on November 4, 2012, all Pearson VUE-delivered Network+ exams will include this item type.
CompTIA is encouraging individuals who are already studying for Network+ to take the current exam before the performance–based questions become incorporated. As part of this initiative, CompTIA will allow you to purchase a Network+ exam voucher by November 3 and save 15%. Purchase a Network+ Exam Voucher Now if you plan on taking the exam by November 3rd. Once you buy the voucher, you’ll have between ten and twelve months from the date of purchase to redeem it for a test. After November 3, these exam vouchers revert to full price.
Security+ candidates: How the product changes affect you
For Security+, the last day to take the exam WITHOUT performance-based items is December 31, 2012. Starting on January 5, 2013, all Pearson VUE-delivered Security+ exams will include this item type.
As with Network+, CompTIA is encouraging individuals already studying for Security+ to take the current exam before performance–based question become incorporated. Purchase a Security+ exam voucher by December 31, 2012 and save 15%. Purchase Security+ Exam Voucher Now if you plan on taking the exam by December 31st. The voucher is valid for ten to twelve months from the date of purchase. On January 1, 2013, these exam vouchers revert to full price.
In addition, CompTIA has created a great video all about the CompTIA testing experience that includes information about the PBT item type. The item type discussion section starts at around the 5-minute mark, but I would suggest watching the whole video, because it contains some great information.
Transcender customers: how the product changes affect you
As far as the Transcender products go, we will definitely be adding performance-based items to our current practice tests. But keep in mind that we do NOT get an advance viewing of these items — so we cannot see what these items entail until November 3rd for Network+ and January 5th for Security+. Once we see how CompTIA handles the performance-based aspect, we will put together a plan for revising our practice products so that they’ll best prepare you for the actual exam. We anticipate that we’ll be adding our own performance-based items approximately 6-8 weeks after the CompTIA exams release.
Any Transcender customers who have an active practice test license at the time we release the product update will be able to update their purchase to the new version at NO additional cost. (What a great value add!)
Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have, and happy testing!
Tags: casp, CompTIA, Performance-Based Testing
At the CompTIA Academy Educator Conference in Las Vegas, I made a presentation to help educators better understand the CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP) exam. I received such awesome feedback that I decided to write a blog post based on the presentation. I will explain the CASP exam to you, where the exam fits in the certification world, and how you should prepare to take it or prepare your students to take it.
What the CASP Certification is
First, here are some key numbers for you. In CompTIA’s 8th Annual Information Security Trends study, 76% of those responding indicated that their IT staff probably or definitely need more vendor-neutral security training. 81% of those responding indicated that they would give more recognition and financial rewards to the IT staff members who complete a security certification. Based on the findings in the 8th Annual Information Security Trends and other studies, CompTIA decided that:
- An advanced-level security exam would be good to pursue.
- The exam should be performance-based.
- The exam should fit into other vendors’ certification(s) as an elective.
- The exam should concentrate on new technologies that demand a concentration in security aspects, such as IPv6, VoIP, and SaaS.
- Acceptance of the exam would depend on the U. S. government’s acceptance of the new certification and its applicability to Department of Defense Directive (DoDD) 8570. According to CompTIA’s IT and CyberSecurity white paper, “Those seeking compliance with IA Technical Level III and IA Management Level II of U.S. DoD Directive 8570.01-M. (CASP is proposed to the 8570 Directive for these workforce categories.)”
The result was the CASP, the first certification in the Master Series of certifications released by CompTIA. The CASP exam will certify that the successful candidate has the technical knowledge and skills required to conceptualize, design, and engineer secure solutions across complex enterprise environments.
The CAS-001 exam is available at Pearson Vue testing centers, and is currently available in English only.
How the CASP exam is structured
The CASP exam is a single exam that consists of multiple-choice, scenario-based, and performance-based questions. For the performance-based items, the CASP candidate is given a scenario/problem and prompted to push a button to launch a simulated environment that is created via software.
The candidate has 150 minutes to complete 80 questions. Upon completion, the candidate is given a Pass/Fail score. No numerical score is given. The domain distribution for the CASP exam is as follows:
Enterprise Security – 40%
Risk Management, Policy/Procedure, and Legal – 24%
Research and Analysis – 14%
Integration of Computing, Communications, and Business Disciplines – 22%
Where the CASP fits among security certifications
CompTIA has created a great graphic (shown below) that shows the CASP certification sitting between CompTIA’s Security+ certification and (ISC)2′s CISSP certification.
The way that CASP requires you to put real-world applications into abstract concepts elevates it above the Security+. The CASP exam expects candidates to take the core security concepts introduced in the Security+ exam and apply them to work situations. For example:
- In Security+, you should know the ports used by the HTTP and HTTPS protocols.
- In CASP, you should know the same ports, but you will have to apply them in a router or firewall configuration. This will include opening and closing the appropriate ports via rules or ACLs and ensuring that the rules are in the correct order.
- In Security+, you should know when you would need to deploy a firewall.
- In CASP, you should know when to deploy a firewall, but you would also need to deploy it in the appropriate location and know where to deploy any other devices/servers located in the DMZ/perimeter network.
After taking the CASP exam, I will agree that it’s harder than the Security+, but I feel it is equally as difficult as the CISSP exam. The CISSP exam is difficult in the breadth of knowledge that a test candidate must possess, but in the end, it is still just a standard multiple-choice, knowledge-based exam. Including performance-based items in the CASP takes this exam to the next level, even surpassing the CISSP exam when it comes to difficulty (in my opinion).
So while I accept CompTIA’s graphic and its placement of the CASP in the security certification world, I also feel that time will be kind to the CASP exam as it becomes more widely understood and accepted in the industry.
How to Prepare for the CASP Certification
Practical experience is needed for this exam, including:
- Experience configuring ACLs/rule lists for router, firewalls, and so on.
- Experience deploying hardware in a network. Specifically, you’ll need to understand WHERE hardware is deployed in a given network diagram based on requirements.
- The ability to recognize when devices are under attack by viewing logs, including understanding what type of attack is occurring, the identity of the attacker, how to protect against the attack, and where to deploy the protection.
- The ability to verify file security from a given hash value.
You can view a few multiple-choice practice questions on the CompTIA web site here: http://certification.comptia.org/Training/testingcenters/samplequestions/CASP-Practice-Questions.aspx
We at Transcender have created a wonderful product in our Cert-CAS-001 practice test. Our practice test includes simulation items that will better prepare you for the performance-based items on the live exam. At the time of this post, no other practice test provider includes these types of items in their CASP product.
Also, Sybex has released a great study resource: the CASP CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner Study Guide by Michael Gregg and Billy Haines, which I reviewed in a previous blog post. It is a great place to get started, even if you’re still accumulating those five years of hands-on technical security experience recommended as a prerequisite by CompTIA.
I hope this helps you to take the next step in your career and pursue the CASP certification. If you have any CASP-related questions, feel free to drop me a line!
Tags: exam tips, Performance-Based Testing, Study hints, test-taking tips
If you’ve taken a Microsoft test in the past, you’ve experienced the Single Answer Multiple Choice and Multiple Answer Multiple Choice questions. While this is a tried and true psychometric technique, a multiple choice question does not always fully test a candidate on his or her knowledge of the material. You may remember that a few years ago Microsoft launched performance-based testing (PBT) segments with their multiple choice questions. The 83-640 exam included a series of tasks that tested candidates’ abilities in a virtual environment. Although this exam and item type have since retired, most of us that had the chance to experience this item at a test center agreed it was the ultimate test of a candidate’s skill. And I, for one, very much doubt we’ve seen the end of the PBT item.
With a similar goal in mind, by which the certification exam truly separates the experienced IT professional from the pack, Microsoft has added several new item types to exams over the last few months. Well, I say new, but some of these item types are more like “vintage” and you just may have not seen them in a while. You can view the entire list here:
Active Screen – These questions are good at testing candidates’ knowledge because you see an actual screen. The downside is the candidate does not need to know where to go in the software to access the screen, the task is limited to the screen that’s provided.
Build List and Reorder – This is one you may recognize if you’ve taken Microsoft exams for as long as I have. This question type is used to test whether a candidate knows which steps are needed to perform a task and the order in which they should be performed.
Case Studies – Case studies allow a candidate to be tested based on different real-life business scenarios. Microsoft used case studies for the Windows 2000 Server and some Windows Server 2003 exams. If you do not have a high level of reading comprehension, you will find case studies to be time consuming. Several testing candidates who did not read rapidly enough struggled and ran out of time with this question type. Microsoft has addressed this issue by no longer timing each case study separately from the rest of the exam questions. While time management is still important, you get one clock for the whole exam, allowing you to spend a bit more time reading through the case study.
Create-a-tree – Similar to the Build List and Reorder question type, these questions test your knowledge on structures and organization. This question type first appeared in the NT 3.5 and NT 4.0 tests.
Drag and Drop – This is a basic matching question. This question type allows a candidate to be tested on multiple concepts. It also appears on exams from other vendors, such as CompTIA and Novell.
Hot Area – This question is similar to an Active Screen question. You have to click one or more places within a graphic to satisfy the question requirements.
Multiple choice – You have seen this question type zillions of times. I believe it was invented in 1,000,000 BC. This item type presents a scenario, a question, and a minimum of four answer options. A prompt within the item stem (or sometimes at the end of the question) will indicate the number of possible correct answers.
Repeated answer choices – These questions (which we called “extended matching” in our previous post, Multiple options beyond multiple choice) are presented in a series. Each question in the series has the exact same answer options. Each question is worded slightly differently, so the answer could be different for each question — or it could be the same correct answer across the questions in the series.
Simulations – These type of questions actually first appeared in Microsoft Vista exams. This question type does a good job of testing the candidate’s knowledge of navigating to the problem and choosing the correct answer. This type of question is better than an Active Screen or Hot Area because the candidate has to navigate the software or OS to find the screen or page that contains the correct choice, and is thus tested on his or her hands-on knowledge. If you do not know how to get to the right set of options, you will not be able to answer the question. The limitation to this type of question is that there may be more than one way to solve a problem. A simulation question may want you to fix a problem with a GUI tool, even though you could correctly solve the task with a PowerShell cmdlet or by running a command from the command prompt.
Short answer code – This type of question will force a candidate to actually type the correct answer into a text box or blank line. This type of question will test your knowledge of the correct code use, the proper order of the code and syntax of the code. We haven’t actually encountered this item type in the wild yet, but we’re keeping our eyes peeled.
Best answer – These type of questions appeared in the original NT 3.5 exams. It is a standard multiple choice question that may have one or more correct answers — you have to pick the BEST answer. People complained back in the day on the NT 3.5 exams as to what constitutes the BEST answer. I believe the debate will continue if Microsoft revives this item type on tests.
If you are planning to take a Microsoft exam in the near future, you may see several of the above question types – or none of them. If you have an issue with any of the types of questions on your Microsoft exam, please let Microsoft know in the comments section at the end of your exam. Also, if you liked a particular item type on an exam, please take a few seconds to let Microsoft know. And as always, we welcome any questions or comments you might have, and will do our best to reply or point you in the right direction.
Tags: casp, CompTIA, Performance-Based Testing
As many of you know, there is quite a bit of buzz over CompTIA’s Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP) exam. Last year, CompTIA launched the CASP exam as the next level in its security-related certification products. For years, IT professionals have looked to CompTIA to provide vendor-neutral certifications, the most popular of which are the A+, Network+, and Security+ certifications. But the CASP exam takes CompTIA’s offerings to the next level.
Last month, I finally had a chance to take the CASP exam. I knew going into the exam that I would see what CompTIA has called performance-based testing (PBT) items. Well, I wasn’t disappointed, as my first question on the exam was a PBT item. Overall, I thought these item types had the appropriate level of complexity and covered a wide-range of topics. So what did they look like? For the most part, they were drag-and-drop items that involved matching things up or placing items in the right location. There were others that required particular actions to be taken at a command prompt or at the server level. The only specifics I can share about these items, without violating the Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), is that PBT items take the WHAT from your usual multiple choice items and place the focus on the HOW or the WHERE.
For example, consider SubObjective 1.5 from the CASP Exam Guide: Distinguish among security controls for hosts. A bullet point in this SubObjective is Host hardening, which includes the Standard operating environment, Security/group policy implementation, Command shell restrictions, Warning banners, and Restricted interfaces. A possible PBT question that would fit into this SubObjective is a graphically presented task where you enable and configure the appropriate group policies for password length, password age, and password lockout.
In addition to the PBT items, the exam still includes the old stand-by multiple-choice questions. These, however, were a bit more expansive than the typical questions included in the A+, Network+, or Security+ exams. I often found myself reading and re-reading the options while trying to eliminate incorrect answers. I can remember thinking that this exam seemed much harder than the CISSP exam, not because of its length, but because of its depth. It takes those tidbits of security knowledge that all security professionals must know and expects you to APPLY them. For example, you not only need to know the different types of hacker attacks, you should know HOW to recognize the attacks which are occurring, WHAT tools to deploy to protect against those attacks, HOW to deploy them, and WHERE they should be deployed.
You can expect between 70-80 questions total, including the PBT questions. When I was done with the exam I was a little nervous, because truthfully, I felt it could have gone either way. I made an audible sigh of relief when I learned I had passed; to say that I was happy would be putting it mildly! I can’t give you my score, because CompTIA doesn’t give you one – this exam is just graded as PASS or FAIL. (But you know, maybe I didn’t really want to see that score anyway!)
So what can you do to prepare for the CASP? After you go over the exam objectives on the CompTIA Web site, I would start with CASP CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner Study Guide by Michael Gregg and Billy Haines recently published by Sybex (an imprint of Wiley). Look for my comprehensive review of this guide in April. Next, take some time to research the day-to-day tasks of the security professional. I can assure you: if you don’t have any experience in security-related tasks, you should not take this exam until you have had some time to expose yourself to these tasks.
With that said, I can tell you that I am working diligently to create Transcender’s practice test for the CASP exam. And we will be including some interactive items that simulate what you will see in the live exam. My experience in taking this exam and working on our practice test so soon afterward can only help you, so keep an eye out for our announcement regarding our CASP practice test, which should come in May….and in the meantime, start prepping today!
Tags: 83-640, Performance-Based Testing
Last month, when I was working in our Transcender booth at Microsoft TechEd, a customer approached and asked me, “Dude, where’s my 83-640 test?” That’s pretty much a direct quote, and yes, I pretty much liked him instantly, so we got to talking. It seems this gentleman scheduled the 83-640 test (MCTS: Windows Server 2008, Active Directory Configuration) at a Prometric center in the U.S., but when he arrived to take his exam, he had to take the multiple-choice form of the test with test number 70-640. The performance-based lab exam wasn’t available.
Yo Microsoft, what gives? While at TechNet, I put on my detective shades and went looking for answers by quizzing fellow conference-goers. Attendees didn’t hesitate to share their theories as to why the 83-640 exam was suspended. One guy said the government did not want Microsoft using this new testing technology; it was making the boys at the CIA a little too nervous. Another person said a test taker drank a 20-oz Dr. Pepper with some Pop Rocks before taking her test and had a nervous breakdown from the sugar overload, and is now suing Microsoft for a gazillion dollars.
Government conspiracies? High-dollar law suits? I figured it was time to separate fact from fiction. So I decided to visit the Microsoft Learning booth at TechEd and ask the sources closest to this matter. Here’s what I learned:
The 83-640 has been temporarily suspended. As you know, the 83-640 test has two parts: a multiple-choice part and a performance-based lab section. The performance-based part asked you to complete several tasks on a virtual machine running Windows Server 2008. Several test takers reported problems accessing the virtual machine during the test. Others experienced performance issues during the exam. In response, Microsoft is tweaking the test to address all reported issues and improve the delivery of the 83-640 exam and any future performance-based tests.
Go directly to the Microsoft FAQs for details.
There are no exact figures available regarding the number of failed 83-640 attempts, however, if you drove a long distance to a test center, took the day off from work to take the exam, and your test failed to launch, it wouldn’t matter how many other people had this problem. You would be madder than a wet hornet! Microsoft understands this, and is committed to providing a stable test platform. I personally did not have a problem with the 83-640 test, but I’ve heard from a couple of people who did and they were less than thrilled.
During our chat at TechEd, Microsoft employees assured me that they are committed to fixing the 83-640 test. They also let me know they’re committed to the performance-based testing concept. If I were a betting man (and I am), I’d lay odds that we’ll see new (and improved) PBT exams in the near future.
The mystery of the missing 83-640 test has been solved. There is no government conspiracy or lawsuit against Microsoft. In fact, drinking a Dr. Pepper and chasing it with some Pop Rocks before a test will not give you a nervous breakdown; I know, I’ve done it many a time.
By the way, the Microsoft Born To Learn blog post, dated May 7, 2010, discusses 83-640, and gives you a number of Official Helpful Tips and Contact Information if you’re trying to register for 83-640 or 70-640. While we’re always happy to answer your questions, when it comes to the 83-640, we’re likely to direct you to Microsoft’s official blogs & forums for the latest information.
Until the next conspiracy theory rolls around!
Tags: ccnp, Performance-Based Testing
Troy McMillan, our CCNA / CCNP trainer-in-residence, and Robin Abernathy, our Network+ / Server+ / ITIL / PMI / CCNA SME (sometimes I think my desk will collapse from the combined weight of acronyms), both had a lot to say about the 642-832 TSHOOT exam beta. The live exam is scheduled to release April 30, 2010.
The first comment was that they saw radically different exam formats. Robin, who tested in a different city than Troy, took the traditional multiple-choice test, with case studies and some simulations thrown in – in other words, an updated 642-level exam of the kind we’ve seen for the past several years. Troy, on the other hand, experienced the new “trouble ticket” exam format. It’s been widely reported in the blogsphere by now, but Troy went into it cold.
This exam was entirely virtualized, and consisted of 16 interactive simulated networks with fully operational virtual routers, switches, and hubs. Each “trouble ticket” scenario had a set of three multiple-choice questions that had to be answered before moving on to the next ticket.
The questions for each ticket had a consistent format:
- What device is the problem?
- What is the nature of the problem?
- What command(s) will solve the problem?
The kicker is, the option you select in the first question for the ticket affects the answer options you’ll see presented for the second and third questions. In other words, this exam is adaptive to the nth degree.
So, for example, if you said Router 5 was the problem in the first of the three questions, the options presented in the second question would be router problems. However, if you said that Switch 2 was the problem in the first ticket, the options presented in the second question would be switch problems. Furthermore, if in the second question you said the problem was a routing protocol, the options presented in the third question would be commands to solve a routing protocol issue. But if you said the nature of the problem was IP addressing, the third question would present commands for solving an IP address issue. So if you pick the wrong option in #1 or #2, there is no way that you can correctly answer #3 – you’ll have to start from the beginning of the sequence.
This is both exciting and challenging. Cisco may have come up with a braindump-proof CCNP exam. At the same time, candidates are going to need new techniques to tackle this exam, because time spent figuring out how it works is time wasted in the exam room. Troy reports he spent so much time looking at configurations and figuring out how the darn thing worked that he didn’t even finish all the tickets. And he was three questions in before he realized that while the topology stays the same for every question, the configuration may change on the individual devices for each ticket scenario. So it’s important to note that configurations do not carry over. The router that was causing the issue in Ticket 4 may have a completely different (and correct) configuration in Ticket 6.
Network World blogger Wendell Odom scooped the exam format in his post on 2/1/10. As he points out, we haven’t seen the exam release yet, so we can’t speak for sure on the format. We can confidently predict that the released version of the exam will contain the virtual trouble ticket item type. However, we can’t predict if the format will roll out in every region, or even to every testing center within a region, as Robin’s experience shows.
In Wendell’s latest post on the TSHOOT beta format, he went on to specify the pitfalls he encountered with the trouble ticket concept, and throws out several excellent ideas for troubleshooting in the test environment. To those ideas, we’ll add a few more:
- Thoroughly memorize all ping, show, and trace commands. Not every Cisco IOS command is supported on the test simulator. (We’re not sure if you can get a master list of supported commands beforehand.)
- Know your methodologies backwards and forwards. This is a test that has to be grasped at the concept level, not by memorization.
- Practice, practice, practice.
- Download and thoroughly review the TSHOOT study materials provided by Cisco:
- TSHOOT Exam Instructions (PDF)
- TSHOOT Exam Topology (PDF)
- TSHOOT Exam Tutorial
- TSHOOT Exam Online Demo
(Robin and Troy didn’t have any of these resources going into the beta – but they sure would have helped!)
We’ll keep you posted on the live version release and any helpful study material as it becomes available. Until then, happy CCNP’ing!
–Troy and Robin
Tags: 83-640, Performance-Based Testing
There’s been a steady trickle of comments and customer emails on our post 83-640 versus 70-640: Which MCTS: Windows Server 2008, Active Directory Configuration is which? since we published it in February. The actual 83-640 exam went live in May. Since then, people have been writing to say they can’t find the new objectives online, that they can’t find the exam offered at a local testing center, or that they don’t understand how the virtual lab is scored and don’t want to lose points by clicking around to find the right command.
First, I want to point out that we’re not affiliated with Microsoft, and so we can’t help you directly. But we’re more than happy to help you find the right place to go. Most of the information you need has been published in the last year on Microsoft’s Born To Learn blog, and the blog team is very responsive to comments and questions.
As a first step – and this sounds dumb, but believe me, sometimes our eyes trick us – if you don’t see 83-640 listed on Prometric’s web site, be sure you’ve scrolled to the bottom of the list of tests. As James Seymour points out, 83 falls below 70, so you’ll have to scroll past all the other tests first.
If it’s not listed in your area, try contacting your test provider by phone and asking if they’re currently administering the 83-640 test. Microsoft is working region by region to ensure that test providers have the ability to run it in their labs. If your region isn’t supporting it, you may have to take 70-640 instead. Again, this post in Born To Learn is the place to find that answer.
The way that Microsoft scores tests is proprietary. However, Liberty Munson (Microsoft’s psychometrician) has specifically stated that the number of clicks or commands you enter in a scenario on your way to the goal do NOT affect the score. Only the configuration that you submit affects the score.
There is no per-simulation-item time limit. There is an overall time limit for the exam, and for some exams the simulations are grouped in a separately timed section. However, you will not be penalized for spending a long time on one simulation. Either you complete the task successfully and you earn the point or points associated with that simulation, or you don’t. The only disadvantage to spending a long time on one simulation is that you are eating up time you could be spending on another item.
Finally, you don’t need to find the “new” exam objectives, because there aren’t any. The material being tested, and the objectives, are unchanged from 70-640. Only the way in which the test is administered has changed. You can see our team member’s comments on the pilot version of this exam for a preview of the experience.
We hope this helps. Keep the comments coming!
Tags: 70-113, 70-640, 83-640, MCTS, Performance-Based Testing
Editor’s note: from April 21 to May 7, 2010, you can take the Microsoft Learning Testing Center Survey here: http://deploy.ztelligence.com/start/survey/survey_taking.jsp
As a follow-up to our previous post, here are some points to clarify any confusion between the two tests (70-640 and 83-640) for MCTS: Windows Server 2008, Active Directory Configuration.
- 83-640 will gradually replace 70-640: MCTS: Windows Server 2008, Active Directory Configuration, in 2009. The study objectives are the same for both exams; the content has not changed, just the format.
- The lab-based exam was beta tested as the 70-113 pilot.
- Microsoft is using the 83-### numbering scheme to distinguish lab-based exams from the traditional multiple-choice and interactive item-type exams (70-###) and the Microsoft Certified Application Specialist simulation-type exams (77-###).
- To date, 83-640 has only been rolled out in three countries: Ireland, Singapore, and Canada. There is no word yet on when it will be released in the rest of the world.
- In areas where 83-640 hasn’t been released, test-takers will take 70-640. Both versions count equally toward certification.
- The lab-based exam also includes traditional multiple-choice item types. Microsoft does not plan to discontinue that type of question at this time, since some points are better tested in a question/answer format than by demonstrating a technique.