Finally, one of the Cool Kids

September 24, 2008 at 11:31 am | Posted in Microsoft, Performance-Based Testing | Leave a comment
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After two false starts, I finally took Microsoft’s pilot emulation exam, 70-113 (TS: Windows® Server 2008 Active Directory, Configuring). Everyone else in my department had taken it, so now I’m in like Flynn. [ETA: this test functioned as the pilot for the 83-640, released May 2009.]

I had a blast with the test (possibly because my IT career didn’t ride on its results). The objectives mapped to 70-640. There were two “lab scenarios,” each of which featured between seven to twelve tasks, and then 37 multiple-choice questions. A comment field was provided after each section so you could provide feedback on what was or wasn’t working.

Observations:

  • Realistic scenarios. Some of the tasks were related (one action built on the other), and some were not, but all seemed like the kind of tasks you’d find on a network admin’s to-do list. Even the more obscure or one-time tasks (such as tasks that related to configuring new elements of a domain / account / site / etc.) were all things I’ve seen in Transcender practice tests.
  • Clearly stated tasks. I knew exactly what I was supposed to do, and it was up to me to figure out how to do it.
  • Most the logical resources were available, e.g. if you couldn’t remember a CMD parameter, you could open a run box and type cmd /? and get them that way. (However, you couldn’t go online and look them up.)
  • Complex pre-configuration – already done. Bang, you’ve got your GPOs, your Active Directory groups, your child domains, et al. set up and ready for manipulation.
  • The cool part was that it felt real, or at least as real as the virtual server I play with here. The interface was a little slow and finicky, just like any other virtual server, but perfectly functional.
  • The monitor was on the smallish side, but I got used to opening and then collapsing the task list to keep track of what I was doing; I also scribbled the tasks on the little wipe-board to stay on track, which was a help.

We’ve talked a bit (okay, a lot) about emulations and simulations in this blog. I was actually doing a test run through some simulations we’re developing when I left to take the emulation test. Comparing the two, I come to this conclusion: I can’t and shouldn’t compare the two. Apples, meet oranges. In the continuing effort to evolve fair, comprehensive, and secure IT certification tests, I see a valid use for both technologies, depending on the exam.

I’ll blather on about that in my next post.

-BM Ann

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