Dude, where’s my 83-640 test?

July 20, 2010 at 11:18 am | Posted in Microsoft, Performance-Based Testing | Leave a comment
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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!

–George Monsalvatge

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