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BlueWolf's Howl

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March 30, 2003

Double or Nothing

Okay...so Bill won the first round of this bet - as you may have figured from my silence...

It hasn't been easy. I'm not used to flunking any kind of tests. The hardest part of all this has been dealing with that.

I know the material. I understand the material. I use the material in my job every day. So what is wrong? I have to figure that out and fix it before I lose any more money on tests.

I started by comparing my NT MCSE studies with my current studies for the W2K MCSE. What was I doing differently that I'm not doing now? It was very hard to figure out, but the only thing I'm doing differently is forgetting that it's a battle. I passed the first two tests by going slowly and reading each question. I looked for the "trick" in each question. As soon as I found the "trick," I was able to figure out which answer was correct. I think I forgot that part.

The Cisco exams have spoiled me. They're very straight-forward. You have to know and understand the material. Some of the questions ask you to answer in a way that is performance-based : you type the command into the command line - just as you would in real life. The diagram-style questions and drag-and-drop scenarios are clear and realistic. You would set up a diagram just like you would if you were making your logical map in Visio. The study guides and sample tests prepare you for this and you learn and execute. If you know the material, you will pass the test. It's that simple. Knowing the material isn't simple, but the testing of that material is simple. There's no "trick" to the questions needed to "make it harder." Learning all that material is hard enough.

It may be that they have different reputations. The Cisco certs are more respected than the Microsoft certs. Apparently the exam security was compromised with NT through brain dumps and other methods. You constantly hear in the Microsoft study material that "Microsoft has raised the bar" with the W2K exams. And yes, it was frustrating to see people jumping on the bandwagon and passing the tests without really knowing the material or understanding how to use the material on a real network. But, the "fix" should not have been to take material out of the footnotes of the Resource Kit to use as the basis of questions on an exam. The "fix" should not have been to make the questions "tricky" ... In the real world, you have scenarios like : you want to implement X on your network. How do you do it CORRECTLY? Questions that say you want to implement X and you do this, this and this (not the correct steps)...what will the result be? *rolls eyes* Jeez...are you wanting us to learn how to do it INCORRECTLY too? Oh...and don't forget the scenario where you upgrade only SOME of the servers. Who does that? Every company I know buys licenses for all the servers at once. You either upgrade or don't. You don't half upgrade...

Well...now that I've bitched and moaned about it, I feel much better now. So it's back to the books with an acute awareness of the potholes on the road to a passing exam. I must remember > this is a Microsoft exam. Look for the trick.

I'm scheduled to retake the test on Tuesday morning. I only missed passing by two questions. All I have to do is get two more questions right than I did last time and I can put *that* test behind me.

THEN I can retake the other exam that I ran out of time on... At least I know the trick to that one now. The exam gives you only 90 min (last time I ran out of time on it). If you read the entire question on the scenario questions, you WILL run out of time. The only way to pass that test is to mark those questions, read from the bottom up and look for what they're asking, and answer them quickly. That will allow you to get to the short questions and answer all of those (hopefully you can get enough right and pass on just the shorties). THEN you can go back to the questions you marked (if you have any time left) and read the entire thing and get a few of those with solid answers. Oh...you know where I found the hint about reading from the bottom up? I found it in one of the comments about the test on Brain Buzz. Apparently there are a lot of people flunking that test because of the long questions and the short time restriction.

Well...it's back to studying... Hopefully this time I'll pass. I've invested too much time and money to give up now. I have to find the "trick" and use it to my advantage instead of having it used against me...

Posted by BlueWolf on March 30, 2003 09:25 AM