This morning before I started teaching I came into the training centre early to sit an exam. It is not the ideal way to take exams – I showed up at 7:30, knowing I had to start teaching at 9:00 – but sometimes it is the only way that you can make it work, and besides, pass or fail I am usually a quick exam taker.
When Microsoft Learning announced the new generation of Microsoft certifications a couple of months ago I was surprised to see just how much of what I have already accomplished would count toward my new certifications. Any IT Pro who held the MCITP: Server Administrator (or MCITP: Enterprise Administrator) would already hold the new certification, Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate. Cool. Out of the gate I already had a new cert!
The MCSA is a prerequisite to earn your Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Private Cloud, which in the immediate would be my next goal. The MCSE would require MCSA, plus two more exams (70-247 and 70-246).
The Private Cloud certification would be great, but nobody said it would be easy. Fortunately I had two things going for me:
- I was able to sit the beta teach for class 10751A: Private Cloud Configuration and Deployment with System Center 2012. It was held the second week of April in Redmond, Washington, and I had a great time learning. This class aligns with exam 70-247, which would become irrelevant due to my next point.
- If you have already passed exam 70-659 TS: Windows Server 2008, Server Virtualization then you do not need exam 70-247.
In other words, it looked to me that I was one exam short of earning my MCSE (again). Okay, I can live with that. All I would have to do is pass an exam based on one product… which until recently was actually seven products, each with their own exam (or two). Although I was competent in the older versions of some of these products, and even an expert in one or two, this would be a tall order. I would probably sit this one out for a few months, while working on other things. It was not a question of procrastinating, I just had other things to do… and at $150/exam, it seemed like a waste to spend the money if I didn’t know I had a good chance of passing.
Then I got lucky. Microsoft Learning announced that attendees at Microsoft TechEd 2012 in Orlando would be able to sit the exam for free. Cool! On the one hand, I had absolutely no time to prepare; on the other hand, it was free, and I would be able to see the types of questions they would ask, and then better prepare for the exam.
I have said before and I will say again, it is better to know the product than it is to study for an exam. I broke this rule for this exam, because while I ‘know’ it, I do not consider myself nearly proficient in it to pass an exam without studying. However when you know how to read the questions, once you have seen the exam you will know what you have to study. There were a lot of terms and processes I had confused in my head, and based on my first (unsuccessful but free) viewing of the exam I was able to go back, study those terms and processes, and knock the exam out of the park.
This morning, June 20th, I signed onto the exam computer and was nervous… the questions were still tough, and it was a very rigorous exam – asking questions on several components of System Center 2012. When I hit the ‘End Exam’ button I was not at all confident, but I was certainly moreso than I was last week in Orlando, when the results were in line with that confidence level. When the screen flashed its congratulatory message and told me my score, I was thrilled… and I was an MCSE again.
I have a lot more to do… as the score report states, the Sectional Results …’indicates your relative performance on each section of this exam. We hope this information will help you determine areas, if any, for further development.’ I certainly have several of those, and will be spending a lot of my downtime over the next few months working on these. However in the meantime I can take a deep sigh of relief, knowing that I have earned that elusive MCSE (again).