I often tell people who are worried about taking Microsoft exams for fear of failing that I have failed more exams than most people have ever taken – to date over twenty failures, including one miserable exam that I only passed on my fourth attempt.
Don’t worry, I do pass more than I fail. Something else that I often tell people is that there is a lot that you can learn from failing a certification exam – if you are only willing to learn from it. Every time I fail an exam I try to remember the questions that have me stymied, and as soon as I walk out of the exam room I write down whatever I can remember so that I can look them up later on. That is how I learned the ocsetup command. In fact, that is how I learned a lot of the PowerShell cmdlets and command-line switches that I use.
Every exam – in fact, every exam question – gives you the opportunity to comment. Unfortunately I am always reticent; I know that I don’t know everything, and frankly I used to be worried that if I commented that I thought something was wrong, I would be showing my ignorance. This phobia doubled as a ridiculous assumption that someone at Microsoft Learning cares how much Mitch Garvis knows or doesn’t know… beyond the obvious pass/fail requirement of the exam.
I have heard people tell me that they don’t leave comments because they don’t think that people actually read those comments. I can tell you with absolute certainty that someone does… most of the time that someone is a wonderful woman named Liberty Munson.
I first met Liberty in 2006, and have often referred to her as a witch – not because she is anything other than kind and warm, but because I am reasonably sure she can sit an exam on any subject matter in the world with complete ignorance on the subject… and pass. You see, Liberty is a Psychometrician – an expert in exams. Although I still don’t like commenting on exams, occasionally I have a question or comment about something on an exam, and I ask Liberty.
I took issue with a particular question on exam 74-409 (Server Virtualization with Windows Server Hyper-V and System Center). I walked out of the exam with a sigh of relief at 10:45am… and at 4:30 that issue was still nagging at me. I sent an e-mail about it and made my point.
Within an hour I got a reply from Liberty – I had not actually taken my issue to her, but rather to a friend at Microsoft Learning, who passed it on for me. Nonetheless Liberty replied directly. In the hour since I had sent my ‘complaint’, she had tracked down the exact question I was referring to, figured out who had written it, and gotten a response from the item writer. While I completely disagreed with the response (it was not a right/wrong argument, rather a in-scope/out-of-scope argument), I was thrilled that I got the response.
Now here’s the thing… we can’t all e-mail Liberty every time we disagree with a question on an exam. That is simply not how it works. The best way to contact her if you don’t agree with a question is to click that Comment button on your exams. You may not (read: will not) get a direct reply, but is the best way for you to help the Learning Experiences team to maintain the highest level of quality in their exams.
By the way, while I do not know this for sure from personal experience, my best advice is to never play cards with a psychometrician for money… it will never end well