Saturday, June 03, 2006

Case Study in SQL 2005 PRO Exams

I would like to get feedback from people who have appeared SQL Server 2005 Case Study Exams...

Case Study exams for SQL Server 2005 PRO level certs were introduced to test a professionals ability to synthesize a given situation and make educated judgment on the correct choice... These kind of PRO Case Study exams may not have a clear choice to make and might seem like having more than one correct answers or probably no correct answers... Although, a person who very carefully reads through will realize that there is infact distinct correct answer to the questions...

Many a times when you find multiple correct answer - take a moment and read through the case study carefully, there will be something in the case study which will drive you to the correct answer. If you find nothing to be correct try to go through again and you might find something that will tell you the correct answer...

Many may argue that such questions are trick questions and more of word mangling than actual problem OR why can't MS people be frank, precise and ask what you want? But folks that is the definition of a Technology Specialist (TS) exam... The exams focusing on How To? areas will have a clear cut answer, they will be to the point, there will be not much confusion over there BUT in case of PRO exams they are suppose to get you closer to the REAL WORLD PROBLEM... In real world you do not resolve bugs by someone telling you what the problem is... You also troubleshoot, there are various different factors that play while you trouble shoot but finally you find the problem and resolve the bug... When you design a solution there is never a clear cut best design, there are trade-offs like performance, maintainability, security, extensibility etc... You would try to design with all these factors in consideration but when you are asked that security is a higher priority over performance then your choices change; that is how PRO exams work...

In PRO exams you have to make those hard choices and those become even more reflective in CASE STUDY EXAMS, hence be prepared for Case Study Exams... I am positive that if you go with this kind of expectation, you will not be confused or frustrated, you will probably look at the exam from the right perspective and perhaps apply your professional experience to the situation and do much better than you may expect...

If you have experiences with SQL Server 2005 Case Study Exams write a comment, let us know what you feel, let me know what can be made better and I will passionately take your advise and work on it...

4 comments:

Mehran Nikoo said...

I took 441 and 443 and I liked the format of the case study exams. Existing MCSDs are used to this format (70-100 and 70-300) and I believe this is a requirement for an IT Pro to be able to solve the problem in the context of the business/technical requirements. As you mentioned you might come across a question that can have multiple valid question but when you go back to the case study, you will always find out that there is only one valid answer in that context.

However, I think the number of case studies in the exam was excessive; I got 8 in the beta exam (I know – released version has less than 8), which means you have to be a fairly fast reader. You have to read 3-4 pages of requirements and answer 8 questions in around 20 minutes, considering the time you need to switch between the questions and case study (and remember – you have to do this over and over again!). Now this is a major leap from the real world: you don’t have to read the system requirements and analyse the existing infrastructure in 4-5 minutes!

You also need to consider that candidates are reading multiple (and sometimes similar) case studies so they may mix up the environments and requirements. Again, this is not similar to real world as you don’t analyse a number of applications in 2 hours.

So what I suggest it to keep the number of case studies down to 3 or 4. This way the candidate can focus on the scenario, think of a solution and then answer the questions. I don’t mind (of course - as I have passed those exams already!) if I see less number of bigger case studies.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the previous comment. The Beta exam has too much case-studies (and too long) really difficult to read and understand expecially for who's not an english mother language.
I suggest to reduce the numer of case studies to 3 in order to respect the given time (and in order to go out of the exam room with a terrible headache and problems to the eyes).

Stan Segers said...

I toke the 70-443 recently, all-in-all the exam and cases were pretty okay. Nothing wrong with that.

The one thing I would recommend is a demo testlet attached to the preparation guide. I got in time-trouble (had about 30 seconds left) on the first question, because I wasn't used to testlets.

Anonymous said...

How many questions in the 70-443 exam ? What is the passing score ?