The Strange Case of Mr. Y

February 17, 2009 at 4:05 pm | Posted in Study hints | 2 Comments
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In addition to being a test taker, practice test developer and analyst, project lead, and nerd extraordinaire, I also handle customer comments for the tests I developed. As the rest of the Transcender team can attest, this can be a thankless and low-reward job. At other times, it can warm even the most callous of hearts. Case in point: the customer I’ll call “Mr. Y.”

Early in the year, I received the following from Mr. Y in regards to our 70-536 practice test:

Typo. The answers listed use a mythical TextChange event rather than TextChanged.

I liked it. Honest and pithy, but with a hint of humor. Mythical. Nice word choice. But by the next day, I had received a slew of comments from Mr. Y:

The “References:” items are not hyperlinked.

Hyperlink error.

Can you please point me to the link in MSDN website that describes about the class System.Web.Service? Can only found namespace System.Web.Services and class System.Web.Services.WebService.

The answer says “Retrieve the ServerCertificate property of the Message object…”. I can’t find this member in the MSDN.

And on and on. Clearly, Mr. Y was earnest in preparing for his exam.

The next day, I received even more emails from him, and even more than that on the next. You get the idea. That Send Feedback link was threatening to consume my mailbox quota. Mr. Y was emailing me with every typo he could find or content question he could muster, 24/7. Sure, he was improving the test for everyone else, but all I could see was the avalanche of typos and correction minutia to slog through. I was also afraid that if he focused too much on the small stuff, he might miss the certification boat. [Editrix’ note: We exhaustively copyedit every test before publication, but as with any written production, errors sometimes sneak in multiply in the night like dust bunnies occur.]

My fears were unfounded. Two months later, the following email was forwarded to me from customer service:

I do not know what is the average [sic] passing mark for this exam, but that was close, frankly, I would not have passed if I have only done doing self-studies alone, cause doing so is like shooting in the dark; as there are too huge an area to be covered.

[I]t was the concepts gained by going thru those wrong answers that I have made and reading thru the explanation and find out more on the MSDN helps provided with your references links.

My first few tests with your practice test were bad, (point gained in order of tests: 60%, 51%, 51%, 78%, 91%, 82%, 93%, 100%), trying my very best not to pattern recognize the answers, but instead, to understand the concepts and explanation that was found.

This ways I have actually understood the concept I needed to, rather than just being exam-smart.

The clouds parted and choral music wafted through the air. I felt we had done our job. After all, it’s why I got into this certification business: to help others get certified. That includes learning topics, but more importantly, building confidence so that on exam day, you are assured of passing. Mr. Y had made my day and gave me a dedicated purpose for my next project.

Sometimes, when I don’t receive so many customer comments, I open my inbox, half-hoping to see another email from Mr. Y about a typo.

–Josh aka Codeguru


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  1. touching :) LOL

    yeah, it takes a lot to review for exams. even more to comment to reviewers. thumbs up to Mr. Y

  2. Practice makes perfect!
    Even the best of sample questions need to be reviewed and revised based on test candidate feedback.
    The honest admittance of test errors and follow-up to correct the same is indeed commendable

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