Time is running out to upgrade your MCPD Visual Studio 2008 (.NET 3.5) and earn the MCPD: Azure Developer

July 18, 2014 at 12:46 pm | Posted in Certification Paths, Microsoft | Leave a comment
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In a little under two weeks, the exams that allow you to upgrade your MCPD certifications in Visual Studio 2008 (the .NET Framework 3.5 technologies) will expire, never to return. But if you act between now and July 31, 2014, you can still sign up to take a single upgrade exam, and thereby pole-vault over the many MCTS 2010 requirements.

Exam 70-521:  If you already have a  MCPD: Windows Developer 3.5 or MCPD: Enterprise Application Developer 3.5 certification, this exam upgrades you to Windows Developer 4.

Exam 70-523: If you already have a MCPD: ASP.NET Developer 3.5 or MCPD: Enterprise Application Developer 3.5 certification, this exam upgrades you to Web Developer 4.

To add an extra layer of confusion, Microsoft simplified (thankfully) the names for its Visual Studio 2010 certifications once it started developing the Visual Studio 2012 certifications. If you go to the exam detail pages, you’ll see the upgrade certifications called MCPD .NET 4 Windows Applications Developer and  MCPD .NET Framework 4 Web Developer; however, these correspond to the MCPD titles listed above.

Other Visual Studio exams expiring this month are:

  • Exam 70-506: TS: Silverlight 4, Development
  • Exam 70-512: TS: Visual Studio Team Foundation Server 2010, Administration
  • Exam 98-362: Windows Development Fundamentals

This Azure Pro exam also expires in July. This exam is one of the four required to earn the MCPD: Microsoft Azure Developer certification (along with 70-513 and 70-516, which do not retire):

  • Exam 70-583: PRO: Designing and Developing Microsoft Azure Applications

Finally, it’s your last chance to upgrade your MCDST XP or EDST Vista certifications to Windows 7.

  • Exam 70-682: Pro: Upgrading to Windows 7 MCITP Enterprise Desktop Support Technician

Happy testing!


Why is there a New Question Type in my MCSD Practice Test?

November 12, 2013 at 5:27 pm | Posted in Microsoft, Study hints | 2 Comments
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I know it’s been a while since my last post. But since I’ve finally come up for some air  after writing our practice tests for the Microsoft Developer track, I thought I’d fill you in on a bit of what I’ve been doing in my top-secret hacker lair. (Spoilers: it definitely contains some sharks with frickin’ lasers)*.

Fly in my Soup?

“Is that a new question type in my soup?”

Seriously though, we have been busy re-creating our practice test engine to mimic the new Microsoft question types. We’ve known about the advent of color-coding and these new question types since last summer, but with the onslaught of new exam titles that needed corresponding practice tests added to our inventory, dropping everything to emulate the live exam experience seemed a far-off goal. But with the releases of our Cert-70-480 and Cert-70-481 products, we decided to go for broke.

Without further ado, here’s a quick overview of the short answer, list-and-reorder, and code-based case study item types.

Short Answer

If you bought our Cert-70-461 practice test (Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012), you probably saw some of this type of question already. What makes this item type different is that the questions are very specific, and thanks to color-coding, very readable!

Short Answer w/Color Coding

Much better than the colorized version of It’s A Wonderful Life!

This type of question is all about writing the code, not just knowing the concepts behind the code. The next item type also addresses “the code and only the code” mantra.

List and Reorder

We’ve always had this type of question in our practice tests. With the advent of the updated MCSD certification track, we added color formatting to our previously monochrome items, and made the questions even more code-centric.  This raises the difficulty bar somewhat for newbies, but is a real treat for the die-hard developers that have long awaited the exams that test you only on how to write code. Simple request, really.

List and Reorder question

Just the code, ma’am.

Code-Based Case Studies

That’s right. Here comes the pain (and realism) of developing applications in real life: inserting code at the right place. Rarely will you have the pleasure of designing an application on your own. More often than not, you will be required to plug the hole left by another developer who got a cushy job as a business analyst at a local startup company. It’s up to you to get the code working without help, and no one cares what you have to do to get it working. The new case study item type tests your skills at knowing both what code to add and where to add it.

Code-Based Case Study

“Now it’s getting REAL up in here!”

Whew…!  And that didn’t even cover the new simulation items we added.

Let me know what you think of these new tricks in the Transcender toolbox.

*Hey, it makes for better imagery than my beige office cubicle!

Until next time,

Josh aka Codeguru

MSCD – A New Certification with an Old Heart of Gold

February 8, 2013 at 9:07 am | Posted in Certification Paths, Microsoft | 31 Comments
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Disclaimer: Exam retirements are subject to change without notice. Please go to the official Microsoft Retired exams list to confirm or deny a specific test’s retirement date, as it may have changed since this post was originally published.

(Editor’s note: This post belongs to our ongoing series about the new generation of Microsoft certifications. See also Customer asks: Is now the time to study for Windows Server 2008 certification, or Server 2012?, Don’t wait to finish your MCTS or MCITP: Microsoft retiring exam tracks, and Everything old is new again: the MCSE and MCSA are dead (long live the MCSE and MCSA).)

Having wandered the wilderness of Java and CIW certification for some years, I didn’t move into Microsoft developer certs until about 2002. At that time, the MCSD (known then as Microsoft Certified SolutioN Developer) was a catch-all certification, requiring a wide array of Visual Basic, DCOM, and ASP knowledge. Its prestige was based on the complexity and intensity of the exam objectives, and not whether these skills were required by a specific job role in the real world. Most Microsoft developers I knew focused on a type of application, whether it was Windows- or Web-based — not the entire gamut of Microsoft developer technology.

For that reason, few developers were surprised when Microsoft announced new developer certifications for .NET  that  focused on skill sets related to actual job roles.  This change occured during Microsoft’s overall revamp of its certifications that resulted in the demise of the Windows NT and Server 2003-era MCSE. The “next generation” developer certifications were branded as the TS (Technology Specialist) level exams and the newly minted MCPD (Microsoft Certified Professional Developer). But in doing away with the old MCSD, Microsoft also lost the recognition the acronym had gained over the years.

So what could Microsoft do but find a way to join those job roles with their former reputation, like some cheesy romantic comedy?

Pretty Woman and the MCSD

Is that a shiny MCSD  for my hard work?

For 2012, enter the Microsoft Certification SolutionS Developer (noticed the new s?).  The acronym is also MCSD, but each certification is focused on an application type.* That way you can have your MCSD and eat it, too.
Continue Reading MSCD – A New Certification with an Old Heart of Gold…

They’re back: the return of the developer exam case study

November 16, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Posted in Microsoft, Study hints | 1 Comment
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As I first noted in a blog post early last year,  70-519 (Pro: Designing and Developing Web Applications Using .NET Framework 4) heralded the case study’s triumphant return to developer exams. Before you open our practice test and lapse into drop-jaw silence, or (worse still) enter a catatonic fugue state during the live exam, I thought it worthwhile to prepare you once again:


Although the case study has been the mainstay of many Microsoft administrator exams, the last developer exam with case studies was from the retired MCSD track: 70-300: Analyzing Requirements and Defining Microsoft .NET Solution Architectures. Developers seeking certification have been spared the case study for almost eight years (which is a century in technology years). So it’s understandable that we’re all a bit rusty, and those more nervous test-takers are forgiven for their premature hyperventilation.

But it’s really not that bad. As a matter of fact, this format will drastically reduce the length of many questions. Rather than having to parse a detailed scenario for each question, you will be presented one slightly longer scenario with a series of 6 to 12 brief questions based on it. At first a case study may seem intimidating, but because it is divided into sections and is referenced by multiple questions, the mental swap-space is greatly reduced.

The Transcender blog already has posts on case studies (here and  here), so I won’t repeat those details here. But I will add my own two test-taking tips:

  • Skim Only.  That’s right. Reading a case study is lot like gorging on eggnog and then wondering why you feel so bloated. Case studies are not intended to be read; they are meant to be referenced to as you answer a question. Just as you don’t read the dictionary from beginning to end, but rather flip straight to the section you need, you should read the case study’s overview, skim over each section, and jot down any details that stick out. You should  come back to read a sub-section fully after you read the associated question(s). Many case studies contain lines or even paragraphs of extraneous detail that you don’t need to know to answer the question. If you skim, you’ll have a better chance of answering every question in the case study rather than running out of time before you get to the last two.
  • Need for Speed. Each case study is a separate testlet with its own time limit. Once that time expires, you will be forced to move onto the next portion of the test. Thus, answer all questions first with your knee-jerk responses, and then go back through them again more carefully. Sometimes, after skimming the case study, I just answer all questions based upon my memory (no more than a minute per question), then go back to each question and re-read the pertinent section of the case study to confirm I selected the best answer.

On some older Microsoft exams, I felt the case study itself was just window dressing; I found I could often answer the case study’s questions on their own merits.  These days, there are so many Web technologies that the best approach to a given problem depends heavily on  the specific requirements of a scenario.  Those manifold details about existing infrastructure, business requirements, technical requirements, and the size of the user base become key to selecting the best approach.  After all, real-life development never occurs in a vacuum, but within specific business processes and structures. The case study serves to focus on specific best practices and available technologies. As such, I actually welcome its return to Microsoft developer tests.

–Josh Hester

A new year, a new sale: Discounts on retiring exams through March 31

January 16, 2009 at 12:28 pm | Posted in Kaplan IT Training news | Leave a comment
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Is 2009 the year you’ll finish your Microsoft Certified Application Developer (MCAD), Microsoft Certified Solution Developer (MCSD), or Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA)? If so, you need to focus on scheduling and completing the exams in the next three months. Microsoft is retiring many of the associated exams for these certifications on March 31, 2009. (For a complete list of retiring exams, click here.)

Accordingly, we have discounted our Transcender practice tests and related training content for these exams by 40%. Our website reflects the discounted prices.

Shop here for MCAD practice tests and learning material.

Shop here for MCSD .NET practice tests and learning material.

Shop here for MCDBA practice tests and learning material.

And for a detailed look at the new generation of Microsoft certifications, check out Troy’s excellent post here.

Can I have fries with that .NET upgrade?

December 1, 2008 at 9:35 am | Posted in Certification Paths, Microsoft | Leave a comment
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Editor’s note: In honor of the real Turkey Day, here’s the follow-up to Josh’s previous post detailing trends in Microsoft’s .NET certification paths.

If there’s one thing in which to have faith in this downward-spiraling economy, it’s two basic drives of the human soul: the entrepreneurial spirit, and the love of fast food. Ray Kroc would be a good example of such a spirit. Starting as a small-time franchisee of the little-known McDonald’s restaurant in 1953, Mr. Kroc would later take over the restaurant chain from brothers Dick and Mac McDonald and build a multi-billion dollar empire based on busy people’s need for cheap, highly fat-saturated food, served right to the window of your car while idling on precious gas fumes. Okay, uh, let’s drive through that example…

With more cars stalled on the economic highway, IT certification has become more valuable.* As fewer lanes are opening up, the need to merge into existing traffic has become even more treacherous. How do you stretch your certification bucks, with times being what they are? After seeing the banquet of .NET certification options spread out on the table (see previous post), overflowing with casseroles of TS (Technology Specialist) and PD (Professional Developer) certifications, you’re probably wondering if there’s a something akin to a certification drive-thru: quick, cheap, and highly saturated.

If you have the know-how (and a good practice test like Transcender) but not the stomach for a buffet, .NET upgrade exams just may be the answer. Since breaking down the MCAD and MCSD certification into the smaller TS and PD dishes, Microsoft has also been steadily building upgrade exams to ease the transition. The 550 series exams are value meals that provide instant certification gratification for those with the appetite. These upgrade exams are also cheaper than the full-length TS and PD exams, being only $75 apiece (that’s 40% off the original price).

(Click the diagram for a larger image.)

Microsoft .NET 2.0 Upgrade Paths

Microsoft .NET 2.0 Upgrade Paths

Continue Reading Can I have fries with that .NET upgrade?…

Carving out the .NET Certification Path

August 19, 2008 at 8:47 am | Posted in Certification Paths, Microsoft | Leave a comment
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I know it’s a bit early, but in North America we have an autumn holiday tenderly called “Turkey Day.” This is a time where friends and family put aside differences and distances to share a large feast together in the pretense of harmony. The event usually revolves around the traditional meat of turkey, and the carving ceremony in my family has always been a moment of great anticipation and even greater contention.

So, sitting down at the .NET certification table, you might be wondering what happened to the big MCSD/MCAD turkey. Back in the day, the MCSD/MCAD certification represented a master developer, a jack-of-all-trades. So if you wanted a developer certification beyond the MCP, you had to eat the whole MCSD/MCAD turkey, even if you were just a Windows developer or only developed ASP Web sites; you had to eat both dark and white meat, leg and drumstick – everything.

With the introduction of the .NET Framework, the situation became even more complicated. Developing a Windows application became very similar to harnessing Web power, but you had to know everything about both to get the MCSD. The MCAD certification attempted to alleviate the pressure, but it was never as successful a certification as the MCSD.

So for the last few years Microsoft Learning has been busy carving the certification turkey, trying to spread the slices across a much wider spectrum of Microsoft technologies. We’ve entered a new age of smaller, more technology-specific certifications, so that there’s a little bit of certification for everyone to share. Rather than the MCSD and MCAD designation, there are now the TS (Technology Specialist) and PD (Professional Developer) designations.

So how is the certification table currently laid out? Something like this (click the image for a larger version):


Continue Reading Carving out the .NET Certification Path…

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