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MCTS exam taking suggestion

Mar 29

Written by:
Sunday, March 29, 2009 1:55 PM  RssIcon

I've recently written one of the MCTS exam, please read for a small suggestion that might help you write your next certification exam.

I've recently written one of the MCTS exams (Web Forms).  As you can imagine, this requires quite the studying investment (reading, coding, exploring, asking questions, etc).  To help myself make this job easier, I've joined a local study group (ODNC MCTS  Study Group).  Once the study group has completed, eventually you have to "fish or cut bait" and write the exam!  Well, when you do that, I have one small suggestion which could help you out! :>

Prime  your brain - the Reticular Activating Cortex

The premise here is read the answers first, then the question.  This is harder than it sounds, practise first with something like Trascenders or MeasureUp.  There are multiple benefits to doing this:

  • You're automatically thinking about what types of questions could give you these answers, don't fight it, this is good!
  • Chances are good you'll spot one (or two) answers which just doesn't fit and once you read the questions, you'll confirm your suspicions.
  • These "confirmations" do WONDERS for your self-confidence when you're taking the exam!  Hey, anything can help when you're a little down, under stress from the exam and maybe read a few questions you're just totally clueless about.
  • After reading the answers, subconsciously, you're brain's been "primed" and starts thinking about the questions (no, it doesn't hurt :>).
  • As you read the questions, you're brains trying to "slot the answers into the right place" and some of them don't fit, this is good!
  • As you're done reading the question, reread the answers, this time, you hopefully have eliminated one but aren't consciously aware of it, again, that's cool!
  • As you re-read the answers, you'll (hopefully) find yourself just clicking the right answer(s) as you're reading them cause you kind of know/remember what's coming, so you know when you hit the right one!

The beauty of this system works EXCELLENTLY after you've gone through a few sample exams.  Why?  Cause after going through something like Transcenders, you realize there's only so many ways you can be asked about permissions in a web.config file, or the contents of a Connection String or parsing an XML file to rename an attribute's value!  Therefore, you're MUCH better able to help yourself using this system after going through a lot of sample exams.

I hope this helps you a bit with taking your next certification exam!

Now go grab a coffee and get coding! :>


Bonus Tips: (I have to give you extra reasons for reading this blog so you'll come back! :>)

  • Put your watch alarm on for half of the exam time, when it goes off, evaluate where you are, you've got enough time to speed up if you're behind half way, and you can slow down if you're too far ahead.
  • Always check something off before moving into next question, Mark the question so you know what to come back to, this way IF you run out of time, at least you have a 1 in 4 or 1 in 5 chance of getting a right answer instead of a 0% chance if you would have left it blank and ran out of time.  Caveat: You'll HAVE to know if you get negative marks for wrong answers, if you do, don't follow this suggestion.  Current Microsoft exam no longer give you negative marks for wrong answers.
  • For Checkbox questions, always read how many you have to select.
  • If confused about picking an answer, eliminate one by thinking "Microsoft exams are there to help sell MS products, what here counters that?"



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