Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Upgrade Exam and Second Shot

This year marks 10 years of certification for me. Of course I look back and I have not gotten any new certifications in TWO years. TWO years is huge. Have I been too busy to get any new certification? Have I been a slacker? I felt it was time to continue with some certifications and decided to take the upgrade exam 70-553. This was the first time I ever did an upgrade exam and was abit nervous about it. But I want to share how it went and something else, Microsoft's Second Shot program - which I had hoped to never use.

I first went to the web page for the 70-553 exam to see what areas the exam is going to cover. Take a look at it, there is ALOT to cover. Three different sections of material and in each section huge lists of topics. I looked up all of the different sections and tested things out for a while. I studied for a long time. Dang there are alot of parts to this exam. Am I sure I want to do this upgrade exam? I have been using .NET 2.0 for my own things and for work, so I felt I was ready.

When I went to sign up at Prometric, I first went back and signed up for the Second Shot. I figured that if something happened and the test was harder than I expected I could take it again. Then I entered the Second Shot voucher code into the payment form when I paid for the exam.

I get to the test and go thru the normal things that we all do when the test starts. It was a long test, but I thought I did pretty well, I took my time, checked things over, wrote down some comments on a few questions, marked some for review, and finished up. Time to come to the results and...... I failed. I failed?? I have been doing .NET 2.0 Windows apps and ASP.NET apps for years. How could I fail? I get the results paper and it says something different than other ones. The results of the upgrade exam are the results from the lowest scoring exam (I am paraphrasing). It showed how I scored on each section and my grade was the grade of the lowest one. At first I was a bit upset. I never read anything that says that each section was graded separately. Any other test that I had taken was not like that. How could they do this without warning me?

In the afternoon after cooling off abit, I went back to Prometric to see about scheduling the makeup exam. But the Prometric website still had the test as pending so I could not sign up for it again. By 5pm, the results were on the Prometric website and also showing up on the Certification Planner on the MCP Member site. I mthen went to sign up for it again and got a slot on Friday 13th. That is a lucky day for me, so I figure it would be a good day to retake the exam. To get the right Second Shot code, I had to call Prometric to get the voucher code to enter. By now it was after 5 and was hoping they were open later than this. They were open until 8pm for phone support. I get the code, enter it, and get the makeup exam for free. Thanks for that Microsoft.

So remembering the areas of the exam that I felt I did bad in, I went back to studying and the exam web page to make sure I knew what areas were on the exam, because I did not know if I was going to get some of the same questions, all the same questions, or none of the same questions. I knew I did well on some things and on other parts I struggled. So I studied and studied, looked up things in the MSDN library, and wrote some sample test apps to see what I remembered if it worked one way or another from what I expected. Friday came, the test started, the questions were... hard, I second guessed myself here and there, and passed the test.

The upgrade exams for VS2005 up to VS2008 are actually separate for Windows and Web. I think that this will make them easier since not everyone does both web and Windows. I do both, but not everyone does.

So overall, this was my first experience with an upgrade exam. My first use of the Second Shot program. I wanted to blog about both of these things to show others what to expect. The upgrade exams 70-553 and 70-554 are scheduled to expire on March 31st, 2009, so if you need to take the exams, take them soon. Study hard, sign up for the Second Shot, and good luck.


Anonymous said...

"A lot" is two words.

Unknown said...

I know it is... but this way there will be people that will comment like this to correct me. Thanks.

Unknown said...


The upgrade exams wont be expiring on the 31st just the MCSD exams .. the upgrades will still be valid


Unknown said...

That is good news Niall. It seemed that they were going to stop when I had first looked it over, but I am glad to hear that the upgrades will be around for a while, especially since I want to take the 70-554 next. After lots of studying.

Anonymous said...

So I also just failed the 70-553 test. Passed 2 of the tests, but failed 1.

When I go back in to retake the exam, do I have to retake all 3, or just the one that I failed? Also, did you notice if there were the same of differant questions? I barely failed the one test, so I am trying to get a feel for if I have to study all of the content again, or just for the test that I failed.

Unknown said...

Unfortunately you did what happened to me as well. You get the benefit of doing it all over again. I think that alot of the questions were similar (probably the same). This is one reason I write down what the topic of the questions are when I am taking them because it is easier for me to remember them to get into the car and write down what I remember if I failed, since you cannot have anything in the exam room that you can keep. Good luck on taking it again. I think on my retake I actually missed some of the other ones that I thought were right. So be careful. I know you will want to study for the part that you missed, but make sure to go over the other parts as well.