Don't Forget to Take Your Exams

Don't Forget to Take Your Exams

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When we put beta exams in market, it is very important that we get a specified minimum number of people taking these exams to ensure adequate psychometric data for analysis which helps to identify troublesome questions and make a better final version of the exam.

Each day, I receive registration statistics that tell me how many people have registered for a specific exam, how many exams have been delivered, are waiting to be delivered or how many people were "no shows".

I'm writing this post to bring up some important points regarding certification beta exams.

1) If you receive an invitation, please only register for the exam if you honestly believe you are qualified to take the exam.  We have been asked to open these to the general public and against my better judgement, we did so.  Unqualified candidates only mess up the statistics and take seats away from qualified candidates.

2) If you register for an exam, please take it.  Again, you are taking a seat away from someone else who could benefit from the exam and provide valid statistics for us.

3) If you take the beta exam, please ensure you leave quality feedback on the exam questions.  To say that a question sucks and leave it at that is completely useless to both you and us.  We cannot do anything with such a comment, other than to laugh at it.  Seriously.

The exam beta process is designed to ensure a quality exam is released in the end, similar to ensuring quality in a software product by beta testing it.  It is a very important part of the process and one that we take very seriously.

If the trend that is current on the SQL Server exams continues, I will be forced to revert back to not opening the exams to the public and instead restrict them to those who are very serious about certifications and the quality of the exam and experience.

Exam 70-451 has 346 total registrations to date with 29 no shows, 25 cancellations and 200 remaining registrations.  This exam beta ends on the 30 of this month.  That means 200 people have 5 days left to take this exam.  I can understand scheduling for the end of a beta period to ensure adequate preparation time, but never the less, I highly doubt I will see 200 more deliveries before the end of the month.

Gerry

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  • I am one of these 200 remaining "beta testers" of 71-451 and my exam is scheduled for tomorrow. So if nothing unexpected happens, you should see no more than 199 remaining registrations :)

    Best regards

  • Excellent news Georgi,

    Thanks for the post and best of luck!

    Gerry

  • Hi Gerry, I think you are very upset, I understand you point of view and it is clear in your language, but I think threatening candidates that you would restrict the beta exams is not the solution. Instead there other solutions that may work.

    First, I don't think that the beta exams registration are that much, so some unqualified candidates can take seats away from qualified candidates, and if so you can use a priority system that gives a higher priority to the certified professionals in the beta exam field, and a lower one to other certified professionals and lower one to the public.

    Another solution is not to make the exams totally free, but keep the exam fees near $10 or so to decrease the number of fake registrations, and I don't think that this amount of money can annoy serious candidates.

    I hope that would help.

  • Hi Sameh,

    I think you misunderstand my post.  I am not upset nor am I threatening candidates.  I'm merely stating facts and indicating that if candidates want beta exams to remain open to them, they need to honor their registrations.

    What I am implying is that I have heard from some upset candidates who wanted to take the exam but couldn't because the maximum amount of people were registered.

    Also, the current systems in place do not allow is to prioritize beta registration.  Nor can we charge for beta exams, even at a reduced rate of $10, it would not change the situation at all.

    So, hopefully this clears up my intent and provides a little more insight into the process.

    Gerry

  • I am taking mine tomorrow as well so make it 198.

  • Music to my ears Jonathan.

    I suspected most were holding out until the last minute to get max prep time.

    It's what I typically did when I took beta exams.

    Now I'm so busy they come and go before I get a chance to take them.

    Gerry

  • Hello Gerry,

    interesting post. I thought there would be more than 346 people taking the beta and I fully understand that you don't like such a high rate of no-shows. The 71-451 is still listed at the Prometric website, so at least it seems that this time all interested could register.

    I got my first IT certification with a beta exam for Sun (SCJP 5.0) some years ago. They made it public from the beginning, but charged a modest fee (I think it was 30$). But they also offered everyone who passed the exam a free voucher for another exam, so there was another incentive to do it right. Maybe doing something similar would help?

    I'll take my luck on Monday.

     Martin

  • Hi Martin,

    I thought there would be lots more too.  I'm not sure why the numbers are so low.  And yes, there is still room for registrations but those haven't increased in the past week so I'm not holding my breath. :-)

    Sun's idea sounds like a good deal but based on past responses, most people said they would not pay for a beta exam so we're basing our decision on that really.  it's worth another look though but I would think a price higher than $30 is still needed to deter the unqualified candidates.  Just my opinion mind you, but I truly believe it.

    best of luck on Monday, I hope you do well.

    Gerry

  • Hi Gerry;

    I hope the 200 people who said they would take the exam manage to do so. I think the reason there are not a lot of people taking the beta is because of the other offers from Microsoft. For example I am sure if you had a look at the number of people going for the exams that are going to be retired in March 2009 or the upgrade exams, I am sure the number would be fairly up. Myself for one have been concentrating on upgrading my certifications to .net 2.0 and doing some of the certifications that are due to expire in which I have always been interested in but never attempted them because of the price.

    One idea to be able to get more qualified candidates to do the exam would be to have a survey or assessment  that would allow you guys to see if the person is qualified to do the beta and also it would deter candidates that are not serious about the exams.

    Good luck for monday.

    Regards

    Shivam

  • I didn't register for 70-451, mostly because i don't know enough about the topic.

    I'm pretty new to the certification field, passed my MCSE exams in the beginning of 2007. Thanks to the more or less open nature of beta exams, i was able to get all my WS2008 certifications (649,647,646,652) without paying a dime - that was great.

    I never received a personal invitation email, except for the 652 beta - which means without public betas i wouldn't have been able to take the other exams.

    Now, i understand your point, but paying for a beta exam isn't something i would do. The current beta situation is acceptable if it is free - double the questions, waiting 4-5 months for the results. That's okay for something free. But as soon as i pay for something, i expect more.

  • Hi Gerry,

    I would be rather disappointed if the beta exams were closed down again. This year I've passed two of them (504 and 562) and I have a third one (433) planned on 10-10.

    However, I could only register for these because I found a promotional code somewhere or because the exam was public. I do not receive beta exam invitations, so taking one will become rather difficult if they're no longer public.

    Regards,

    Ronald

  • Hi Gerry,

    Yesterday, September 25th, I was one of the 200 "bad" people. Today, I'm not ... :-)

    And I think I'm also one for the 71-433. But I always go to my testing, or, if not possible I cancel them (1 time for the new Active Directory test with the new software).

    I understand that you are upset with this situation. But sometimes the time range for the exam is not compatible with holydays or daily workload. And (in France) I cannot pass the exam every day. Testing sessions are open only 3 or 4 days/week. I could be another reason to delay the exam.

    I'm certified since WinNT4.0 and SQL 7.0. Maybe you should target people directly by email regarding their transcripts to be "beta-tester" for a new exam. It will prevent people who don't care about a technology to take a seat

    It will be a good idea to make another post at the end of testing period and give us the final statistics...

    Tanks,

    Regards,

    Chris.

  • Hi Gerry,

    Here is another ideia.

    A while ago, I took 70-282 exam. I used a voucher from Microsoft. If I passed, then the exam would be free if I flunk, I had to pay for the exam. Fortunelly I got my money back :). Stiil this can be a way for Betas, not having to pay if you just show up. This way, only someone that had some good reasens would not show up.

    The ideia of one voucher for the ones o passed is music for my ears, this would be a very nice ideia ;).

    If you close those public invitatios is very bad news for me. I took 8 Beta exams already, 7 passed 1 tested, and 1 more scheduled. Never got one personal invitation, this was only checking blogs. So, I have doubts about the priority scheme.

  • Thanks everyone for your comments and suggestions.  I will take them all into consideration and discussions with the internal team.

    NOTE: We will NOT be closing the betas to the public anytime soon so you don't have to worry about that in the near future.

    Gerry

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