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Accelerated Exam Was "Learning Experience" for Microsoft

Redmond may introduce more "composite" tests in future, says Microsoft's certification group.

The Windows 2000 Accelerated Exam was Microsoft's first try at a composite test, and although it isn't saying whether it considers the exam a success or not, Redmond hasn't ruled them out in the future.

In an interview with Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine, Anne Marie McSweeney, Microsoft's director of certification skills and assessment, declined to give the pass/fail rates for the Accelerated Exam, saying that "disclosing information like this can be really, really misleading."

The Windows 2000 Accelerated Exam, which expired at the end of 2001, was available to anyone who had finished the Windows NT 4.0 core exams. An alternative to taking the core four Win2K tests, it was free to test-takers, but was also a one-shot deal: If you failed it, you couldn't retake it, and failing any one out of the four sections also resulted in a failing grade for the entire exam.

"This was a 1.0 [version of the test]: Keep that in mind," McSweeney said. "I would say we learned a lot from it. It provided an option for customers, and given that the technology's advanced, it's given us the ability to create a better solution next time." In the future, she suggested, a composite test might be structured such that candidates could take make-up exams for those modules failed.

Microsoft emphasized in the interview that 70-240 was "psychometrically sound."

McSweeney did admit to some frustration among those who attempted the test. "70-240 was not as customer-friendly as we'd like." But overall, she added, "I'm satisfied. I look at the learning we got from it that we can apply to future exams."

Although the evidence is entirely anecdotal at this point, it's apparent that a large number of test-takers, even perhaps a majority, failed the exam. Those who failed have to take each exam individually on their way to their Windows 2000 MCSE. Those who passed still have to take one design elective and two other electives to receive their credential.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization Review.

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