Exam Words to Memorize: Hot Area, Active Screen...
New exams slated for release this year to feature many new testing innovations and improved security.
Hot area. Active screen. Build list and reorder.
The terms refer
to new question types that are among several that Microsoft will be introducing
in newer exams, including the Windows Server 2003-based exams slated for
release this month. Microsoft has also updated its testlet exam format,
a scenario-based question.
According to an updated
FAQ on the Microsoft MCP Web site, "The new, innovative question
types and testlet exam format have undergone rigorous usability testing
by certification customers and usability engineers. These new question
types offer intuitive interfaces, user-friendly features, and improved
navigation. Help is available at all times to provide information about
how all question types work."
The FAQ explains how each of the new question types are being used, and
Microsoft recommends that testers download demos before attempting any
of the newer exams. Take hot area questions (see figure). The question
appears at the top of the screen and the tester is expected to perform
an operation on a screen shot with active areas that are indicated by
moving the mouse over it, simulating a task that might be performed in
a working environment.
|Hot area, one of many new innovations that Microsoft
will introduce in upcoming exams, provides tester with an example
screen containing areas that are activated as the mouse is moved over
them. (Click image to view larger version.)
Andy Barkl, MCT and owner of WeTrainIT.com in Phoenix, Arizona, observes
that "The hot area is not exactly like the real-world screens but
at least it requires a candidate to be familiar with the screens and options.
The frustrating aspect of these new question types is that you are required
to scroll each and every frame or you can't move to the next question,
and there's a lot of white space beyond the text and screen shots."
While questions such as hot area might need navigation refinements, Barkl
believes the new question types do a much better job of thwarting cheaters
than multiple choice and thus, exam integrity. "This new question
type, although similar to [questions in] the IIS 4 exam and its simulators,
offers a richer exam experience and maybe, just maybe, will cut down on
those who use alternate methods to pass rather than the traditional study
methods and hands-on experience required...."
Microsoft also says that it has updated the testlet format, similar to
scenario-based or case study questions. Testlets might be deployed at
any point in an exam and are typically packaged as a set of questions
that relate to a specific scenario. According to the FAQ, once a testlet
is completed, it can't be reviewed during an exam. Also, testlets were
in limited use in existing exams, but they've gone through further refinement
and will only be deployed in newer exams.
For information on all the question types that Microsoft uses in its
exams, go to http://www.microsoft.com/traincert/mcpexams/faq/innovations.asp.
Michael Domingo has held several positions at 1105 Media, and is currently the editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine.