My route to certification
So I have worked in C# quite a bit over the years, but have been wary of the certification exams and the specificity of their questioning. This was due to my belief that modern resources like IntelliSense and MSDN have meant that we don’t tend to memorise the specifics of the languages and frameworks with which we work anymore. There was a time when one always required books on the desk and it was natural to save that kind of slow research time by remembering API method signatures etc... whereas now I think I tend to more naturally remember concepts and then quickly look up implementation specifics when required. But earlier this year I finally got my first certification and so my fear of specific questioning was reduced and ultimately the experience made me want to get more certs. I purchased “Pro C# and the .Net 4.5 Framework” a couple of months ago and as I worked my way through it I thought now might be a good time to think about some of the programming certifications.
So although I was at that stage only half way through the big book (it’s 1400 pages) I checked out the certification paths and discovered that as an employee I could get the recommended training course (Course 20483B) documentation soft copy for free. Over the last few weeks in the evenings I worked through the modules and was pleasantly suprised to find no surprises; what I mean by this is that is I had pretty much covered everything in the course before (the fact that I’ve written a few Windows Phone and Windows 8 apps over the last year certainly helped with the newer stuff).
After I finished the course I went ahead and booked the exam, and then revised by following the links from the blog pages of a couple of folk who had already passed it (Thank you Andreas Hammar, Claudio Bernasconi and of course MSDN and Technet). I also speed read the course modules again, but paid extra attention to the areas to areas to which I have had less exposure (Performance counters, Reflection, using unmanaged code and encryption/decryption).
On the day I actually found this exam a little easier than the previous CRM one - I think in programming subjects it might be easier to spot definitively correct answers. It was also shorter (at only 40 questions) and I found that sometimes when I'd marked a question for review a later question which included a code sample might help clear up the ambiguity (in my mind) and let me go back an finish the "marked for review" question (only happened for a couple of questions). Anyway, I am now a certified Microsoft Specialist in C# 5.0 programming and have already acquired the course materials for the the next one (Essentials of Developing Windows Store Apps using C#). I’m on vacation next week, so I may get to make a start on it...