How do I Prepare for the Visual Studio 2008 Exams?

I am being asked this question quite often lately, and of course it is a perfectly valid question.  Where are all the MS Press Training Kits?  What can you use to prepare for the exams if you want to take them now?

If you visit my post back in August around the release dates for the training kits, you will see that some are released already, while others won't be available until early 2009.  You will also notice that not all of the MCPD exams will have training kits.  Sorry, but this is a business decision we have had to make.

So, let's get back to the real question.  How do you prepare for these exams?

Here is my recommendation that I give to people who ask.  It has served me well on the exams I have taken and I think it will serve you well also.

1) Visit the web site for the prep guide.  These can be located on the Visual Studio certification page at Microsoft's Web site.  These prep guides will tell you what areas of the product will be covered by each exam.  Use this to determine what you need to study.

2) If possible, take a practice test from MeasureUp or Self Test Software. My strategy for these practice tests is to use them to determine where you need to study more.  They can clearly show you what areas you are weak in before you take the actual exam.

3) Locate and use existing training kits for Visual Studio 2005.  Often, these training kits will still prepare you for a good portion of the 2008 exams.  However, use point 4 below to complete your preparation.

4) Use existing resources such as MSDN online and the many links available there, or the MSDN documentation that comes with Visual Studio to help you fill in the missing gaps in your knowledge.

I wish you all the best of luck in your exams and hope this helps a little bit with your preparation for the new exams.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, they are welcome.



Comments (13)

  1. Geoff says:

    I have found the links to the MSDN from the test questions in the MS Training Books very useful.  It would be great if there was a site (maybe community site) that linked MSDN material to exam requirements.  I have had to do this for exams without training guides and it is a painful process.

    Would it be possible for the actual learning guide to do this?

  2. HI Geoff,

    We do provide some links, as you mention, but also keep in mind your other comment, "I have had to do this for exams without training guides and it is a painful process."

    That statement gives you an idea as to why it isn’t being done now.  To mine the MSDN site for content that maps to exam objectives sounds like a great idea for a software program.

    It’s a challenge I may take up as time permits.



  3. Geoff says:

    Hi Gerry,

    Thanks for your comments, I appreciate it would be too much of a committment for you, but a community site that helped link the material would be feasable.  I think the automatic linking sounds pretty hard!  Judging by how hard I find it to do by hand.

    Any searching I do on this area either goes straight to braindump sites or people who point to the learning guide.  I do not need/want either of these!

    Is it possible to do this with the new MSDN community software?

    Another suggestion is would it possible for Beta Exam takers to get some preview training material (maybe a finished chapter or two from training guides on new material), the feedback would help in improving the quality of the material and improve the preparation of candidates.

  4. Niall says:

    Just beat me to the punch there Gerry. Similar post blogged this morning.

    I like Geoffs idea, it would be a great idea if it could be bumped through

  5. Hi Geoff,

    I’ll have to shamefully admit that I haven’t looked at the MSDN community software to know whether it is possible or not.  I like the idea though.

    Preview training material, especially from books, would not be possible due to the contracts we have in place with authors.  We typically don’t always own the IP that is a part of this material and that drives the issues around when the content is available.

    There are also issues around the content’s state.  In other words, it hasn’t gone through tech review or edits etc.   It’s a slightly complex process.


  6. Hey Niall,

    I have to stay one step ahead of you right?  🙂

    I do like Geoff’s idea and I will take a look at the MSDN community software to see if there is a potential for using it.

    Of course, it will have to be community driven and I would look to you guys to contribute.  You guys meaning the certified community.


  7. Niall says:

    Didnt think of the IP issues which definately complicates thing. Possibly a community moderation either from MSFT or competent individuals from the community.

    Maybe a case study with reference to the 70-536 exam. Its well established and there are enough people who have passed it to know what should and shoudlnt go into it…

    Again there are issues around "too" detailed information being on these sites and they being tailored to just passing the exam.

  8. Yes, caution would be the best thing in this endeavor Niall.  We wouldn’t want to create yet another "brain dump" site.

    I think it can be done for sure.  It’s a matter of figuring the best way to do it.

    I’m open to your ideas.


  9. Niall says:

    I think a moderated approach by individuals certified in the particular area where possible. Meaning that people who have passed the exam could moderate it. Similar style nda as per exams. Current folks on the msl community forums would be a good start i think. Again you need a test case with stricter rules at the start to see what you can relax later. Just bouncing ideas to see it stirs up elsewhere.

  10. Geoff says:

    Thanks for your responses.  Great to see your interest.  I agree with Niall.

    My initial idea was just links from the exam guide to relevant articles, this is doing the leg work for a certificate taker but not the learning.

    I would guess that you can split certificate takers into a few groups

    a) Straight out of college trying to get their first job

    b) Experienced developers who want to confirm their knowledge, either for resume or company parnership status

    c) experienced developers who wish to cover all areas of a product so that you are aware of new features or unfamiliar features and how (including best practise and purpose) and when to use them.

    I am most concerned and am myself in both b and c category, it would not achieve my purpose to cheat.  I think there are enough people (Niall included) who would could moderate the site to prevent it becoming a braindump site.  If it was used by professionals it could be self moderated.  As this would be a ‘body of knowledge’ I think there would be an incentive to moderate it, unlike forums when it feels that comments in effect expire with time.  I think that well structured information may persuade people to study rather than cheat, but I am an optimist.


    In Oz in case you think I do not sleep

  11. Geoff says:

    Found this site which is trying to do what we talked about.

    In particular

    Do not know anthing about the authors, but looks like it has the right goals.

  12. pickedaname says:

    Hi Gerry,

    Forgive the placement of this question.

    The last time I took any exam was win2000 MCP back in 2001-2002.

    I am going for MCPD Enterprise App dev certs and fall into both B and C in Geoffs list above (although I admit that I am finding worthy nuggets from the MS Press MCTS exam 70-536 2nd ed. training kit). On for the MCPD: Enterprise Application Developer 3.5, The prereqs state (in the same cell)

    (Exam 70-536 and Exam 70-505)

    (Exam 70-536 and Exam 70-562)

    (Exam 70-536 and Exam 70-561)

    (Exam 70-536 and Exam 70-503)

    My first thought, when seeing the above list (as is) as the pre reqs, is that 70-536 must be taken only once. Or I can assume that 70-536 is fused into these other exams and I will see it 4 times, along with the other exam. Would I be understanding this list correctly if I were to say that it means that each of the following must be taken and passed only once as a prereq to 70-565:

    Exam 70-536

    Exam 70-505

    Exam 70-562

    Exam 70-561

    Exam 70-503


    Call me literal but I have seen stranger things and must verify.


  13. Well, I’m glad you picked a name, pickedaname.  🙂

    As for your question, you are correct in your last portion for clarification.

    You only need to take 70-536 once.  However, you will not see any of the questions from 536 on any of the other exams listed.  Each exam is its own exam.

    So, the exams you listed, are the MCTS certifications that you must hold, in concert with the MCPD Enterprise exam, in order to achieve the MCPD Enterprise certification for .NET 3.5.


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