The Same Pants

I'm wearing the same pants, for the third day in a row. I hope no one notices. In other news, I have two things to say about beta exams. 

Gerry O'Brien posted an explanation of what happens to your comments and feedback on the betas. You can read that here. Thank you, Gerry.

When taking a beta exam at Prometric, you add comments by marking a question for reviewThe "mark for review" option covers both true reviews (i.e., I want to return to check my answer) and marking beta items for comment during the comment period.

I'm pointing this out because this was, I'm told, handled differently by VUE (there was a separate "select comment for review" option, I guess) and we've had questions from some of you after taking a first beta at Prometric. More info from our team:

Hereโ€™s how it works at Prometric: All MS exams have a checkbox in the upper left hand corner of each item that allow the candidate to mark an item for review. After a candidate has gotten through all the items in the exam, the candidate then sees a final screen with the item numbers listed and the ones that are marked will be highlighted.

In the comment period at the end of the exam, these items remain highlighted. When the candidate clicks on any item, highlighted or not, they are taken to that item where there is a comment button that allows them to type their comments in a pop up box while viewing that item. (They cannot change answers while viewing that item.) This comment period is typically 30 minutes for a beta, 15 min for a live exam.

Comments (17)

  1. Yes and the Prometric way sucks. I like a mark for review and a mark for comment option. I know Prometric has a hard time keeping up with technology and all (they finally support Server 2003 as a backend) but I would think this isn’t totally impossible to implement, even for them. Plus you don’t get enough time for true comments. This time limit should be expanded for beta exams as 30 minutes is often not enough to comment on beta’s. Then again 15 minutes isn’t really long enough on a live exam at times either.

  2. Gregory W. Smith says:

    True – but if you run out of time, you can just jam all of the remaining comments into the last question you have open.

    I’m sure *that* makes it easy for the people reviewing comments…

  3. Andy says:

    People will notice the pants if they are red corduroys and you wear them for a week straight. This happened at my last job and the guy who did this was forever known as Charlie Red Pants.

    No comments about the comments.

  4. Andy says:

    If there’s a "maximum seat time" per exam, then why doesn’t their system allow you that "total time" to finish the exam along with comments splitting the time between each as you choose? I’ve participated in over 95 Microsoft exams and have never "run short on time".

  5. bigstyle says:


    I recently passed several beta and for 71-646 and 71-647 for example I can tell you that it wasn’t like you said in this post (if I have well understood it).

    You are saying that we need to "Mark for review" a question if we want to be able to let a "Comment" during the beta certification.

    During those certs, before the End of the exam, I was able to view every questions and mark or unmark them for review.

    Then, I had to click "End Exam" and right after, the system asked me if I want to let some comments. I was so able to list every questions I wanted (marked or not for review) and I could see my answer but without the right to modify them.

    The time for the Comments was only to 15 minutes. Quite short for 70 questions ! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Peter Read says:

    Yeah but the VUE method was to have two states, marked for comment or marked for review.  

    This made sense, as I tend to do exams over 3 passes (blitz the ‘obvious’ questions, mark others for review.  Then do the rest, skipping any that don’t seem reasonably obvious after a few mins thinking.  Then those last few)

    This is fine with VUE’s method as I can still mark the dozen Q’s I want to comment on.  Not so with Prometric, as I’ve just got the last couple I needed to answer marked rather than the questions I want to comment on.

  7. Pete Calvert says:

    but why? when you have such great skirts! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. Adrian says:

    Pete 1 Everyone else 0

    I’m just bitter because I missed two beta exams due to people not turning up for work and moi having to cover their shift.

    Roll on New Job ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Why not allow unlimited time to make comments for Beta Exams? (or at least 60-120 Minutes)

    Surely the more information you get back the better.

  9. tlamothe says:

    Adrian, if you give unlimted time to mark comments then the testing centers can’t properly schedule their computers. You allocate say two hours but budy spends 1.5 hours examing and 1 hour commentiing.

    I was told getting a spot at a testing center in Ottawa before Christmas was next near to impossible. If you had let people sit forever commenting, it could have cause real hold ups. People might be a little upset (or pissed off)if they have to wait for the guy writing before them. Then they would start blaming prometric for not being able top properly schedule exams.

  10. JohnCKirk says:

    One nice option would be to have general feedback on the exam as a whole, not tied to any particular question. For instance, I recently took the Vista upgrade exam, as described here:

    The practice test hasn’t been changed since 1999, so the example of a question where you have to scroll down to see all the answers doesn’t really work anymore; modern screens are big enough to show them all at once! Also, the timings were a bit confusing; I thought that I’d finished the exam (based on the countdown timer), but it turned out that I’d only finished the first section.

  11. Jose Firebird says:

    I will wear the same pants too for three days in tribute to your great postings.  

  12. TerryCheng says:

    Add to Jose’s – I will wear the same pants too for three days in tribute to your great postings. I have 6 more hours to go.  This posting serves the same purpose,  Why stayed there to comment?

  13. Adrian says:

    @ tlamothe

    I know what you mean but beta exams don’t happen that often really, also the amount of people taking them is spread all over the world.

    Perhaps your right though, even one hour would still be plenty enough time.

    My own test centre never seems to be full, usually its just me + a random

  14. Peter Read says:

    Alternatively, I’m sure it’s been said before, but if an exam has say 4 hours plus 15 mins for comments, and is finished in 3, surely that leaves 1h15m where the testing center can’t schedule use of the machine(s) anyway so might as well make the time available for comments.

  15. Heiko Hatzfeld says:


    I have the same gripe about the limited time for commenting.

    It just does not work out correctly. You want us to take those exams, so we can provide feedback, and yet, we are only allowed to comment on a few questions. My last Beta was the SQL Server 2005 exams, and I ran out of time for comments quite early. I had like 5-6 more questions marked, but I only got to comment on 3 of them, and the other questions also badly needed a comment on them.

    I am also not native english, and so it takes another moment for me to get the things right.

    So far I have only taken my exams with vue, so I appriciate the warning about the different handling of the review options in advance

  16. says:

    Jose and TerryCheng, I really loved your comments, they made me laugh out loud.

    I believe the target is 30 minutes for comment, so if you’ve gotten short-changed I’m very sorry. If you have more to say and no time to say it, you can send it to us (I know that is not ideal but the exam teams really do read every comment (I’ve seen it…) and value all you have to say.

    You guys didn’t mention this, but consider another, um, conisderation in limiting seat times on betas: piracy.

  17. Martin says:

    My native language is not English.

    What exactly do you mean with "pants"? Is it some kind of underwear (e.g. slip)? Or more sth. like trousers (e.g. jeans or khaki)?

    Thx in advance for any clarifying!

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