Recently I've passed last exam required to obtain Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer. Now I'm fully certified in web development in .NET framework. That wasn't my first meeting with exams from Microsoft and because of that I want to leave some comments about them.
First of all I must say that preparation for some of them took me more time than I thought. That's because exams are testing knowledge in a very detailed way. In my opinion sometimes in too detailed way. Of course they should be difficult enough to ensure somebody with this title is representing something but hey - in some areas we are being questioned which attributes in WCF configuration are valid(!). That's not fair in my opinion - I don't think that somebody might be editing those files without referencing MSDN documentation or some kind of editor.
Below are exams that I've passed in chronological order.
70-513 TS: Windows Communication Foundation Development with Microsoft .NET Framework 4
It was mostly about configuring WCF services. I have couple of caveats - as I've said earlier I don't think that knowing all configuration options by heart is a good thing, we need to be realistic about it.
exam was offered for free by Microsoft, so I've decided to give it a
try. Before preparing for it I thought that it might contain some
questions about Metro style specific styles and extensions, but it was
purely about HTML5 and CSS3 without mentioning anything about Metro UI.
70-516 TS: Accessing Data with Microsoft .NET Framework 4
This exam was checking our general knowledge about Entity Framework, LINQ To SQL and similar topics. I think it is a very important one, because in almost every application that is being developed we can encounter tampering with data of some kind.
70-515 TS: Web Applications Development with Microsoft .NET Framework 4
Because I've been working a lot with web technologies, mostly with ASP.NET MVC I thought it will the be easiest one to pass for me... and I was right - from this particular one I've managed to gain maximum number of 1000 points. What I didn't like about this exam? The fact that they are testing knowledge about ASP.NET MVC 2 when the current edition is MVC 4. Framework has changed a lot during that time. Hopefully there wasn't too much questions about MVC at all.
70-519 PRO: Designing and Developing Web Applications Using Microsoft .NET Framework 4
This exam was the last one and in some way it's trying to sum up knowledge tested in three earlier exams. Because of that fact it was also rather easy one. After passing that one I've obtained MCPD title.
70-486 Developing ASP.NET MVC4 Web Applications
That one was the next version of 70-515 - I was complaining that it was about MVC2 so they've prepared new version with MVC4 on board (so MVC3 is not included in any exam at all) - and there were even questions about mobile stuff. This exam is definitely the most appropriate in web developer path. It is really testing knowledge that is crucial in real life scenarios. Very important one.
70-487 Developing Windows Azure and Web Services
That one is in my opinion new version of 70-513 because it is mostly examining WCF knowledge. It's a pity that there were only couple of (maybe 3 or 4) questions about Windows Azure. It should have removed Windows Azure from title - because it was only testing general knowledge around that. Most questions were about WCF and LINQ.
To sum up exams are really different - some of them are testing really important knowledge which is good and some of them are checking if you can remember xml configuration schema properly which is bad. Good thing is that preparation to exams in standardizing knowledge and making it more confident. Even though I had had some knowledge around particular topics after preparation my self-confidence had risen.
Another interesting thing is that some kind of people (especially me) need some kind of goals to achieve. Some kind of path to follow. It is really satisfying when you finish something that you have been doing for a long time.