Microsoft certification exam layout and design

Check out this excerpt from MCSA/MCSE 70-290 Exam Cram: Managing and Maintaining a Windows Server 2003 Environment by Dan Balter and Patrick Regan, to find info on the types of question formats you'll come across when taking a Microsoft certification exam.

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SP1 and R2 MCSA/MCSE 70-290 Exam Cram: Managing and Maintaining a Windows Server 2003 Environment
By Dan Balter and Patrick Regan

MCSA/MCSE 70-290 Exam Cram offers IT professionals critical information for scoring higher on their 70-290 exams.

Purchase the full book, MCSA/MCSE 70-290 Exam Cram: Managing and Maintaining a Windows Server 2003 Environment.

The following excerpt is from chapter one entitled "Microsoft Certification Exams."


Exam layout and design

Historically, there have been six types of question formats on Microsoft certification exams. These types of questions continue to appear on current Microsoft tests, and they are discussed in the following sections:

  • Multiple-choice, single answer

  • Multiple-choice, multiple answers

  • Build-list-and-reorder (list prioritization)

  • Create-a-tree

  • Drag-and-connect

  • Select-and-place (drag-and-drop)
  • The Single-Answer and Multiple-Answer Multiple-Choice Question Formats

    Some exam questions require you to select a single answer, whereas others ask you to select multiple correct answers. The following multiple-choice question requires you to select a single correct answer. Following the question is a brief summary of each potential answer and why it is either right or wrong.

    The correct answer is A because only one schema master is necessary for a forest arrangement. The other answers (B, C, and D) are misleading because they try to make you believe that schema masters might be in each domain or perhaps that you should have one for each contiguous namespace domain.

    This sample question format corresponds closely to the Microsoft certification exam format. The only difference is that on the exam, the questions are not followed by answers and their explanations. To select an answer, you position the cursor over the option button next to the answer you want to select. Then, you click the mouse button to select the answer.

    Let's examine a question for which one or more answers are possible. This type of question provides check boxes rather than option buttons for marking all appropriate selections.

    Answers A and B are correct. You can seize roles from a server that is still running through the Active Directory Users and Computers console, or in the case of a server failure, you can seize roles with the ntdsutil.exe utility. You use the secedit.exe utility to force group policies into play; therefore, Answer C is incorrect. The utilman.exe tool manages accessibility settings in Windows Server 2003; therefore, Answer D is incorrect.

    This particular question requires two answers. Microsoft sometimes gives partial credit for partially correct answers. For Question 2, you have to mark the check boxes next to Answers A and B to obtain credit for a correct answer. Notice that choosing the right answers also means knowing why the other answers are wrong.

    The Build-List-and-Reorder Question Format

    Questions in the build-list-and-reorder format present two lists of items—one on the left and one on the right. To answer the question, you must move items from the list on the right to the list on the left. The final list must then be reordered into a specific sequence.

    These questions generally sound like this: "From the following list of choices, pick the choices that answer the question. Arrange the list in a certain order." Question 3 shows an example of how they appear in this book; for an example of how they appear on the test, see Figure 1.1.

    FIGURE 1.1 The format for buildlist- and-reorder questions.

    The correct answer is

    1. George Washington
    2. Thomas Jefferson
    3. Andrew Jackson
    4. Abe Lincoln
    On an actual exam, the entire list of famous people would initially appear in the list on the right. You would move the four correct answers to the list on the left and then reorder the list on the left. Notice that the answer to Question 3 does not include all the items from the initial list. However, that might not always be the case.

    To move an item from the right list to the left list on the exam, you first select the item by clicking it, and then you click the Add button (left arrow). After you move an item from one list to the other, you can move the item back by first selecting the item and then clicking the appropriate button (either the Add button or the Remove button). After you move items to the left list, you can reorder an item by selecting the item and clicking the up or down arrow buttons.

    The Create-a-Tree Question Format

    Questions in the create-a-tree format also present two lists—one on the left side of the screen and one on the right side of the screen. The list on the right consists of individual items, and the list on the left consists of nodes in a tree. To answer the question, you must move items from the list on the right to the appropriate node in the tree.

    These questions can best be characterized as simply a matching exercise. Items from the list on the right are placed under the appropriate category in the list on the left. Question 4 shows an example of how they appear in this book; for an example of how they appear on the test, see Figure 1.2.

    FIGURE 1.2 The create-a-tree question format.

    The correct answers are

    1. Winter
      -- Christmas
      -- Washington's Birthday
    2. Spring
      -- Flag Day
      -- Memorial Day
      -- Easter
    3. Summer
      -- Fourth of July
      -- Labor Day
    4. Fall
      -- Thanksgiving
    In this case, you use all the items in the list. However, that might not always be the case.

    To move an item from the right list to its appropriate location in the tree, you must first select the appropriate tree node by clicking it. Then, you select the item to be moved and click the Add button. Once you add one or more items to a tree node, the node appears with a + icon to the left of the node name. You can click this icon to expand the node and view the items you have added. If you have added any item to the wrong tree node, you can remove it by selecting it and clicking the Remove button.

    The Drag-and-Connect Question Format

    Questions in the drag-and-connect format present a group of objects and a list of "connections." To answer the question, you must move the appropriate connections between the objects.

    This type of question is best described using graphics. Question 5 shows an example.

    The correct answer is

    For this type of question, it isn't necessary to use every object, and you can use each connection multiple times.

    The Select-and-Place Question Format

    Questions in the select-and-place (drag-and-drop) format display a diagram with blank boxes and a list of labels that you need to drag to correctly fill in the blank boxes. To answer such a question, you must move the labels to their appropriate positions on the diagram.

    This type of question is best described using graphics. Question 6 shows an example.

    The correct answer is

    Continue to Part Three: Design and special exam question formats.

    Table of contents:


    What to expect at the testing center
    Exam layout and design
    Design and special exam question formats
    Microsoft testing formats
    Strategies for different testing formats

    Dan Balter is the chief technology officer for InfoTechnology Partners, Inc., a Microsoft Certified Partner company. He works as an IT consultant and trainer for both corporate and government clients and has worked with several network operating systems throughout his 24-year career. Dan holds the following Microsoft certifications: MCDST, MCSA, and MCSE.

    Patrick Regan is a senior design architect/engineer and training coordinator for Miles Consulting Corp (MCC). He holds many certifications, including the Microsoft MCSE, MCSA, and MCT; CompTIA's A+, Network+, Server+, Linux+, Security+, and CTT+; Cisco CCNA; and Novell's CNE and CWNP

    This was first published in July 2007

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