Recently, I took and passed the Microsoft Exam 70-523: Upgrade: Transition your MCPD .NET Framework 3.5 Web Developer Skills to MCPD .NET Framework 4 Web Developer in order to get my MCPD certification current. The MCPD series of certifications focus on Visual Studio and .NET, specifically in this case Visual Studio 2010 and ASP.NET 4. An upgrade exam is typically available if your current certification is one version behind. If you are more than one version behind, there could be multiple upgrade exams available to get current faster.

This particular upgrade exam combines four individual exams. Much to my surprise, your transcript officially gives you credit as if you actually took the exams independently.

In my experience, the lengthy upgrade exam was well worth it. I was worried about taking what seemed to be four independent exams chained together, since the standard exams are long enough! It was a little lengthy, but taking it was not bad at all. I found that it really boiled down the content to cover just the new features in .NET 4 without testing vast .NET 2.0+ general knowledge. Having developed a few applications with Visual Studio 2010 and the new MVC framework, I was pretty familiar with most of new features. That, combined with a lot of reading Scott Guthrie’s blog and MSDN I was definitely up to speed and ready to test my knowledge.

So what was in the exam exactly? As I mentioned, it consists of four sections based on the standard exam areas, each with 15-20 questions. At the end of the exam there is a short “testlet” which is a case study you read and then answer a few more real-world questions about how you would design and develop the solution. I loved the testlet–I wish more MS exams used them as a testing tool. Sometimes the normal test questions are just vague enough to make some answers seemingly ambiguous, and it is great to have a requirements document to reference for clarification. If you haven’t taken an upgrade exam before, you should know that after you complete one section you cannot go back later and review it. Wally warned me about this ahead of time (Thanks Wally!) and I am really glad he told me about it.

Under the new Microsoft Partnership Network, eimagine has to have four current MCPDs to achieve the Web Development Gold Competency. Everyone knows I want the gold medal in the eimagine Olympics, and that’s not going so well for me this year (sorry Joel), so it should not be a surprise that I want this gold too! Who else wants to join me?

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