Exam simulations: nectar of the gods


Getting more questions on simulations as more of you are running in to them. We call simulations performance-based testing (PBT). The reason for this is that the acronym for simulations would just be S, and that is not in keeping with Microsoft's policies of over acronizing as much as possible. PBT, though still fairly short, is less disappointingly succinct and has a nice rhyme-y feel to it*.

Performance-based testing (PBT) in Microsoft Certification exams

Performance-based items are exam questions in which the tester must perform a task in a simulated version of the technology, rather than answering a finite-result style question (like multiple choice or drag and drop). As you all know, PB means a brain-dump user with no experience on the technology can't waltz in and cheat their way to a "pass," you have to be able to get around the software hands-on to get something done.

PB is only in some exams at the moment (a few 'new gen' exams and a handful of Windows Server 2003 exams); there are more coming. I know the strategy team has an eye to getting PB items in to many (all?!?) key MCTS exams, that would be amazing. No exams are all PB, there will be other more traditional item types, too.

In case you have run into PB in the past, you should know that scoring for PB items in new generation exams (e.g. for MCTS exams rather than MCP exams) is different than how it has worked before. Here is a little info on what to expect. 

Scoring new generation exams with a PB component

  • Your score report will include two different sections: one for your performance-based (PB) items and one for your non-performance based (i.e. multiple choice) items
  • The PB section will likely have fewer questions than the non-PB section, though all questions (PB and non-PB) have the same value per question. In other words, a multiple choice question is worth one “point”; a PB task is also worth one point.
  • You must pass both sections to receive a pass on these exams.
  • Scoring of PB items is based on the end state, rather than how you got there. In other words, we do not look at your path or number of clicks; if your end result is as intended, you have passed the question.
  • EDITED OCTOBER 30, 2007: I want to clarify that, per the first bullet, your score report *will* include two different sections--at the moment it does not. The new reporting format will roll-out with Prometric (not VUE) in coming months. In the meantime, your score report will only include ONE score, and it is the LOWER of your scores on the two sections. I have heard customers concerned by a really low score on 431 when they felt they performed well. In this case, it is likely that the low score was the simulations-only score; the multiple choice section would not be reported even if it were 100%, because only the LOWER of the two scores will be reported, and BOTH SECTIONS must have a passing score to pass the exam. We know this is confusing, and that is why the team is working to provide clear score reporting for this new format as soon as possible!

*It makes me think of Bel Biv Devoe (BBD). Never trust a big butt and a smile.