Hewlett Packard


MCSE Help : New Examination Format

As you may have read elsewhere, Microsoft has recently released a new format for their examinations. The old exams are rapidly being phased out in favour of the new; the NT Workstation and Server examinations are already being given in the new format, and others are sure to follow. The good news is that you’ll face far fewer questions than before: expect a total of fifteen rather than 60-70. The bad news is that the questions have changed.

To be more precise, the way the questions are selected has changed. The examinations are now adaptive - they change as you answer them. What this means is that, although you will be asked fewer questions, with each question you answer the next question is made harder or easier, depending upon whether you answered right or wrong. The exam starts off with a question of moderate difficulty; in effect you find your level from that point on. One of the side-effects of this system is that, because your answer to each question determines the difficulty level of the next question, you cannot go back to questions that you have answered earlier.

As you might expect, marking the exam is rather more complex than adding up the correct answers out of fifteen! Marks are assigned on the basis of a complex, statistical analysis of your answers, with correctly answered harder questions being weighted differently to easier questions.

From the perspective of revision, the new exam format does not change everything: the subject areas you will be tested on are the same as before, so courses or books that you have used for your revision (and the valuable advice to be found in the pages of NTexplorer!) will be just as relevant now as they were with the old exams. What you do need to consider is which prep-test software to buy; almost all testing software available at the moment emulates the old exams, not the new ones.

For more detailed information and to download a sample adaptive test, point your Web browser to


Richard Adams is a freelance MCSE and MCT, specialising in the design and project management of TCP/IP internetwork and Microsoft Exchange messaging system implementations. His company, Computer Training and Consultancy Ltd, specialises in one-day NT and BackOffice seminars. Email: richard@ctc-seminars.co.uk.