January 27, 2009

Exam Strategy: Beware of the Three Musketeers

Certification exams are tests of skills and expertise. One may be as nervous as the young driver behind the wheels at the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles), but the similarity ends there. Unlike the driving test where basic road signs and driving etiquette needs to be followed, certification exams are like driving tests on a expressway. Of course, beta exams are the Formula One grand prix races with the thrill of a race against time.



As you prepare to go out to 'battle' at your nearest Prometric test center, it is time to forewarn you about the 'Three Musketeers' whom you shall encounter. The 'Three Musketeers' are three types of questions which stump most candidates. Allow me to illustrate the three little men (not so cherubic like the picture alongside) that would cause you a little heartburn during your testing window.

C2s - Consulting Conundrum or Complex Consulting: These are questions that ask you "How to make it work?" The question may relate to configuration and setup as well as steps for transaction processing. For technical exams, this may involve writing or arranging the code in the correct order. Questions have multiple choices (sometimes up to seven choices!) and one has to select the correct answer set - usually two or more options need to be chosen to get full credit.

B2s - Brilliant Brainstorming or Business Breakthrough: These are questions that ask you "How to provide a solution?" Usually a mini case study is presented with relevant and not so relevant facts and figures. One has to architect and/or configure a solution and use the several alternatives among the multiple choices to arrive at the correct answer. Similar to the C2s, usually two or more options need to be chosen to get full credit. These questions consume a lot of minutes so proper time management is required to have adequate window to answer these questions.

S2s - Support Situation or Service Successfully: These are questions that ask you "Why is it not working?" Based on a problem statement one has to study the alternatives and eliminate the correct setups, configuration or codes and identify the incorrect ones. For once, 'wrong is right' here. Similar to C2s and B2s, usually two or more options need to be chosen to get full credit.

The C-B-S network would indeed test your skills and expertise to its limits. It all depends on your performance when it matters whether you will be a hit, a rock star or be just hit or get rocked. Oracle certification exams are increasingly moving away from Rs - Recall and Record or M2s - Memorize and Mark type of questions. Even if one has the urge to consult the illegal pass-guaranteed question banks, the M-R-I (M2s-R2s-Initiative) would only give you a headache (in more ways than one!). This MRI is not worth the scan!

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