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Number of Questions on a Microsoft Exam RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • Hi Folks,

    Ever so often, a newbie lamb-to-the-slaughter wanders into this forum and innocently asks about the number of questions on a given Microsoft exam. Immediately the NDA (non-disclosure agreement) sledgehammers come out, bludgeoning the poor newbie from all angles until he flees for safety, bruised and battered, probably to a friendly brain dump site.

    Of course I'm exaggerating a little, but not by much. I can understand protecting the integrity of Microsoft exams by not disclosing their content, but what unfair advantage does it give a candidate to have an idea of the number of questions to expect.

    When we chase him away, all he has to do is Google the exam number, e.g, 70-680, and more than half of the top search results will be brain dump sites. There he will discover not only the number of questions, but the questions and answers as well. Can you want it any easier than that?

    And here's the kicker. I recently downloaded some TechEd 2012 Exam Cram sessions where the trainer clearly stated the number of questions to expect. And this was from Microsoft's own website!

    My simple question is this. When someone comes to our forum asking for assistance, instead of going to a brain dump site, shouldn't we try to encourage him however we can, or should we make his reception so inhospitable that he'll take flight to the nearest provider of easy answers with no questions asked?

    I'm off my soap box now, so feel free to reply if you want. Thanks.


    • Edited by James JT Taylor Thursday, November 1, 2012 1:56 PM Corrected a punctuation error.
    Thursday, November 1, 2012 1:54 PM

All replies

  • It's not about "unfair advantage", it's about NDA.  If the information has not be released by Microsoft, releasing it is in breach of exam NDA.

    Microsoft does not release the number of questions in an exam for a reason; there's NO guarantee that just because I had 48 questions, the very next person will have 48 questions (This is especially true for adaptive exams where the number of questions changes depending on the circumstance of the exam).  Until Microsoft change their position on releasing the number of questions in an exam, doing so will remain a breach of exam NDA

    With regards to the Exam Cram TechEd 2012 session, I will be looking into that further as that information is clearly in breach of exam NDA therefore should not be available for download.  Also, although this content came from the TechEd 2012 website, it doesn't mean that it is endorsed by Microsoft as the TechEd owners may not know about exam NDA.


    When you see answers and helpful posts, please click Vote As Helpful, Propose As Answer, and/or Mark As Answer

    Jeff Wharton
    MSysDev (C.Sturt), MDbDsgnMgt (C.Sturt), MCT, MCPD, MCSD, MCITP, MCDBA
    Blog: Mr. Wharty's Ramblings
    Twitter: @Mr_Wharty
    MC ID: Microsoft Transcript

    Thursday, November 1, 2012 10:10 PM
    Moderator
  • Hi Mr. Wharty,

    It's always a pleasure to hear from you. As usual, I defer to your wisdom and experience, and therefore have only the following two comments to make.

    1) Microsoft's NDA notwithstanding, I don't think anyone is asking for the exact number of test questions. They simply want an idea of how many questions to expect, simply a ball-park figure. As you said, there are no guarantees as to exact number, but people would still want some idea of the number so they can prepare mentally.

    2) I believe that going after a TechEd Exam Cram session because the presenter stated how many questions to expect would be unnecessarily petty. It's like trying to stop a crime wave by arresting litterers and jay walkers while murderers and rapists are on the rampage. That's why the brain dump sites are so popular. People come here to ask a question and get browbeaten, so they go the brain dumpers and get the whole exam for free. It doesn't make sense. We need to encourage people, not discourage them. That's my 2 cents worth.

    Anyhow, I truly appreciate your excellent work in this forum. Keep up the good work.

    James

    Friday, November 2, 2012 7:26 AM
  • I agree with what you're saying and don't necessarily agree with all of the NDA however we have to live with it and work within the rules.

    In reply to 1), I've been accused of being "unhelpful" and "unprofessional" in the past for advising forum members of a ball park figure (and for not divulging question types).  People want the exact number and don't appreciate being told it's between xxx and yyy as they believe not knowing the exact number of questions is going to cause them to fail an exam.  Citing NDA makes the situation very easy to deal with.

    In reply to 2), The people who present Exam Cram sessions at TechEd are MCT's who know better than to divulge NDA restricted content.

    You may classify the action of looking into a NDA breach as "petty" however Microsoft takes NDA breaches very seriously and if the particular MCT continues to breach exam NDA, there's a real risk they will have all their certifications revoked (thus losing their MCT status) and be forbidden from sitting future exams.  Having the content removed and reminding the MCT of exam NDA will ensure that their career isn't ruined by a (potential)mistake.

    With regards to dump sites etc, Microsoft uses forensic science to identify users of dump files and they have been very successful in catching and suspending many cheats. They have also been successful in prosecuting dump distributors.  What people don't understand is that just visiting a website known to distribute dumps is sufficient grounds for Microsoft to take action.  Browsing the web isn't as anonymous as people believe :-)

    BTW, and I'm not confirming that this does/doesn't occur, but who's to say that a dump file hasn't been released by an entity with the sole intention of catching out cheats?  Something to ponder :-)


    When you see answers and helpful posts, please click Vote As Helpful, Propose As Answer, and/or Mark As Answer

    Jeff Wharton
    MSysDev (C.Sturt), MDbDsgnMgt (C.Sturt), MCT, MCPD, MCSD, MCITP, MCDBA
    Blog: Mr. Wharty's Ramblings
    Twitter: @Mr_Wharty
    MC ID: Microsoft Transcript

    Friday, November 2, 2012 7:57 AM
    Moderator
  • Hi Mr. Wharty,

    Thanks for your reply. You've given me much food for thought.

    After your disclosure about the possibility of MCTs losing their credentials, I have decided not to publish the links to the TechEd 2012 content. I don't think I should risk the career of an MCT over something like this.

    Regarding the quantum of questions, I still think you can give newbies a ballpark on the number of exam questions, but on this we can agree to disagree.

    Finally, regarding the info on Microsoft's response to the brain dumpers, this is good information to have, and I'm sure we'll all be mindful of this going forward. The part about a dump file being a possible trap seems like an innovative way to catch the unwary cheater. Cheaters beware!!!

    Thanks again for this very useful information. I've marked your reply as helpful.

    James

    Friday, November 2, 2012 9:02 AM
  • This was just blogged on BTL

    Introducing the Anti-Piracy Program: http://borntolearn.mslearn.net/btl/b/weblog/archive/2012/11/02/introducing-the-anti-piracy-program.aspx


    When you see answers and helpful posts, please click Vote As Helpful, Propose As Answer, and/or Mark As Answer

    Jeff Wharton
    MSysDev (C.Sturt), MDbDsgnMgt (C.Sturt), MCT, MCPD, MCSD, MCITP, MCDBA
    Blog: Mr. Wharty's Ramblings
    Twitter: @Mr_Wharty
    MC ID: Microsoft Transcript

    Friday, November 2, 2012 10:13 PM
    Moderator
  • Thought I'd provide the following reply from Liberty Munson (Microsoft's psychometrician) regarding Microsoft's view on releasing exam question counts:

    Although the number of items is not explicitly identified in the NDA, "disseminating exam content" is, and we consider the number of items on an exam to be part of "exam content." More important, both the number of items and length of exam can change at any time as we continue to maintain the validity and reliability of the exam. Sharing this level of information sets expectations for candidates that may not be appropriate when they take the exam and even speculating on this does a significant disservice to candidates who are preparing for the exam because it may change the way they study for and take the exam.


    When you see answers and helpful posts, please click Vote As Helpful, Propose As Answer, and/or Mark As Answer

    Jeff Wharton
    MSysDev (C.Sturt), MDbDsgnMgt (C.Sturt), MCT, MCPD, MCSD, MCITP, MCDBA
    Blog: Mr. Wharty's Ramblings
    Twitter: @Mr_Wharty
    MC ID: Microsoft Transcript


    Wednesday, November 14, 2012 1:47 AM
    Moderator