It took me some time, but I’ve finally went for my upgrades (MCPD to MCSD). It seems that I need only 4 exams to upgrade everything (I’ve made a separate post about that - http://gebski.tumblr.com/post/55622417199/another-twist-in-microsoft-certifications), so it doesn’t seem to be a big deal. First hurdle - 70-480 - Programming in HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS3. It went smoothly and here are my two cents about that.

What has changed since previous waves (.NET 4.0 and below)?

Not much. Exam consists of 58 questions and you have 120 minutes to answer those. Each question is either a standard multiple choice question (1 or more of many) or you have to answer yes/no to several subquestions. Sometimes you have to put the multiple choice answers in order (for example - you fill the gaps in the code with some pre-made options). And that’s all, nothing really fancy, no cases, no scenarios. Questions are usually quite concise, sometimes you get a drawing or a piece of code (as a description).

Is it hard?

The difficulty level is rather low (especially JS questions) - usually you can eliminate the most absurd options in few seconds and by using pure common-sense and some experience with the technology, you can answer at least 50% of questions. Unfortunately, the number of typos in questions and answers (!) artificially raises the difficulty level (you waste time on wondering whether it’s a typo or someone tried to be a smartass while inventing this question). But still, the amount of time provided is more than sufficient.

There was a question that was absolutely and utterly dumb - about movies and web sockets. It just didn’t make sense because answers seems rather unrelated to the question itself - hopefully you won’t get it in your set, because I was really dumbfounded :)

How did I prepare?

The good thing is that you don’t really have to memorize meaningless syntax details to pass the exam - I’ve spend just few evenings on reminding myself some HTML5 constructs I have less experience with (web workers, web sql, web sockets, some rare CSS additions) and that was pretty much my whole preparation (well, that plus few years of active web development, including quite a huge recent SPA project :D).

But does it make sense to certify in MSFT?

Well, it’s a totally different story. When I started my certification, I was really proud with myself, because I treated those exams as some kind of proof of proficiency. Some I’ve passed better, some worse (I was really close to failing on ADO.NET exam), but in the end I’ve passed all I wanted, so I felt like I’ve confirmed & discounted the practical experience I’ve gained on several .NET projects.

And then I’ve learned that half of India is already fully certified because they download exam answers from the internet and memorize them (and Microsoft is too lazy to create bigger exams sets). Believe it or not, I felt cheated. All my effort (I’ve spent 3 months of daily preparations <2-3 hours a day> to BizTalk 2010 exam) made no sense at all, as others got the same outcome (certificate) with pretty much no stress.

So in the end, my opinion is - having certificates is nice, do it if you can (I do it, because I get free vouchers), but if you’re about to verify someone’s proficiency, don’t rely on certificates or titles - it’s just not reliable at all.