The nonsense of Microsoft Certification

Posted on 2007-11-08 21:54:00

When I started to work at my current job, I had to follow a 6-week course in .NET programming, followed by a Microsoft certification exam. If I didn’t pass the exam (.NET 2.0 Foundation), I would be fired.

The course started with reading through the book that covers all stuff you can possibly get in the exam. The next four weeks were dedicated to writing a program that will never be used and will be thrown away like yesterday’s meal left-overs after the course is over. Nevertheless, it was interesting enough.

In the last week, we were supposed to be preparing for the exam. Here comes the interesting part: the questions and answers to those questions of the exam itself were available. In effect, all we had to do was learn those questions and answers by heart and we would pass.

The exam itself was therefore a doozy: out of the 80-or-so possible questions, we got 45 on the exam. All of the question were either multiple-choice, or “select all that apply from the following list”, and, surprise, surprise, even the answers weren’t put in a random order. On top of that, there were several questions concerning DES encryption, and all of them had D as answer.

So, actually, passing the exam means that you can successfully memorize 80 questions and their accompanying letter(s).

After hearing multiple colleagues pass several other exams in the same way, I can conclude that there’s absolutely no value in the Microsoft certification process. Its only purpose seems to be to keep managers happy, and to fill Microsoft’s pockets.

I’ve heard that companies get a discount on Microsoft products if an X percentage of their people is certified. One question then remains: what’s cheaper, paying the full price, or paying less but having to pay for the exams your employees take? Only Microsoft knows …

[edit] I just heard at work that being a Microsoft Gold Partner means that our company saves about 50,000 euros in software costs per year. That’s quite a sum, but I still think this whole certification process is nonsense.

Posted in: Work