An IT professional has claimed that the official home study training materials for the Microsoft Certified Professional qualification do not cover all aspects of the curriculum.
The IT professional, a Windows support engineer with five years' experience, recently failed the MCP computer-based supporting Windows 95 examination.
He claims the Microsoft self-paced training material he used did not fully reflect the questions he was asked in the examination. The examination involved answering 70 questions in 90 minutes.
The u188 home study material, published by Microsoft Press, claims to cover the official curriculum and provide "essential information for support professionals preparing to take the Microsoft Certified Professional exam on implementing and supporting Windows 95".
Thomas Lee, a Microsoft Certified Trainer who runs his own training company, feels there are shortcomings in MCP home study guides generally. He also offered a possible explanation for the Microsoft Press guide: "The actual exam and the courseware are written by different people."
Debbie Walsh, channel programme marketing manager at Microsoft, admitted that some questions on the MCP examinations are ambiguous, although claimed: "Our exams have vastly improved over the last couple of years."
The case highlights a potential shortcoming of computer-based testing methods. Home study guides are popular because of the huge expense of attending professional classroom training, which can cost #2,500 for a nine-day MCP course.
The MCP qualification is widely accepted in the computer industry. Last month more than 400 people passed. However, the failure rate is a staggering 50%.
Peter Morris, technical director of The Mandebrot Set, a firm of IT consultants which provides questions for MCP exams, said multiple choice questions are a problem with computer-based tests.
"Some questions are worded in such a way as to make them open to interpretation," he said.
Morris explained that in a computer-based test it is not possible for a candidate to ask the examiner what is meant by a particular question in order to resolve the ambiguity.
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