My Certification Journal: An introduction

It has been several years since I last prepped for a certification exam. For much of the last decade, I have worked as a technical writer creating documentation for proprietary software products. The nature of this work did not require me to recertify any of my previous accreditations, or get newly certified in any given technology.


Adult education

In recent months, however, I have been more aware of the rather musty state of my IT certifications, which include designations on older Microsoft technologies like Windows NT 4.0 and Windows Server 2000. True, I have built on this training over the years through work experience and self-study. I recently decided, however, that it was the right time to earn a certification on a newer technology.


After writing a recent article on the slowing adoption of Windows 8, I wasn't going to chose that particular OS to get certified on. Instead, I decided to work on earning the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) on Windows 7.


Windows 7 currently accounts for over half of all global Windows installations (according to recent data from NetMarketShare), making it the most popular version of Windows in the world. Achieving the MCSA: Windows 7 certification, I reasoned, would give me a newer, more relevant industry designation.


Having selected a goal, I approached the people at ExamForce, a company that creates high-quality certification training and exam preparation tools for individuals and organizations.


(Full disclosure: I have known the folks at ExamForce for close to 15 years, and have written various industry articles for their website over the last decade.)


Having been out of the certification process for so long, I wanted to get an idea of what the latest training and exam preparation tools are like, and how effective each type of product is. And I wanted to share this information with people who are interested in these tools for their own personal training and certification goals.


What you are currently reading, is the first in a series of personal blog entries detailing my experiences using select ExamForce products to train and prepare for the MCSA: Windows 7 exams. These two exams are:


Exam 70-680: Windows 7, Configuring
Exam 70-685: Windows 7, Enterprise Desktop Support Technician


Over the next few weeks, I will be writing about using the following ExamForce products:


CramMaster Online — Video courseware and exam preparation system
ExamForce Audio — Audio Q&A exam preparation
ExamForce Practice Labs — Online hands-on practice environments
ExamCoach — On-demand exam mentoring from industry pros


This should all culminate (hopefully) in passing both certification exams, and successfully earning the MCSA: Windows 7 designation.


My goal for documenting my training experiences, is to provide some helpful insight and information for anyone who is relatively new to IT certification, or who (like myself) is looking at renewing an old certification, or earning an entirely new designation.


Up next: Back to school with the CramMaster Online video courseware and exam preparation software.


Would you like more insight into the history of hacking? Check out Calvin's other articles about historical hackery:
About the Author
Aaron Axline is a freelance technology writer based in Canada.

Aaron Axline is a technology journalist and copywriter based in Edmonton, Canada. He can be found on LinkedIn, and anywhere fine coffee is served.