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As I work for a Microsoft Gold Partner, they are keen for me to become certified. They have left it up to me to decide which certifications I want to go for.

I had started training for the .NET 4 MCTSs but I am finding them harder than expected. Part of the problem is that I mostly work with 3.5 as my part of job and only work with 4 at home.

Should I just give myself a break and go for the 3.5 exams? Would other employers think it was bad/strange that I'm still sitting 3.5 exams in 2011?

I would still like to know all the latest technologies but at the moment I'm just finding that there is too much. By the time I'm ready for .NET 4 they will probably have released 5, and the cycle will continue.

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Don't forget that you can get MCTS with a single exam in the .NET 4 streams, whilst it takes two exams in the 3.5 streams. That may be part of why you're finding the .NET 4 exams harder. –  Carson63000 May 27 '11 at 11:52
@Carson63000 - I didn't know that. Thanks –  Buh Buh May 27 '11 at 14:47

4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

If the .NET 3.5 exams make life easier for you and your employer then just do them. Yes there's a few new fangled things in .NET 4 such as dynamic types but to be honest I wouldn't sweat over it.

From your employers perspective they're making sure they fill their quota of minimum qualified people for their partner agreement (I work for a partner as well). They'll be making sure they have a reasonable buffer of qualified bodies just in case someone leaves.

MS qualifications don't expire like they used to, the last MS cert I did was my MCSD.NET back in 2003 and it still counts towards our partner points. I haven't bothered to refresh to the latest certs and probably won't unless the MCSD.NET no longer counts towards the partner agreement.

The .NET 3.5 certs will be valid for a good few years in this respect.

As Alan mentioned, you can't beat Transcender practice exams, they're sometimes harder than the real thing. If you find yourself passing these with 88% and above then you have no problems with the live exam.

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Thanks, it's good to get some advice from people who have been doing these certs for some time. I will definatly check out Transcender. –  Buh Buh May 27 '11 at 16:06

I don't think it is wise to take certification exams in areas you have no experience. All you are going to do is cram for the test and forget half of it. Seems your current employer is playing the Microsoft Partner game, so they want as many of their people to be certified as possible. Why aren't they paying for training materials?

This also depends on how much importance employers in your area place on certification. If it is very strict, go for 4.0. No worries on not being able to apply what you've learned, because you're just going for the piece of paper.

You're experienced. Check current jobs availability and see how important certifications are. You may find you're marketable enough for the types of jobs you want. No sense in preparing to work at places you'll hate.

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Who said they don't pay for training materials? They treat me pretty good and I don't have intentions to move any time soon. They want me to have a certification and I'm happy to get it if it means a pay-rise and more job security. –  Buh Buh May 27 '11 at 14:23

Take exams from .NET 3.5. I did several exams for .NET 1.1 when .NET 2.0 was already released, I did several exams for .NET 2.0 when .NET 3.5 was already released and I did exam for .NET 3.5 two weeks ago and I'm planning next one within few weeks. At least it should mean that I already have some hands on experience with the version when I'm taking the exam. As you see in your current company there are still projects using .NET 3.5 - you can be pretty sure that there are still companies supporting projects in .NET 1.1 and 2.0. Moreover content of .NET 3.5 is not obsolete by .NET 4.0 (some methods or APIs can be - for example Workflow foundation 3.5). .NET 4.0 adds new features but old features and approaches from .NET 3.5 are still valid and usable.

You mentioned that you don't have experience with .NET 4.0 and you don't use it on daily basis. It also sounds like you also never used it in the real world project. Even if you prepare for the exam it means nothing. When you look for a new job you can be sure that certification can help you pass some selection in HR departments but that is all. Once you meet somebody on technical interview they will check if you know the stuff from the exam. It is better to take exam where you have long experience and you will remember the stuff for some time.

I answered a question about test exams yesterday. I also described some recent experience with MS exams in that answer.

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What you said about my experiance with 4 is right. I wish I could pass out some up votes but I don't have enough repution here. Which is silly because by rep is good on StackOverflow. –  Buh Buh May 27 '11 at 14:45

Stick with the .Net 4 exams. The 4.0 test have just rolled out (heck MS still hasn't released all the training books for all the tests yet!)

3.5 will be phased out soon so it will be seen as an obsolete certification by those hiring pretty soon.

I'm in the same boat in that I only work with 2.0 and 3.5 websites all day but I'm working on getting my MCPD Web Developer 4. I'll actually be taking the 70-515 test in about a week.

If you're having difficulty learning check out Transenders. They're a bit expensive ($139 per test to download permanently or $109 for 30 day online access) but the test prep system is really good. You run through test exams that ask questions very similar to what to expect on the real tests. The nice thing is it gives you detailed explanations for why each of the multiple choice answers are right or wrong. They have a pass guarantee so if you do fail you can at least get your money back :)

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Thanks, I'll take a look at Transenders. I would gladly pay that price if it means I can get this sorted sooner. –  Buh Buh May 27 '11 at 16:09

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