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Microsoft's Performance-Based Testing (PBT)

In this article we are going to take a quick look at Microsoft's exam simulations and some new scoring changes that are coming soon.

For starters, Microsoft calls their simulation questions "Performance-Based Testing" or PBT. Microsoft included these types of questions in a few exams on the Windows 2003 track and is attempting to include them in as many next-generation exams (MCITP/MCTS) as possible, although currently only a few have them. It should be noted that no exams are completely performance-based. All PBT exams also contain traditional types of questions such as multiple choice and "select-and-place" (aka "drag-and-drop").

These types of questions are designed to test a candidate's ability to perform various tasks, rather than simply answer a multiple choice question. Microsoft has chosen to include these types of questions on their exams for obvious reasons - It is difficult to memorize a braindump of a PBT type question. In other words, the implementation of these types of questions improves exam security and integrity.

You might already know everything discussed so far, however, Microsoft Learning's Trika Harms zum Spreckel revealed some interesting tidbits and scoring changes for next generation exams (MCTS) in her blog. Below is a summary of these changes:
  • Your score on MCTS exams with PBT is divided into 2 scores - Your PBT score and your score on the rest of the questions (traditional type questions). The score report only shows you the lowest of these 2 scores. So if you score 200 on the PBT and 100% on the rest, your score report will show your score as 200. Obviously this is very misleading.
  • In the coming months, Microsoft will update this scoring process so that your score report shows your scores for both components separately.
  • You must pass both the PBT portion AND the traditional style portion of an exam in order to pass. In other words, if you get 100% on the multiple choice questions and 300 on the PBT portion, you will fail and vice versa.
  • PBT questions do not measure how many steps it takes to complete the simulation, only the final result.
You can view a demo of a PBT type question here.