MCTS 70-513 (WCF) Study Plan (part 1 of 2)

This is part 1 in a series on the MCTS 70-513 exam. The first part is an introduction, the second part describes the study plan I followed to complete the exam.

A few months ago I started studying for the MCTS 70-513 exam on Microsoft WCF (web services). Before I started I had already heard of a phenomenon I knew under the name “TestKing”: test-questions to prep you for the actual exam. As I found out, “TestKing” is just one of the more well-known Brain Dump providers: cheat sheets with just about all the possible questions you may get on your actual exam.

Microsoft Learning logo Turns out a lot of people use these prep sets, usually as a companion to quite a bit of study time. They ginormously improve your chances of passing the exam, partially because they shield you from (amongst others) the utterly worthless type of question: “In which namespace does BadAssClassXyz live?”. In fact, it seems you can pass an exam with nothing else but about 20 hours of cramming those brain dumps.

Early on, I decided I would try to get the certification without using brain dumps.

Okay, glad I got that decision out of the way. Time to make a plan of attack, time to find out how much study time would be needed to pass the exam without resorting to cheating. So I hit up a typical Google query, but that turned up nothing. Following that I searched Programmers.SE, finding only this meagre question which just links to companies providing test exams or brain dumps. In the end, the only thing remotely useful was a blog post I didn’t find until one week before my exam date: this overview of MSDN links for reviewing the exam objectives.

Turns out, nobody knows, or at least nobody has posted online how much time studying for MCTS exams typically takes. Is it 40 hours? Maybe 150 hours? Or even a 1000 hours? Sure, the answer will always be “it depends” to some degree, but if only someone had posted how much time it took him/her this could help get a general idea.

So I decided to diligently keep track of my study hours, and publish them on my blog once I had passed my exam. By now I’m the proud owner of an MCTS 70-513 certificate. So stay tuned for part 2 in this series, where I’ll post the study plan actuals that turned out to be good enough for me.

Read on for part 2, detailing the study plan.