This is part 2 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.
There were two questions I wanted answered when I set out to study for the exam:
- How much time is reasonably needed to pass the exam?
- What materials are recommended and/or needed to pass the exam?
The first question was impossible to answer or to find an answer to. The second one was a bit easier, even though I had to filter the many suggestions to use Braindumps. Here is my answer to both.
Let’s kick off with an overview of the materials used, and provide an answer to question one:
|MSDN Getting Started With WCF Tutorial||2|
|Book: Programming WCF services, 3rd Edition||35|
|Book: Windows Communication Foundation 4 Step by Step||47|
|Book: Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5- WCF Self-paced Training Kit||34|
|Stack Overflow: Reading and answering questions on [WCF]||30|
|Memorizing web.config’s system.serviceModel section||6|
|Reviewing All 70-513 Exam Objectives||36|
If you’re going to create a study plan for yourself based on this, you should note the following:
- These are pure study hours; breaks and such are not included.
- This is what worked for me; no warranty given or implied!
- I spent these hours mostly in the order above.
- Before these hours I had zero experience with WCF, a wee bit experience with ASMX services, and quite a bit of experience with ASP.NET.
The great thing about these 200- hours: this is approximately what I estimated up front I’d need to get a passing grade.
Here are some miscellaneous details about the abovementioned materials.
Programming WCF services, 3rd edition
This book by Juval Löwy is widely considered the most in-depth book about WCF. It explicitly focuses on the things the author deems important, leaving out (or just barely mentioning) the esoteric or “useless” bits of WCF. When studying for something I prefer to get in over my head, and slowly fill in the gaps. If you prefer to build up your knowledge steadily instead of doing a deep-dive: save this book for last.
Windows Communication Foundation 4, Step by Step
This book was probably the worst but most complete tour you could get for WCF. It takes you along most of the features with practical excercises, but is horrible in explaining things (even mis-informing at times). The worst part about this tour is the fact that you have to follow the tour guide to the letter, otherwise you’ll get lost without any clue how to get back on track. Glad I read the other book first, which allowed me to understand what this tour guide was showing me.
WCF 3.5 Self-paced Training Kit
There is no .NET 4 version of the WCF training kit (makes you wonder how invested Microsoft is in this technology, huh?). Instead, most fora recommend just grabbing the 3.5 version. This book is very decent, has topics chopped into nice small chunks, offering a mix of theory, exercises, and training questions. It also was very complementary to the book by Juval Löwy.
Answering questions on the various Stack Exchange sites is one of my current hobbies. It made sense to practice and test my WCF knowledge by answering questions, and I can highly recommend it as a form of study! It was based on the slogan: “If you want to get good at something, start teaching it!“. Words of wisdom.
Okay, maybe not one of the brightest ideas I had. It did act as a general review of WCF, but in the end it didn’t feel worth it. I suggest you spend your time on something else.
Reviewing the Exam Objectives
This was crucial to passing the exam. I printed all the objectives, and went through each letter of it, making sure I knew exactly what each and every item was about. I reviewed every topic by at least looking it up in one of the books I had, and often enough I also went on to read more about it on MSDN. This exercise was useful not in the least because there were some objectives on the list that weren’t even mentioned in any of the books.
There’s a lot about the 70-513 exam that understandably lures folks to using those brain dumps. The most important things to mention:
- WCF is a vast topic, boring in many aspects. Given that you’ll only use a small subset of WCF.
- Questions on the exam are horrible, with things like “In which namespace does class X reside?“.
- The exam on itself tests factual knowledge and not in the slightest practical proficiency.
Yet still I’m glad I finished and passed without resorting to “cheating”. The above study plan is what did the trick for me. Maybe it’ll help someone else too.