Ok, I've passed. Score of 840 last Saturday.
This is a bit of a catch up blog on the steps I took to revise and prepare for the exam. I'm conscious that it's been a long time between this and my original posting so this will cover a fair amount of ground.
Good news is that there is a tremendous amount of good information available out there.
I only used the first day. This can be found on Channel 9. You can also access this same content via the Microsoft Virtual Academy Microsoft Virtual Academy. My preference was to go through the Academy as it kept track of your progress and provided you with some simple quizzes.
All in all I found the webcasts a great way to go through the basics. Certainly not enough to pass the exam though.
The other great thing about the webcast was that it provided a free exam for 70-480. This was of course great news, saved me paying for the exam - also provided me with a prompt to book the exam. I decided to book this in Manchester on a Saturday morning. None of the test centers are particularly near to me - but Saturday in Manchester meant that I could drop the wife & son at the Trafford Shopping Center - go off take the exam, and then meet them back for lunch and a film.
I believe is exam voucher is available until end of March 2013.
This is a great, if heavy going, book. Luckily for me we have a copy of this book in our work's library. So I took the opportunity to wade (yes I mean wade) through the 700 pages of guide.
Reading it became a labor of love with me averaging around 25 pages an hour. I had a fair amount of time off over the Christmas/ New Year period so I managed to get some heavy studying in. I do feel that my family may have questioned my sanity when I was reading this on Christmas day - but I have to admit, once I started I actually enjoyed it.
One small note: some of the content is dated. Some of the newer technologies have moved on since it was last printed so you'll need to keep this in mind in the later chapters.
The quality of the revision guides out there are great. My favorite was probably this one on TechExams.net forums.
But I also used two that I mentioned in my original post:
The great thing about the study guide where the ability to use them to review coverage and cram in the final weeks.
You will find that the guides to point you at the same content on a number of occasions - but personally I felt this was good for two reasons - firstly it gave me greater confidence in the content (more recommendations = better content) and secondly acted as a refresher. When you are reading a lot of stuff it helps sometimes to re-read (or just skim) content you have already done.
Again, a word of advice on timeliness of some of the articles. I found that some links where dead or the information was from the early stages of a HTML5 feature. Don't be surprised if you find conflicting articles regarding certain featured (local storage for one).
This is a reflection on the newness of the technology - if in doubt, try and find the Microsoft version of the story - after all it is their exam.
About a fortnight before I was due to take the exam, I re-visited Smarter to see how I'd progressed. I wanted to do this firstly to build up my confidence (hopefully) and secondly highlight which areas needed more work in the final weeks.
As an overall, I'd improved in all areas:
While this was great to see - and a great boost to the ego - it probably didn't help greatly. Unfortunately due to the way that Smarterer works it can quickly run out of questions - meaning there is no way to check your improvement. Avoid the temptation to "have another go" if you feel the original score isn't reflective - otherwise you just burn through their available questions. For example, I've done more work on jQuery since that last test - but I've run out of questions - so no means of being able to re-calibrate.
In terms of comparison between Smarterer and the Microsoft Exam - you are free to make your own connection between my scores. Personally I don't believe that there is any direct correlation other than to say aim to get as best a score on Smarterer as you can before taking the Microsoft one.
I have enjoyed taking the exam and glad I've done it. I've learn (or re-learnt in some cases) a huge amount not just about the subject but also the process.
I'll probably be looking at where to start on the next exam (70-486 I think) in the coming weeks. I'd like to complete the whole MCSD this year - but I also have a number of other projects I'd like to do.
Let me know if the above has helped.