How hard is it to pass the 70–483 C# Exam?

JJ
JJ
Jun 26 · 6 min read

I have spent years debating whether to bother with the 70–483 C# Exam.

Back in the old days, the test was very crude. People could get cheat sheets, so just had to remember A,B,A,D,A,A,C etc. As a result, it’s reputation was a little tarnished. The exam is now more intelligent and the questions vary from person to person, so there’s little chance of knowing what you’re going to be asked before you start (as far as I know anyway!).

In addition you used to have to retake the exam every 3 years! I really cant be faffed re-doing stuff I’ve already done (imagine having to redo your GCSE’s/A-Levels/Degree!), so I gave it a miss.

However, in 2016, Microsoft Announced that Certifications would no longer expire and I became interested.

This year, my new years resolution was to stop always chasing the shiny-shiny and do something I didn’t really care about to completion. Doing boring tasks isn’t a strong point for me, but I’m actively aiming to improve. This seemed like a positive thing to do.

After a while where I didn’t have the time, I finally got the chance to gear up and do the exam — and passed first time (woo hoo!). Here’s what I did and what I would recommend. NONE of the links are affliate links. They are here only to help.

Note: I really didn’t want to fail, so you will probably be able to get away with less than this.


Whatever you do; Get the practice exam from MeasureUp .

I would argue that no matter how good you are at C#, nothing can really prepare you for the nit-picky questions the exam asks like the practice exams.

In fact, to start with, I was downright angry at some of the questions. They just seemed to be frustratingly hard games of spot-the-difference. This was the worst in there (don’t let this put you off — I’ve picked it out the absolute worst on purpose — most are just fine).

However, in amongst the occasional bit of crap there’s actually some really good learning to be had. The answers provided by MeasureUp are clear and, most importantly, correct.

Just to prove I’m not a MeasureUp fanboi or in any way paid by them - their support is crap imo.

This was my main source of learning. I did all 180+ questions twice over. I set the questions to “show answers to incorrect results”, then read what was right, researched it if necessary, AND researched the wrong answers too. When I needed to expand on things I’d never needed (hello SemaphoreSlim!), I Googled it and read the docs.

I also created a Console Application with lots of examples.

Couple of small points to mention - on the real exam, it’s more obvious which questions are multiple selection. Also, for multiple selection in the real exam, you get a point for each right selection, whereas MeasureUp is all or nothing. You need to watch out for multi selections — missing them is an easy way to lose points!

I still like a book. The MeasureUp test references C# in a Nutshell , though I plumped for Exam Ref 70–483 (2nd Edition) which I leisurely read cover to cover over about 4 weeks.

The book starts with the Task Parallel Library - not exactly newbie friendly. So, if you are just starting with C#, I would recommend something like Head First C# (4th edition comes out soon), or head over to (my beloved) PluralSight before you tackle this book. Either that, or start with one of the later sections of the book (about types, variables etc), then go back to the first.

The book is rightly critiqued on Amazon as having too many typo’s. For this reason, I would say you have to have a reasonable grounding before using it (especially in one part where “Asymmetric” is written in the place of “Symmetric” - Doh!). However, despite the typo’s it’s a really good book.

When I booked the exam, I chose the “home online proctoring” option, so I could take it online from home rather than hike over to a test centre. This was a great thing to do, as I could do the test in complete comfort. There were lots of potential appointment times, day and night. I’d recommend it to anyone thinking about taking the exam.

Before you do the exam, they check your ID and your room (including ceiling!) via the webcam to make sure you haven’t sneaked any cheat sheets about. They even checked my glasses inside and out!

You get 120 minutes to answer 40 questions (+ 4 trial questions) which is more ample than you expect. I am not the quickest reader, so was concerned, but I was able to answer all the questions, then review all my answers within the time. I had made some mistakes, so reviewing your answers is well worth doing.

You can’t navigate back to previous questions for the 4 trial questions, but you can go back and forward on the real questions. This disparity was a little odd.

Some of the questions touch on things you will never ever ever ever EVERRR use as a developer, and this is still my slight grievance with the test… And seriously Microsoft — what is the obsession with crusty old ‘COM’ ffs? Still, a lot of the stuff is on topics you will use regularly (LINQ, Data Access, TPL, Inheritance, Encapsulation etc).

I’d like to pretend it was a breeze after all the effort I put in, but it was pretty tricky in parts. I don’t think it would have mattered how long I spent learning — it would have been tricky and probably would have depended a bit on the luck of the questions I got. It’s scored out of 1000 points, 700 being the pass and I got roughly 850. The test covered parts which neither the book nor the practice questions had touched on.

Overall I would say it’s more tricky than hard, though you certainly need to keep in mind a lot of the .NET framework. Even after all my effort, I wouldn’t have been upset with myself had I failed. I would say it’s 75% knowledge, 20% knack, 5% luck that you get questions that suit you.

For me:
Procrastination: 7 years
Time from deciding I would do it: 6 months 6 days
Actual swatting time: *2 months* proper effort (outside of work + lunchtimes)
Overall time: 7 years 6 months?

As stated above, the exam is 120 minutes; 40 questions.

In terms of Job eligability, I don’t know for sure. I can’t see how it could do any harm and hopefully it will do some good. As I’m self taught, it’s nice to have something to show I do actually have a bit of a clue what this coding stuff is about.

After my initial frustration at some of the questions, I planned to give it a good roasting in this post. However, even as a developer with 10+ years experience, I still learned enough good stuff to make it worth doing.

With a bit of luck, I’ll spend less time looking something up on StackOverflow only to find I’ve previousy upvoted the correct answer :).

JJ

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JJ

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