Tuesday, October 1, 2002

The quest for re-certification in ND6

CERTIFICATION PREPARATION

By Dan Velasco

This October began with the most significant set of Lotus product announcements I've seen since I first started working with Lotus products over five years ago. Not only did you have the release of Notes and Domino 6, but also the release of QuickPlace 3 and Sametime 3 as well as Learning Space - Virtual Classroom. Any of these alone is pretty exciting, but when you take them all together (and see how they can be integrated) you really start to see the new level of collaboration power that Lotus has provided us with.

I had been excited about the impending release of Lotus Notes and Domino 6 (or ND6, as the hipsters call it) for quite some time. Like many Lotus professionals, I couldn't wait to become re-certified in the latest version. My goal was to become re-certified in application development as soon as possible after the release of the product. So, when the update exam became available on Monday, October 7, 2002, I immediately called and registered to take the exam on Tuesday morning, October 8, at 10:00 a.m. Did I pass? How did I prepare for the test? Well, you're just going to have to read on to find out.

Facing up to the exam

I'm always a little bit worried when I'm about to take a Lotus certification exam. This is partly due to the fact that I have a pretty good track record when it comes to taking and passing the exams, and I don't want to mess it up. As of Monday, before I took the update exam, I had taken ten Lotus certification exams and passed all ten on the first try. I'm not saying that to brag, but rather to say that I've made sure to never underestimate the tests and always tried to prepare as thoroughly as possible. Also, knowing that if I failed the exam I'd have to pay for the $100 exam fee myself has always been motivating, especially in the early (poor) days of my career.

I did hear an interesting story about taking certification exams that I'd like to share with you now, although I can't remember the source. A young, enthusiastic IT professional is talking to a more seasoned (i.e., jaded/grizzled) professional about a certification exam that the he (the young professional) passed with a score of 95%. The young professional is obviously very proud of his score, to which the seasoned professional asks, "What score did you need to get to pass the exam?" The young professional responds, "I needed to get 70% to pass." The seasoned professional then tells the young professional, "So, you over-studied by 25%!"

The lesson in that story has stayed with me. I have a tendency to be a perfectionist, and I always like scoring as high as possible on exams, especially certification exams. But the bottom line is that you have to keep in mind that your objective is to pass and that getting a great score might be satisfying ego-wise but may not be worth the extra effort you spent studying for the exam rather than building real-world solutions. And, honestly, when was the last time you told someone you were a CLP and they asked you what your scores were on all of the individual exams you took, or how often you took each exam before you passed it? If you get a perfect score on a certification exam you take in the woods, does anyone care (or even ask)?