I have completed reading the “MCTS Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-536): Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0–Application Development Foundation”. That’s 16 chapters, or 1,050 pages of lovely technical goodness. My overall assessment is that I definitely learned from every chapter. Some of this stuff I do every day and there are portions of the framework that I am still surprised by. I even started reading some chapters thinking, “Oh, this one will be a breeze.” and finished the chapter thinking that I wasn’t nearly as smart as I thought I was.
Now that I’ve completed reading the book I can look back and see what I’ve done wrong and should do differently for my next test.
What I did wrong
- Cramming a bunch of chapters into one day.
- Not keeping track of all the lesson tests.
- Keeping detailed notes.
I fell behind on my studying right out of the gate and to catch up I went through 7 1/2 chapters in one day. Although this felt productive it was a mistake. Near the end of my studying (the last two hours or so) I was just powering through chapters to get through them and I don’t feel that I got as much learning out of them as I could have. I think that in the future I would limit myself to a maximum of four hour studying in one day.
The result of this is that I have had to go back and reread 7 out of the 16 chapters. My other lessons-learned are related to this first key mistake also. Each chapter in the book is broken up into multiple lessons. At the end of each lesson there are questions that you can answer to test how well you learned key concepts in that lesson. I wish that I had kept track of how well I answered the questions to evaluate my progress on each lesson later. Instead I just asterisked the chapters that I needed to revisit. This resulted in my having to reread a bulk of information that I didn’t necessarily need to reread. I would have been better served to just reread the lessons that I had problems with. I also wish that I had kept notes as I read to pull the valuable nuggets of information out of the chapter that I really need to remind myself of.
To combat these mistakes so far, I have reread 4 of the 7 chapters that I feel that I didn’t quite get and I have plans to reread the other three. I have also created a document to help me study. First I have to commend Microsoft Press for publishing this book with a CD that contains an entire copy of the book as PDF. This is of great value to me because I can study on the computer if I need to (though I rarely do because I’m more prone to distraction). And I can also pull excerpts out and into a document that I can use for studying. To this end I have created a document using OpenOffice to help me study. It contains the following:
- the table of contents (to track progress and take notes on troublesome lessons),
- the questions from the end of each lesson (to test myself on the whole book in one go),
- and the answers to the questions above from the end of each lesson (to score my answers to the questions).
I will be keeping this document updated as necessary and sharing it with people that need it for study. I would really like to make it available for download but, since it contains at least ten percent of the book directly copy and pasted into it but reformatted to meet my study needs I’d be nervous of violating copyright. Such is the legal climate in which we live I suppose.