MCTS exams - what are these certification trying to solve exactly?

Just walked out of a MCTS exam, the one in question is actually 70-630, after 30minutes.  The exam was allocated 2hours.  I'm full of mixed feelings.  Relief, but highly puzzled and unsatisfied by the whole exam.

The format is a series of questions - of the contents I can't comment, but of the quality of the questions…  Imagine something like this:

You need to do something in SharePoint, what do you need to do?

  • Fiddle with Active Directory and do A
  • Play with SQL Server and do B
  • Configure SharePoint and do C
  • Run Exchange Server and do D

No surprises which is the right answer.  Even if you don't know jack about SharePoint.  Repeat these questions for half an hour.

I try to justify why such exams (and by association, certifications) are necessary.

  1. It proves you have experience with the technology, or at least, can find your way around in that technology, and use it to Actually Solve Problems
  2. It proves that you have a good overall understand of the technology and product, and that you can be relied on to Implement Solutions with the technology
  3. It makes the companies sponsoring you to do the test happy that they've got another certified professional, which they can then tell their clients

I then, try to justify, and fail badly, at understanding why the questions were give away…  Pay the money for the examination, most of it is a tax write-off anyway.  No previous training or experience necessary.  Pass the test.  Pat on the back.

  1. Perhaps…  and this I can somewhat understand, it's just hard to write "good but wrong" answers.  You start with a question, with an answer.  Then you try to put in the typical two way-off answers, and one really close answer.
  2. Perhaps the problem is with the multiple-choice format.  Itself, which lends to the traditional 4-answer format.


  1. Make the exam harder.  Make people sweat, make them unsure whether they should submit the exam, or pause and go back and review one more time
  2. Or get rid of the multiple choice format.  How about this:

Each question's answer is made up of a sentence with dropdown boxes where you can select keywords.  Imagine something like this:

You need to do something in SharePoint, what do you need to do?

[Fiddle/Play/Configure/Run] [Active Direcotry/SQL Server/SharePoint/Exchange Server] and do [A/B/C/D]

(imagine [xxx] is a drop down box).  You can even give partial answers for getting "really close" to the "right answer" but no cigar.

and do as well as