Updated: I’ve re-uploaded my flash cards to WordPress. When you download the file, rename it to .anki (see the Anki application below). I wrote them for my personal use, so some might not make perfect sense, however I’m certain you will find them useful.
To prepare for sitting my MCTS the first thing I did was to ask as many of my colleagues (who have all taken many certification exams) about their approach to passing. The feedback was unanimous in that practise tests are the key to passing. This would be the backbone to my studying.
I bought the 70-515 Microsoft Self Paced training kit as a study guide and starting point. I would recommend the training kit as it was concise and covered 95% of the information that you need to know. Buy the book and read it cover to cover a few times.
After I was about half way through the book I asked around again as to which practise test provider I should use. My feedback was that Transcender was good quality and as it happened at the time had a 40% off deal through Microsoft Partners. I bought the practise tests and got to work running over and over them to get up to close to 100% correct. What I like about the Transcender package is that it comes with Flash cards which make you dig a bit deeper into your knowledge.
The actual MCTS 70-515 test is multiple choice, however with flash cards, you will be given a question and no options. Therefore you have to think. This thinking really strengthens those neural pathways and solidifies your memory.
I started off the process taking detailed, hand written notes. I soon found that was slowing me down and that It was slow to go back on them. With the knowledge that writing stuff down further helps your memory retention, and knowing that Flash cards were beneficial I found Anki which is a free piece of software that allows you to create flash cards. Instead of writing hand written notes I converted to writing them into Anki. I wrote my notes as meaningful questions, so that I could replay the flashcards and test my knowledge. Anki also will shuffle the ones that you get constantly correct to the back of the pack and the ones you get wrong more frequently to the front. /Win
I soon found that the book plus the test exams were not enough to pass. Reading MSDN proved to be very helpful as well as various blog posts. In particular the following post is an awesome listing of a huge swathe of items that you could be tested upon.
Make sure you do timed tests so that you have a feeling for how fast you should go. My test was 51 questions and I had 140 minutes to complete the test with the questionnaire and evaluation. It will take you around 10 mins to fill out the questionnaire and evaluation. Also worth noting, you can go forward and backward in the exam, whilst marking questions you want to come back to later. My approach was to go through all the ones I easily knew, marking down the ones I didn’t know or was unsure about. This meant I didn’t get anxious that I was spending too long on a hard question. I came back at the end to tackle all the odds and sods.
I found a decent approach to answering the multiple choice questions is that they usually give you 4 or 5 options. 2 of them will be blatantly wrong and the remaining possibilities will have subtle syntactical differences.
Each question in the exam is weighted differently and some of the questions aren’t even used in your score! The pass mark for the 70-515 was 700 out of 1000.
I hope this helps some one pass!