I recently got myself a free TS: .NET 4 web applications certification; and since before I did, I didn’t find too much information about what to expect from the exam, what to do before and after, and what to look into, I thought I would share my experiences.

First let me explain how I got it for free. If you are a student, you can get one free Microsoft exam from dreamspark. It’s a fairly complicated process, but there’s a step-by-step tutorial on the site to walk you through it. I was a student until after a week ago, dunno if someone actually checks to see if you really are a student as long as you have valid ISIC card. You can choose from a ton of exams with 72 prefix (these are for students and are cheaper, there is no actual difference in their content). I went with the 70-515 TS: Web Applications Development with Microsoft .NET Framework 4, since that is what I’ve been doing for past two years. You can choose which testing center you want to use (should be several if you live in moderately big city) and also choose the time and date. I chose a date so I had more than a week to prepare for the exam.

So I was signed up, and went online to look for some materials to get ready. One thing I noticed is there are some sites that sell some materials and example test for about $100. I just laughed at that, because as an individual, I’m not about to spend $100 to prepare for $40 exam (if it wasn’t for free). I also tried some free demos of ‘example exam’ software. Most of them were somewhat sketchy, although some questions were in fact similar to the ones on the exam. Not too helpful though.

Other than that, the only content I found were CBT nuggets (snatched from torrent of course, otherwise it’s kind of expensive) and self-paced training kit that costs $40 (I managed to get it from a torrent, but didn’t read it anyway – way too much text). The CBT nuggets videos are worth watching I guess, they only deal with basics, but it’s a nice overview of what to expect. As I said, there was not much to go on. My only preparation was the CBT nuggets and some sketchy looking practice exam software.

Fortunately the exam was easy enough for someone who regularly works with ASP.NET or MVC (or both) that I have been able to pass it. Here’s how is the exam structured: first you answer a few irrelevant questions, and click about a hundred times through various terms and licenses and whatnot before you get to answer the actual questions. Then there are 51 questions that matter. All of these are either multiple or single choice (no drag&drop and similar nonsense), and if it’s multiple choice you know how many choices are correct. I personally like these kinds of tests, since you can usually tell the correct answer by comparing the choices with each other, looking for something that’s wrong with them.

With that, let me tell you what kinds of questions you can expect:

  1. Typical usage of controls such as validators, custom user/web controls, data bound controls – pretty easy stuff
  2. Cache – how to set output cache in and cache dependency in page directive/web.config (VaryByParam, data caching)
  3. When is it correct to do certain things (Init, Load, PreRender etc.)
  4. Localization – remember to always set CurrentUICulture, and know how to user resources in aspx code
  5. Master pages – access master page property from page, set master page type on page
  6. JavaScript – some jquery code to parse xml, selectors, AJAX, DOM manipulation; jquery and standard js – there really was quite a few JavaScript questions, JSON
  7. WCF services – this caught me by surprise – know how to call WCF services from JavaScript, how to setup service host etc.
  8. Web deploy
  9. Little LINQ
  10. Some administration stuff, some was really simple, and some I didn’t know at all so I guessed
  11. MVC 2 – That’s what I work with the most, so that was easiest for me – setup routes, know folder structure, how to add actions and views, areas, html helpers

That’s what I remember anyway. I don’t claim that it is everything there is or could be, but should give you some idea. If you work with ASP.NET and MVC on daily basis, you should have no trouble passing this exam.

I got 790/1000 points if you’re interested. And this is what I have to show for it: