Yesterday I realized that my Friday’s calendar is wide open, and I decided to take the test called Adobe Flex 2 Developer Exam”. Well, I knew plenty of other ways to kill Friday, but I had to take this exam and here’s why. About two years ago I went through training and became Adobe Flex Certified Instructor. At the time, Flex2 Developer Certification did not exist.
Last year, my colleague also became certified Flex instructor, but he had to pass the developer’s exam first. I was happily giggling to myself till March of 2008 when I had to contact Adobe about purchasing the courseware for my Flex 3 class. They picked my records and found out that I was never certified as a Flex developer. Yes, they realized that it was not my fault, but said – that they wouldn’t let me use Adobe’s courseware until I pass the developer’s exam.
Finally I found a day to take the test. The next question was how to prepare for it. Needless to say, that being good developer has not much to do with passing the multiple choice computer based exam, but I had no choice.
In the past, I went through a similar certification exam in PowerBuilder and Java and started googling for mock exams. Let me tell you, this is not Java, which has tons of free test emulators. I found one and it was not free. The name of this Flex 2 test is Attest. It started with forcing me to install more than 60Mb of .Net framework files. Isn’t Flex a better no-install solution for mock exams for Flex? Not too kosher , but I did not have a choice.
Attest had a free trial 35-min test with emulates a half of the real one. The passing score was 72, and I decided to take a shot without any preparation. To my surprise I got 68. Actually, I’d pass the test but one of the questions in the test had a wrong answer. This gave me hope, and I spent half a day skimming through Adobe’s courseware that I use for teaching. If you don’t have it, get the book “Training from the source”. Get the new one even though you’ll be preparing for an old exam. Then, I skimmed through first 200 pages of the book “Essential ActionScript 3.0”, and finally, looked at the information about charting in livedoc . This was my preparation.
I’m sure, eventually the folks that created Attest will get their act together and will release a Flex or AIR version of this test, but even now, I’m thankful for giving me an idea that if I did not know that HLOC chart was a good selection for displaying financial data, I would not pass the test.
Today, I’ve arrived to one of the closest authorized testing centers. These guys take this process very seriously. First, they’ve confiscated my cell phone so I would not ask help from friends like in the popular show “Who wants to be a millionaire”. Then, I’ve signed up a document that was forbidding doing anything but breathing and typing. After that, the guy asked me,
“How many erasable pads do you need to take with you?”
“ You may need to take notes during the exam, but you can’t have a regular notepad and a pencil”
I wonder if anyone ever went through a polygraph test? How was it?
Then the guy showed me to a specially designated and equipped room. While going there, I was thinking to myself, “If I knew they would not ask me to take off my shoes, I’d prepare some mini index cards and put them inside the heels”. But when we’ve arrived to the room, I realized that it would not work – a grim poster read “The room is under constant video and audio surveillance”.
The poster did not lie. I noticed a camera under the ceiling, and the guy politely said, “After you are done with the test, please remain seated, just say aloud that the test is over. I’ll be watching you anyway.”
And the test began. It consisted of 67 questions, you’ve got 75 minutes, and the passing score was 73%. There are four categories of questions:
Flex Application User Interface Creation
Flex System Architecture and Design
Flex Application Programming Fundamentals
Interacting with Remote Data and Flex Applications.
The questions were not too difficult, but sometimes they tried to trick you hoping that you’d forget when to use the property lastResult, and when just result, what are the method signatures of some functions, and some basic OO stuff. I was really surprised seeing there a couple of UML diagrams, and I was expected to remember UML notation and identify one of the four classes that corresponded to that diagram. Some questions were poorly formulated (was it on purpose?), and this could be the only reason I did some wrong (I do not know which ones though).
Anyway, I got 83% and passed the test, which did not make me happier.
This test did not prove much. Any young person with good memory can pass this test after reading a couple of Flex books. Memorizing method signatures and other information that is just one click away in the real world and remembering these things does not make anyone better programmer.
Such certification is useful only when you are applying for a job, and your employer has no qualified people to interview you. The fact that you are certified gives the employer some peace of mind. I’m not sure though how to check if the person who claims that s/he’s certified really is.
That’s my certification story. I wish you good luck if you decide to get one too. Hopefully, Adobe will release the Flex 3 version of the exam before the release of Flex 4.