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What Kinds of Problems?

Here's the crux of the matter: Simulated sequences of menu commands and keystrokes don't accurately reflect real-world situations in which administrators may use alternative—and quite possibly more efficient—approaches.

For example, imagine that you're taking an exam. You receive a simulation question that instructs you to perform a task that you do routinely at work—something like renaming a user account. No problem, right? Well, you might not think so when you try to perform the task on the exam and discover that the simulated interface doesn't function like the operating system you use at work.

Consider the following fictional—but representative—example of the types of issues that people are experiencing with the new simulation questions. Assume that you try running the command dsa.msc to open Active Directory Users and Computers on the exam. Although running dsa.msc launches Active Directory Users and Computers in the real operating system, the simulation's interface generates an error rather than opening the correct console. Easy enough to work around: You can open the Active Directory Users and Computers through the Start menu. If that were the only problem with the simulation, there wouldn't be much to complain about. However, the problems get much worse.

Suppose a user account named Bob must be renamed to John. You right-click Bob's account, expecting to see the Rename option on the resulting context menu, as you would in the real operating system. However, the Rename option is not available, as it would be in the real Windows Server 2003 operating system (see Figure 1).

Figure 01

Figure 1 Renaming a user account in Active Directory Users and Computers.

If you could click that Rename option, you could type the new name. A screen would appear, allowing you to easily reset all the names assigned to the Bob account (see Figure 2).

Figure 02

Figure 2 Renaming Bob's user account to John.

Still, the same task can be done inside the user properties, so you right-click and select Properties. Now assume that you use the user properties screen to change the settings for all of the following to read John instead of Bob:

  • Full Name
  • First Name
  • Display Name
  • User Logon Name
  • User Logon Name (pre-Windows 2000)

Great! The task is complete and you click OK. You see the name changes in the Active Directory Users and Computers details pane.

But pretend that you decide to double-check the user properties to be sure that all of the changes were implemented correctly. (That's a real-world scenario, not to mention a test-taker's nervousness.) So you double-click the recently renamed John account. However, the resulting dialog box is named Bob Properties instead of John Properties. Even though you completed the task, the simulation interface doesn't fully display the changes. After looking at the user properties a little further, you notice that some of the entries you modified didn't remain changed. You now see Bob's name appear unchanged on a couple of the screens where you changed it. You might start asking yourself what to do about it:

  • Should I start over by clicking the Reset button?
  • Should I fix the settings that appear to be wrong and hope that they save correctly this time?
  • Should I simply consider this an interface glitch and move on?

Personally, I would just move on to the next question. Still, it isn't clear how you will be scored in this situation.

Unfortunately, people are seeing even bigger problems than the ones I just described. In some interfaces, candidates are reporting that they're unable to complete assigned tasks because the simulator won't allow it. I had a problem like this on Exam 70-290. Although I passed that exam, I literally could not complete an assigned task because one of the interface buttons that I needed was grayed out and couldn't be clicked. I double-checked that situation after the exam, and it was definitely a problem with the exam interface.

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