If you haven’t scheduled your free Microsoft beta exam for test 71-178, “Microsoft Project 2010: Managing Projects,” you still have a little time to get into the testing center and tackle that before Microsoft closes the beta program. Check your email inbox for a message from MPUG with details on registration.

Recently, an MPUG member shared this tale of his beta test-taking experience so that you’ll know what to expect when you head to the Prometric testing center…

A Microsoft Project Beta Exam ExperienceI scheduled the exam for December 16 at 9 a.m. I arrived to the testing center at 8:30 and I was able to go in early to start the exam. When I arrived, I checked in at the front desk. The person led me into a room off the lobby where I stored all of my valuables and my computer. (Leave them at home if you’re able to.) Then I was guided to a room with 10 to 15 computers. I was given an erasable pen and an erasable type of paper for jotting notes down or doing calculations. (Both items are taken away at the end of the test.)

The proctor sat me down and activated my test, which started about 8:45. There’s an optional 15-minute practice exam in the beginning, which doesn’t count for your score but does give you practice at taking the test. It shows non-Project-related multiple choice questions where you’re supposed to select one answer, two of four answers, or the best response based on an exhibit. This latter type of question shows a pop-up exhibit, from which you answer the question. For example, you might need to order several choices as they’d actually transpire in real work.

Once you finish that practice test, you start the Project exam, and the countdown timer begins. As with the short practice test, the beta offered multiple choice and exhibit questions. Of the 75 questions in the beta, I’d say that about 75 to 80 percent were standard multiple choice.

Keep in mind, as you’re taking the beta exam that you can mark questions that you’d like to review later. This feature came in handy for the long and tedious questions. On the last screen of the exam, you’re given the opportunity to return to those questions for review.

When I finished going through the questions, I took a break. Although the countdown timer continues clicking, I stepped out of the testing room for a restroom break, returned with a slightly clearer head, and reviewed each question again — whether or not I had marked it for official review — and then clicked finish on the beta exam to submit my final answers. (I actually changed my answer on one question during that review period.)

Although in the actual exam, you’ll get your score at the end of the test, this is a beta, which means Microsoft has to analyze the results to determine what the final set of questions will be. That in turn will determine how well you did on the exam. The test shows a screen that explains that your score will be mailed to you.

After you’ve clicked Submit, Microsoft gives you the chance to go through the exam once again — though without the ability to change your answers — in order to provide feedback on any of the questions you found confusing or too obvious or too complex. I commented on one question in which I didn’t consider any of the answers very clear.

Following that, there’s a brief survey about the Prometric experience, but I opted out of taking that, because I was pretty much surveyed out by that time.

I took a little over two hours to get through the entire experience. That included the practice at the beginning, the beta test itself, the review at the end, and the Microsoft comment period.

Overall, I felt fairly confident in about 80 percent of the questions I took. In a few cases I had to choose based on the process of elimination.

To prepare for the beta test, I went over the list of objectives. Also, locally, we formed a study group to review the list. Combining our efforts this way allowed us to tap others’ knowledge in filling in gaps in our own knowledge.

Now that my beta test experience is over, I’ll admit: The night before the exam, I was panicked. But I came to realize that I had studied all that I could and that I simply had to go in and do it. After all, the beta test is free, and it’s a good chance to experience the exam, whether or not I passed it.

As for me, I’m looking forward to hearing from Microsoft. Good luck with your own test-taking experience!

Ready to Learn More?

Want to know more about this new Project 2010 exam Read MPUG’s “Microsoft Project 2010 Certification FAQ.”

To learn about the Project 2010 certification, read MPUG’s “How to Get Certified in Microsoft Project 2010.”