Let me start this by saying I have been taking Microsoft Certification Exams since NT 4.0 and have seen them evolve over the years. I am happy to say that I sat the Pilot exam 70-113 today and was extremely happy about the Performance Based section of the exam. I wont go into any of the questions so I dont break NDA, but I will talk about how it works and how it feels.
When you get into the Performance Based section of the test it feels just like the virtual labs that Microsoft uses to teach certain things. You can see them at this address: Microsoft Virtual Labs. You basically connect up to a virtual lab that can have either one or multiple computers setup in whichever way fits for the question. You are given an overview of the environment with any relevant information given that could affect how you complete tasks.
You then click through to the tasks view and there is a list of things that need to be done, that are both standard admin tasks, and some more esoteric ones that some administrators may never do. The coolest part is that you can get them done in anyway you want, it is just the end result that matters. You can also do the list in any order that you want, but you are under a time constraint for just the lab based portion that is smaller than the overall total test time.
Some of the negatives I found was that the latency was a little brutal when trying to do some things. This could of course just be the testing center that I am at. It can cause some missed clicks and some jerky movements. The other major issues I found was the testing center had a smaller monitor and with the virtual machine I was looking for more screen real estate to be able to see the desktop AND the tasks easily without having to move windows around too much. Both of those negatives though can vary by testing center so I can’t really fault Microsoft for that.
The biggest complaint I have? That the Performance Based testing will not be implemented on the exam I am taking in two weeks, I can only hope the pilot goes well and I will be able to take future exams with this method.
One more thing, I know it was a pilot that I was taking but I wish I had gotten my score even if it didn’t count as I still have to take that exam at a later date and it would be nice to know how I was doing in my studying.