Passed the MSCD Exam 70-483 Programming in C#!!!

Update: I understand this article is not too specific, however that is to make sure I do not break Microsoft’s rules on discussing exam specifics. Breaking these rules can result in a lifetime ban from Microsoft’s tests and revocation of certifications. I discuss the tools I used and discuss what would have helped me without discussing details.

I’ve taken my first step towards the MCSD certification… I passed Exam 70-483 Programming in C# this past week. This was an interesting step as I haven’t written a computer exam since my Masters degree at the University of Alberta. But I did it to solidify some C# concepts, as well as learn some new things that I hadn’t needed to use yet.

The test itself was fairly comprehensive. I utilized 2 books for my studies:

There were questions on the exam that were not covered in either of these books. Thus one should do additional study to be fully prepared for the test, but these 2 books definitely helped me to pass the exam. I liked the organization of the MCSD Certification Toolkit book a bit better as the Exam Ref book is organized by the specified Exam Sections, but that was mostly personal preference.  I also really wanted to see more practice questions in both books, as well as more question that required you to read code more which would prepare you much better for the exam.

There are additional books of a more generic nature that I definitely recommend:

C# 5.0 In A Nutshell is my go-to book for all things C# related. It has a comprehensive list of C#’s features and very good descriptions. I highly recommend it for all C# developers. CLR Via C# offers a “deep dive” in many parts of the CLR. This book will give you a much deeper understanding of the CLR and C# and is definitely recommended if you are looking to become an expert in C#. Pro C# 5.0 and the .Net Framework is another great reference book for C#, but also touches on some of the other .Net components like WPF, WCF, and WF libraries. Finally, Microsoft Visual C# 2013 Step by Step is a great book for newer programmers looking for a “Step by Step” approach to C#.

In addition to the books, I went through the course “Programming in C# Jump Start” on Microsoft Virtual Academy. These were a great set of videos and I definitely recommend them. The presenters, Jerry Nixon and Daren May, were very knowledgeable and very fun to watch, which is rare for any kind of computer programming related video. But again, the videos alone were not really enough to prepare you for the exam. I really wish they had done more videos because I really liked the way they presented, and I definitely would have been willing to pay money for those videos if they had them.

I came across this blog post by Jack Kinsella on how he uses a flashcard app called Anki to master programming languages. So I decide to utilize the above 2 books to create an Anki set of flashcards which I then studied on a daily basis on my computer and my iPad. I found the spaced repetition to actually work quite well, although it took some adjustment to use this for learning technical details that require a lot of code.

For example, one of the technical skills you are supposed to know is how to generate code at runtime using CodeDOM. This is a huge topic which is only discussed briefly in both books. So I just created a flashcard to touch on the high-level parts of CodeDom, and then included code in the answer section so I could review the relevant code with the question. However, this didn’t really lead to a solid understanding of the particular skill.

Regardless, it was great to be able to review questions on the whole test. I posted my Anki flashcard set publically so you can download it on Anki’s website here (Update Feb 26, 2017: I’ve reorganized my Anki decks and the test-specific deck is no longer available. I still strongly suggest that creating your own Anki deck is the best way to learn and remember the needed information for this exam.) Requires account to download). However, it can be very helpful to create your own flashcard deck to make sure you focus on the areas that you need. But you can use that set as a template, or just it as your study set and make adjustments to it as you need.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I took the test, but one thing that stood out to me was that there was a large amount of code for each question. This meant the questions took longer as I had to read through and understand the code. Thus I would have focused more on code in my studies that I actually did.

But regardless, I have passed and thus have my Microsoft Specialist certification and have started studying for Exam 70-484 Essentials of Developing Windows Store Apps Using C#. 2 more to go!


35 responses to “Passed the MSCD Exam 70-483 Programming in C#!!!

  1. Hi Shane,

    I just learned from your Tumblr Blog that you recently passed the MCSD 70-483 exam. Congratulations on this!

    I am Smith from CertificationsTalk Forum and I want to conduct and publish a small but very valuable interview of yours, on our forum.

    I strongly believe that your success story will inspire many others.

    Actually we have recently planned this [Success Stories] series for our forum and we aim to inspire and guide our community via these.

    I hope you will not mind this and also this will be your chance to become a thought leader in our community as well.

    Waiting for your reply..

  2. My compliment for you good result. I’d like to take this certification me too.
    Thank you for your advise I bought both the books.

  3. Hai shane..First of all congrats for clearing the exam.I am now considering myself lucky to see your blog and your post at the right time as i am also taking my c# certification 70-483 exam this month or December .So,I would like to request you to guide me as from this moment onwards,i am seeing you as my teacher and kindly send me your experience of writing this exam and clearing it.Kindly tell me the exam format and if possible the questions also.I would be really greatful to you.Hoping for a positive reply from you my friend…..Kindy please send me the details…my id is….thanks in advance….

  4. Congratulation Shane!
    It would be great if you can provide a direct link to the Anki’s deck.
    I couldn’t find it. Thanks!

    • I put the link in the article now. You do need to log in to Anki’s web site in order to access the deck though.

      Also, their search functionality seems a little off. I did a search for “mcsd” but nothing came up. Maybe because the title was “MCSD”… you would think they should be able to differentiate with case in the deck titles….

  5. Hi, In the exam, other than objective questions, do we have to write code as well? (The MSCD toolkit book talks about real-world-case scenario. Does this mean we have write the C# code to solve those scenarios?) Kindly reply. Regards, Hemant ( [Hoping this question does not break Microsoft NDA rules in anyway. Its a basic quesion on format.)

    • No…. you don’t have to write code. But you need to be able to read code, and answer various questions about it including:
      -Which part of the code is incorrect?
      -Select the right code part out of multiple choices
      -Take several sections of code and select the right ones and put them in the right order.
      You will also likely get several case studies which will provide you with existing code and requirements and you will have questions on how to add features based on the requirements. But no creating code from scratch.

  6. Pingback: @ShaneBrewer·

  7. Hi Shane,

    I recently give 70-483 and i relied heavily on dump questions and whatever that i learned during my 1 year professional experience. However i manage to get 480 in exam which didnt come as a surprise as i was clueless for half of the exam.

    I am preparing again and i have been following the Exam-ref book. Do you recommend me to go through toolkit book as well ? Because i want to keep my focus exactly to what i need to pass the exam.

    • I haven’t finished the certification yet… My last exam is scheduled for Feb 28th, so if I pass, it would be about 6 months. But it could easily take longer or shorter depending on your programming experience.

  8. Hi Shane,
    I have my 70-783 exam on Wednesday. I have scheduled the exam last Friday and don’t have much time 🙂 This blog was helpful. I will spend time looking at demos and details tomorrow. Apparently I didn’t give myself enough time to prepare. Let’s see..By the way I live in Edmonton.

  9. Hi Shane,
    Congratulations! I wanna know if Threading is including in the exam 70-483. One the books tells it is not required.

  10. Hi Shane,

    Congratulations on clearing the 70-483. I had scheduled it in a month and started my preparation with the two reference books, which you mentioned. Could you please suggest me a few tips and topics to take care off and focus more.

  11. Hi Shane,

    I just wanted to let you know that I read your post a couple a months ago while I was reading one of the books you referred and to be honest I wasn’t feeling confident enough.

    So after reading you post, I downloaded Anki and import your flashcard set.

    off course I had to add more cards, probably not following the same style you were following.

    But the think is that today I passed the 70-483 exam and I have to say that it is in part because of the Anki way of studying and therefore because I found this post.

    Thank you!

  12. Thank you for sharing your experience and ANKI study cards. I’m studying the books your mentioned but still feel woefully unprepared. The book examples frequently reference methods, etc. without describing them, so I end up spending (wasting?) hours sidetracked on MSDN. There’s just too much to know *everything*, so am hoping the test material doesn’t stray too far from what is covered in the books.

    Thanks again.

    • Hi Rich. I found that the exam didn’t deviate from the material in the books too much, but there were a few questions I had no idea what the answer was because they weren’t covered. But the books should give you enough of a base to pass the exams.

      There is a lot of material to cover… that’s for sure. Because the exams have so much code in them, I think it is best to invest the time looking at the code and even implementing the ideas in a program. But it also depends on how you learn best. Try to think about when you’ve learnt things the fastest and then try that method here.

      Good luck!

  13. Congratulation Shane,
    Have you got any individual certificate for clearing the Exam 70-483 , or would Microsoft only give certificate (like MCSD, or individual exam clearance certificate) after passing those remaining 484 and 485 exams ??

  14. Good! Now you can go after the Windows Store Apps certification. *or* the Web Developer. *or* the… MCSA in SQL Server 2012. (Yes, this exam covers three certifications, and avoids the need for that HTML5 test, or that SSIS test.)

  15. Pingback: Way To MCSD : How I Cleared 70-483?·

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