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How To Achieve A Perfect Score

March 3, 2014

You took the Windows for Workgroups test today didn’t you?


How did you do.

I passed and I missed a perfect score by one question. I got a 67.8% and passing was a 62.8%.

When I first joined Microsoft back in the 1994 I knew a ton about WordPerfect Office email, a lot about various industry email standards like MHS, and almost nothing about Microsoft products. However, as support engineers we were expected to complete the training for the new Microsoft Certified System Engineer (MCSE) requirement.

Getting the MCSE certification would not help us do our jobs better. However, it would hopefully make customers trust our support teams a little more. And it wouldn’t hurt that it would boost the worldwide numbers for the fledgling certification.

Novell Certified Network Engineer (CNE) was the premier network certification at the time. Microsoft was working very hard to catch up, not just in certified engineers. They also wanted to be viewed as a viable networking company. Everyone in the world ran Novell Netware, or so it appeared. Microsoft was known for Windows and programming languages.

The MCSE certification was simply one way Microsoft was attempting to change the world’s perception.

The problem was that as support engineers, we had a very narrow focus. I knew Microsoft Mail, but I didn’t really have a clue about some of the network courses. The guys supporting Windows OS didn’t know about email or network routing. It was very frustrating, and often demoralizing for us to take tests on a topic we didn’t really understand and as a result fail the exams over and over and over.

We could retake the exams as many times as we wanted. But, if you don’t know the answers the first time, you often don’t do any better taking it multiple times. Management didn’t really have an interest in sending us off to be trained on a technology that wouldn’t necessarily help us do our job, but was only designed to help us pass the tests.

As a result the engineers came up with our own training curriculum. As engineers we started pooling our knowledge. I helped people understand MS Mail, they helped me understand networks. And we started to track how we did on the various certification tests.

And it started to have an effect. I remember one woman who failed the same exam 7 times in a row. When we finally started working as a group, she could better identify her weak areas and target her learning. She passed the next time she took it.

But, at the beginning of this story I said that 62.8% was a perfect score and I got a 67.8% and yet I “missed a perfect score by one question.”

Since we were taking tests that didn’t really aid our job, any time we spent studying for them was time taken away from our job, or more likely time taken away from our family. There was no benefit to getting a higher score. All the tests were pass/fail.


A perfect score meant that you scored an exact passing score; you studied just enough. You didn’t study too little. You didn’t study too much. Perfect. You were much more admired by other support engineers for achieving a “perfect” score than you were for achieving 100% on an exam.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant, a Certified Windows for Workgroups 3.11 professional. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children.

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