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Hypothesis: SCEA5 far more difficult than older SCEA.

 
Jeff Walker
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I'd like to pose the following hypotheses:

1. That the SCEA5 Part I, is dramatically more difficult than the old SCEA part I exam.
2. That consequently, the assignment can be expected to be marked at a higher competency level, too.
3. The essay questions as well?

I propose the above not from my own personal experience, but on a shabby, half-hearted subjective statistical observation that a few months ago many people were scoring in the high 80s and 90s, and now, most people are scoring down in the 60s. I very much doubt the people taking the exam now are any different in skill level than their compatriots from a few months ago, at least, on average.

Opinions anyone?
-jeff

(Congrats to all who passed, both the old and new exams, and obviously a few months ago the candidates were taking the older SCEA exam).
 
Theodore Casser
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I'm not myself convinced that the new Part I is substantially harder, but perhaps that the topics covered by the new Part I are less familiar to the audience sitting for the exam now. The old exam was in the marketplace for quite a while, allowing for greater familiarity, and greater availability of study materials, while this new exam depends on the candidate's determination to gain that familiarity without prepared study guides.

That said, I think Part II/III is definitely harder - the grading is more specific, the essay exams are actually now counted for an overt portion of the grade, and I get the impression that the graders are looking more in depth at the quality of the answer to the assignment. This might also just be a bias of perception, given that it is closer to me - timewise - than my passing the original SCEA 3 years ago.
 
Jimmy Clark
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The new SCEA Part I exam is more difficult than the original because of a few reasons. I will mention them below. Take note that the audience has changed. The original exam was designed for and targeted individuals with 10 or more years in software engineering. The new version is designed for individuals with at least five years experience in software development.

Software architectural concepts have not changed. Performance, security, clustering, extensibility still mean the same thing. Capacity planning and other concepts have not changed. What has changed are there are new programming APIs and paradigms. However, this was not the focus of the original SCEA exam, because architects are rarely coding on a day-to-day basis and are typically a bit older than the younger whipper-snappers fresh out of college.

So, the target audience of the SCEA is off a bit and what you end up with are programmers that have fresh knowledge of programming API, e.g. JSF, and those that recenlty passed the web/business component exams will easily get the SCEA certification. Ask them to design a large object-oriented system with UML to send offshore for programming and you may have a problem

The second reason why I feel the exam is tougher, is because the questions are poorly written with ambiguous answers and stemming from a shallow perspective on the technologies. In my recent review, someone replied with a very profound statement. What they said, basically, was that anyone with wide, deep knowledge of the technologies will be able to see more possible answers that would be considered correct. The instructional designers that create the exams that do not have deep understanding and experience do not know that the answers they think are incorrect can be correct answers in certain scenarios. Oh well.

We will possibly end up with more "architects" that can write servlets and JSF-based components, but design brittle and fragile enterprise architectures. Smart senior management must gain great understanding of strategic human captial management in regards to hiring at the architectural level and depend less upon these "certifications."
[ May 20, 2008: Message edited by: James Clark ]
 
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