Friday, July 23, 2010

Effect of the SCEA study guide on the exam

The SCEA study guide book - especially chapter nine - is already having an effect on the exam. And that effect is interesting, mostly positive but with some negatives as well.

In general, it is fair to say that the overall standard of submissions has improved, and a lot of submissions clearly contain cues from chapter nine of the book - naming conventions, diagram layout, adoption of the server A and B spec approach for the deployment diagram - it's all there in a lot of submissions.

The book has made some of the submissions more anodyne / bland / standardized, which in turn makes me a little sentimental for the past. There's nothing like trying to traverse a crazy class diagram late at night for keeping your brain sharp!

In my opinion, a small but not insignificant percentage of candidates (a bit less than 10%) actually end up submitting a **worse** assignment under the influence of the book, and for a very interesting reason. If you buy the book and read it and aren't an architect, then you will have an incomplete understanding of the concepts covered within it. By extension, when you apply the book material to your submission, there is a very good chance that you will make mistakes that are pretty glaring. So the book will make your submission worse, not better.

As a corollary, if you buy the book and really get the material, your application of that new-found material on top of your already substantial knowledge and skills will result in a strong submission.

In summary then, the book is not a magic book.

The interesting medium / long-term question is whether or not the exam should always have a pass rate of X% and a fail rate of Y% or if it is acceptable to have X approach 100% as a result of the book (that's not happening but clearly it could).