A Brief Guide on How to Pass the 70-480 Certification Exam

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A couple of weeks I did my first certification exam ever and I passed! Wihoo! I thought that you who are planning on taking this or any other certification exam could maybe find my experience of value and thus here we are. :)

I approached the whole exam thing mainly as an excuse to learn and refresh my knowledge in web development, starting from the very basics to the more advanced APIs that I hadn’t had the chance to look into, trying to fill in all the gaps that I felt I have had in my web dev knowledge in the past. So this is not going to be an article on how to pass the exam with the least amount of effort possible, no tricks or shortcuts, it is just going to be an article about how I went about preparing for the exam, just plain old studying, practicing, coding, learning and writing a freaking exam XD.

Step 1. Finding Out What Goes Into the Exam

You can get a pretty nice idea of what goes into the exam from the exam certification page and by reading the Exam Reference Book. In summary:

  • Implement and manipulate document structures and objects (24%)
  • Implement program flow (25%)
  • Access and secure data (26%)
  • Use CSS3 in applications (25%

which basically means:

  • HTML, CSS3, JavaScript (ES5)
  • HTML5 web apis: DOM, web workers, web sockets, geolocation, app cache, local storage, session storage, canvas, svg
  • XMLHttpRequest and Ajax
  • Basic CSS Layout, Flexbox, Grid, CSS Regions
  • Transitions, Transforms and Animations
  • jQuery

Step 2. Preparing the Exam

First things first, I recommend you to experiment with HTML, JavaScript, CSS and the very many HTML5 Web APIs using a tool like jsFiddle ( or CodePen, JSBin or Plunkr) where you can interactively write code, try things out and get feedback about what you are doing immediately. There’s no better way of learning software development stuff than to actually write code and experiment yourself and all of these tools make that dead easy.

These are some excellent resources I used to learn about the different topics within the exam:

Overview Material

Again, I like reading, so I started with the Exam Reference Book for The 70-480 to get an overview of everything that went into the exam, and I also looked at the Developing in HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS3 course at the Microsoft Virtual Academy (awesome and extensive number of free resources Microsoft has gathered there btw).

After getting the whole picture and a pretty good idea of what would go into the exam I started getting into specifics, testing stuff, taking notes on my wiki, experimenting with jsFiddle and writing a couple of “more advanced” examples.

Specific APIs

Here are some of the resources that I used, and some of the live examples that I wrote in no particular order:

HTML5 Web APIs

LocalStorage and SessionStorage

LocalStorage and SessionStorage are two new web apis that allow you to store information for your web applications locally in your user’s browser.

Geolocation

The new geolocation api lets you to tap into a user’s location from the browser and even get updates whenever a user moves from one place to another.

AppCache

The Application Cache api gives you all the tools you need to create pure offline experiences for your web applications.

Canvas

A new API to do low level drawing in the browser with JavaScript.

SVG

Scalable Vector Graphics support for the browser. Great for the many-devices-reality we live in today.

Web Sockets

A sockets API for the web. We are no longer limited to using HTTP in our web applications.

Web Workers

Multithreading in the browser, perform computing or I/O expensive tasks in the browser without affecting the UI thread and the User Experience of your web applications.

HTML5 Media Controls

Play Audio and Video natively in the web.

HTML5 Semantic Elements

Improved semantic elements for modern web applications.

HTML5 Forms

Better forms for modern web applications.

The DOM (Document Object Model)

JavaScript

In order to pass the exam you need to know some JavaScript basics:

  • Basic flow structures
  • Prototypical inheritance and OOP
  • Closures and scope in JavaScript
  • Exception Handling
  • Regular Expressions
  • Asynchronous programming, callbacks and promises

You can read any beginner’s level JavaScript book and that would be enough to pass the exam. My personal favorite is Eloquent JavaScript.

XMLHttpRequest and Ajax

The most traditional API used to perform HTTP requests from the browser to the server.

CSS3

CSS Selectors
CSS Layout

The basics of CSS Layout, the box model, display, position, etc.

CSS Flexbox

A great API for creating flexible layouts that adapt to multiple devices.

CSS Media Queries

The most foundational api to do responsive web design.

CSS Grid

A native grid layout for the web.

CSS Multicolumn layout

Native multicolumn layout for the web.

CSS Regions

An interesting API to separate semantic HTML from structural HTML.

CSS Transitions, Transforms and Animations

APIs for animating the web.

jQuery

If you haven’t been in contact with jQuery before, you can get a nice overview at the Microsoft Virtual Academy with the Introduction to jQuery course. Otherwise, you can get a quick refresher from the jQuery learning portal and focus on:

  • DOM traversing and manipulation
  • Handling DOM events
  • Ajax and Forms

Step 3. Getting Comfortable with the Exam Experience

Once you grok these topics you can, optionally, get a feeling for how the exam experience will be like by doing some practice exams. There a series of companies that specialize in offering this kind of service for different certifications and, in my case, I used MeasureUp which I found recommended at the certification page. For around 60 Euro you get a month to make as many practice exams as you want and get comfy with the environment in which you’ll do the exam. It is not strictly necessary but it is nice if you like to be prepared XD.

Step 4. Signing up, Doing the Exam and Kicking Ass

I signed up for the exam at a local exam provider but you can also do it via the certification page, just click on Schedule The Exam and follow the instructions. When the time comes, relax, breathe, trust yourself and kick ass.

A Sidenote About the Online Proctored Exam

Before I went for the local test center option I tried the online proctored exam, which is to say, the possibility to do the exam from the comfort of my home. It didn’t work at all for me even though I tried with two different web cams on two different PCs. My recommendation is that, if you want to do it this way, be very thorough with the test software that they will provide to test your system, and if you have any doubts don’t even bother since they are very strict during the admission to the exam.

Step 5. Profit

Once you pass the exam, you’ll get an email from Microsoft with how you can make the most out of your certification. Enjoy your Victory! XD

And that’s all! If you are planning to take the exam soon, good luck and godspeed! :)

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