Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Would you pass?

Sun have made some free pre-assessment tests available.

Just for fun, I went through the UNIX Essentials one. Would I pass? (Given that I have never had any formal training and have a rather eclectic skills mix it's not a foregone conclusion.)

According to the test, yes. I got a whopping 37/42 which is clearly enough to pass.

I suspect, though, that this says more about the accuracy (and grammatical validity, in one case) of the questions. One of the questions was incapable of being parsed into english, and I had to guess at random. Another one had two possible correct answers depending on factors you weren't told about. Another one had no correct answer on a vanilla Solaris system. There were a couple of questions that I looked at and thought to myself 'you wouldn't ever do it like that'.

(Plus a couple of questions on stuff that I would never use under any circumstances. I had a similar test when I applied for my current job, and my answer to every question mentioning vi was ':q' and use a proper editor.)

I tried the SCSA sample tests - scoring a little better on the part I test, and slightly lower on the part II. But again, there were questions that were simply wrong; some where the correct answer would always be 'look it up in the man page'; some artificially contrived questions; and I'm more than a little concerned about the coverage and subject matter. And on the SCSA tests there are a couple of areas where I haven't done much for a few years now (my OBP and LDAP skills are obviously getting a little rusty).


Paul Smart said...

I am a trainer for Sun. I have had a quick look at one of the tests and agree there are some bad questions there. I'll do my best to get the questions changed. If you could let me know which ones you thought were wrong, I'll make sure I include them.

Mike Gerdts said...

When the Solaris 10 SCSA exam was in beta, I took part 1. I didn't take it because I cared whether I was certified or not - I took it to assess how much I valued it as a qualification. My impression was that it tested your ability to take (and possibly study for) a test - not whether you actually understood Solaris.

Sun could greatly improve the Solaris certification by modeling after the Red Hat certification, as it tests your ability to troubleshoot and use the OS to implement relevant installations.

Nicholas said...

Wow, that's rather a bad advertisement for Sun training. The intro assessment had many questions years out of date, has bad grammar, are incomprehensible or flat out wrong. At least the SCSA one seemed to be up to date with Solaris 10 in places, but a lot of the questions seemed more about trivia such as various scattered file paths I've never needed to look at, such as SMF and dump internals.

One had an unescaped HTML entity in it, and one recommended a command that didn't even work on a system where I tried it (patchadd -p just gives me "No patches installed" whereas showrev -p actually works!).

And one question assumed a local nameservice, followed by the next question assuming NIS/NIS+... uh, yeah.

Peter Tribble said...

Paul: I can't remember specifics (and, unfortunately, the assessment doesn't seem to let you look at the questions again once you're done). But anything that improves the quality of the questions would be good; I'm sure the OpenSolaris sysadmin community would be happy to help. (And feel free to contact me directly.)