CIW Javascript Specialist Certification

Last year I got my MCTS EXAM 70-433: Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Database Development certification and wrote about my experience.    To recap, while I doubt that there is much intrinsic value in the certificate itself, the extrinsic value of setting a goal (improving my TSQL skills) and having a test with which I could objectively measure progress was valuable.    It also happened to be one of my annual SMART objectives, which is one of those corporate self development programs.   You know, the kind of stuff that HR comes up with in order to justify their continued existence:   It’s got a clever acronym (what exactly it stands for escapes me at the moment) and tied to your annual performance review too.

This year, for lack of a better imagination, my SMART objective this year was to get a Javascript certification:  In addition to having done a lot of front end development this year, I had also just finished reading all 800+ pages of Professional Javascript for Web Developers.   I searched around online for certifications and was surprised to see that there really weren’t any.     W3C schools has a Javascript certification, but its a self proctored online exam, which means that it’d be of dubious validity at best.   I finally found a CIW Javascript Specialist certification that was administered by Prometric.

I immediately encountered some red flags.    The CIW website has a maximum password length on its account creation page, which I found to be hilarious.     The study guide for the exam assumed that the user had little to no prior programming experience, and seemed to hold your hand every step of the way.    I skimmed a few chapters and decided it wasn’t worth my time.    Much to my disappointment, the actual test proved to be almost comically easy.     I had done all the practice exams the night before, and that had proven to be more than sufficient.    Most of the exam questions were taken almost verbatim from the questions on the practice tests, which weren’t very difficult in the first place.

The questions that tested knowledge of general programming constructs such as if statements and for loops were predictably straightforward.       I rolled my eyes at the multiple choice syntax questions.   These were freebies.  “Spot the valid function declaration” and “which one of these is a valid variable name?” were my favorites.    There weren’t really any questions that dealt with advanced Javascript language features:  I encountered one question about prototypical inheritance.    Probably the most “difficult” part of the exam were the Javascript API questions.   These required a lot of rote memorization.    For example, normally I wouldn’t know the difference between the substr and substring functions and would need to rely on google to find out.      However, after spending a few hours going over the practice problems, they became a non issue on exam day.

The FAQ on the CIW website indicates that the exam was recently updated to reflect major third party APIs such as JQuery.     Well turns out there aren’t actually any questions about JQuery on the exam.   Rather, they threw in some generic questions about how to include JQuery in your web application, as well as some questions about the pros and cons of using third party Javascript libraries.

If the my MCTS EXAM 70-433: Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Database Development  is geared toward those with intermediate to advanced expertise with SQL Server, then the CIW Javascript Specialist certification is geared toward absolute beginners.  Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of Javascript will be able to pass it.      Even those without Javascript knowledge but who have done nay programming would probably be able to go through the practice exams the night before and pass.   I wouldn’t recommend getting this certification if you have to pay for it out of your own pocket, but if you can convince your company to foot the bill, then go for it.   It’s a “low hanging fruit”, won’t take long, and can’t hurt.

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