A Review of Citrix Exam 223 (Presenation Server 3) and How it Maps to Real-World Experience

I have undertaken a Citrix Metaframe Presentation Server 3 rollout consisting of three servers, a separate licence server, Thin Print, AppSense, and Citrix Secure Gateway. This was a small project that lasted just over a week.

I have undertaken a Citrix Metaframe Presentation Server 3 rollout consisting of three servers, a separate licence server, Thin Print, AppSense, and Citrix Secure Gateway. This was a small project that lasted just over a week. Based on this and my feelings on having taken the Citrix Beta Exam for Presentation Server 3, I will try to provide some insight into how the exam actually relates to real life hands-on Experience.

I've been working with Citrix Products since 1998 and I have been instructing Citrix courses since late 1999. As part of my preparation for this exam, I had access to the courseware for the new 5 day CTX-1223 course and the PDF files from the product CDs.

I have noticed that Citrix has been changing the exam style and questions over the last year. When I first started pursuing the Citrix certification track, the exams were in need of more work prior to being released. They also didn't test your knowledge of anything outside the scope of the courseware manuals. This was both a blessing and a curse--the exams took about 2 days of memorizing the courseware manual to prepare for and you didn't even have to have ever used the product to take the exam and score well. For those of us who were pressed for time this was a godsend, since it meant we didn't need to dedicate a great deal of time to our exam preparation.

The downside of this is that it was (and still is but to a lesser degree) possible to take and pass the exams without having real experience. This made for a number (which I will not speculate) of "paper" Citrix Certified people.

When Citrix first advertized that they were going to make the new exams 60% from the manual and 40% hands-on and from other white papers, I was (to say the least) a bit skeptical. I assumed that due to my hands-on experience and that since I had been teaching Citrix for awhile it would still be very easy. My experience with this attitude was, let's say, "expensive." I tried the approach of studying the notes for a couple of days (although with not too much dedication) and then taking the exam. This proved to be an expensive way to test Citrix's resolve, and I lost.

Whle preparing for this exam, I had the opportunity to get some hands on experience and also spent two weeks pouring over all the documentation that I could to try to make it worthwhile. I ended up taking the beta exam for the product. While I won't give you any questions or answers, I'll give you my impression of how hard and how relevant the exam was.

The beta exam (which has now expired) had a large number of questions about the new features of the Presentation Server 3 product. I would say the exam is fair, but if only you have taken the time to get to know and use all of the features. When studying for it, ensure that you've installed the product and the licensing server and that you've played with all the options (even those that have been around for awhile and have only changed a little bit).

I would suggest that even experienced Citrix admins who've been working with Metaframefor several years should not write off this exam as another easy one and plan to take it only after having read the manual once or twice. In this case, Citrix has done a good job of making sure that the exam is achievable but not impossible, and they give those who look outside the courseware to some practical exposure a real chance of passing.

The certification game will not be perfect until it's all performance-based. What makes this difficult is the cost. Until you can prove that you can actually use the product you're being tested on, this 223 exam is better than previous exams. Good luck, study hard, and use the product and you will do fine.


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This message was originally posted by an anonymous visitor on August 20, 2004
very well written and gets to the seat of the matter
This message was originally posted by Jonathan Merrill on August 31, 2004
Not sure why everyone loves the idea of performance exams versus the standard academic-style of exam, especially since Citrix is trying to increase their certification numbers. I for one feel that performance exams may help those who are right-brained (visual learning & rememberance), but for those who are left-brained (reading & comprehension), the test will be cumbersome and more failures are likely.

And what exactly is the CCA certification trying to achieve anyways?

"CCAs are skilled industry professionals that have demonstrated basic administrator-level expertise on Citrix MetaFrame Presentation Server, with a general understanding of the other products in the Citrix MetaFrame Access Suite"

My issue with the current state of exams is Citrix really is pushing the definition of "basic administrator-level expertise". Intentionally throwing in registry edits, resource allocation (XPe), and more advanced topics like Citrix Secure Gateway configurations doesn't lend to the idea that CCA is indeed a basic-level certification.

I personally feel making the test harder and harder somehow benefits the overall CCA community, with the spectre of performance-based exams one day, doesn't achieve the goals which are outlined and will inevitably turn new IT people away from Citrix.

Citrix should step very carefully in how it presents itself in lieu of competition and Bear Paw. Now is not the time to rock the boat!

Jonathan Merrill