Exam 70-486 (Developing ASP.NET MVC Web Applications) Done!

I’m gonna be honest, for me, I felt that this was the hardest Microsoft exam I’ve taken to date (my fifth Microsoft exam at the time writing this) and this reasoning was purely down to outdated studying materials, guidance and support offered by Microsoft. With the release of ASP .NET Core just over two years ago, Microsoft seem to have taken a step back from ASP.NET MVC and maybe accepted that they made mistakes with it’s heavy pipeline and look to be focusing all efforts into Core. It’s understandable and I have no remorse for this new path and vision, I just wish they didn’t interweave the two frameworks into the same exam. Although they both share similarities in the way they utilise MVC, Razor, Entity Framework, OWIN (loosely) etc… they have huge differences in there processing pipelines which ultimately means studying hard for one framework and ignoring the other is sure way to fail. After a couple of days of attempting to plan my study time using official resources, I decided to scour the internet looking for any advice from people which have legitimately passed the exam and trying to understand their thoughts and study aids in hopes to helping me prepare to part with another £130.00 green queens!

I’ve put together below all the study materials I primarily used to pass the 70-486 exam along with some form of review on how I found them. Keep in mind that Microsoft advise that you should have at least 3-5 years of working knowledge with ASP.NET MVC, so with that being said, a word of warning that the study materials below are not for someone who is brand new to ASP.NET.

Exam Ref 70-486: Developing ASP.NET MVC 4 Web Applications 1st Edition

Now I know what your thinking (and why wouldn’t you!), this book was wrote in 2013, why the hell would this book be useful five years after publish date. Well the only reason why I gave it go is because I’m still referencing (*cough* reading) the GOF book so why not 😛 Jokes aside, it’s actually not that bad. Obviously you will need to ignore any text explaining Azure as that platform pretty much changes hourly, but apart from that, it’s okay and covers a lot of the necessity’s that have not really changed much over the years. My only advise would be to make sure you understand what’s changed from MVC 4 to MVC 5 so with that being said, it might be worth reading this book first and then topping up with an MVC 5 refresher course on Pluralsight.

ASP.NET MVC 5 Fundamentals by Scott Allen

For those people who haven’t used or heard of Pluralsight, Pluralsight in a nutshell is a subscription based service which gives you access to a huge catalogue of video courses. The difference between Pluralsight and other similar services like Lynda, Udemy etc… is the quality of the material. Pluralsight prides itself in keeping it’s course material fresh along with creating/updating courses to fall in line with latest technologies and frameworks. I’m a huge fan of Scott Allen and have been since I got into C# some years ago. The way he delivers his courses are detailed but to the point and I’ve never known him go on some tangent in hopes to be funny. For me, this methodology works well.

Professional ASP.NET MVC 5 by Jon Galloway, Brad Wilson, K. Scott Allen, David Matson

Great book and would highly recommend to anyone who wants gain a better understanding of ASP.NET MVC 5 let alone the 70-486 exam. I read this whilst working through the fundamentals course above (obviously not at the same time…can you imagine!). I will admit that I did find it to be a little a bit of slow starter but I think that may of been down to the first couple of chapters covering high level pipeline concepts which I was already very familiar with.

The MVC Request Life Cycle by Alex Wolf

This was great short course going over how each element in MVC pipeline is processed during a request. I found that this course solidified what already knew about MVC as well it justifying why it works this way. For example, Http Handlers and Http Modules always confused me as to which came first during processing and also why the two were needed in the first place. This course removed all confusion and I would recommend this course to anyone learning MVC 5.

ASP.NET Core Fundamentals by Scott Allen

I’ll admit that I took this course last year to understand how much has changed by moving to core in preparation for a project. It’s a great jam packed course covering pretty much everything that could potentially come up on the exam for ASP.NET Core. So yeah…a course by a great teacher, not really much more to say.

ASP.NET Core: The MVC Request Life Cycle by Alex Wolf

Similar to other course mentioned, it covers the life cycle of ASP.NET Core as well as the major differences between the two frameworks. In my opinion, I think this is great course to leave until the end.

MeasureUp : Microsoft (70-486): Developing ASP.NET MVC Web Applications

Yes, it’s Microsoft’s official practice test which is managed by a third party. It’s not absolutely necessary to pay the bucks for this one, but for me it did help some and would probably use them again. As you guessed, none of the questions shown on this practice exam will be on the official test. All MeasureUp have done is go through Microsoft’s measured skills list and created their own questions. The questions do not contain anything about ASP.NET Core so it’s far from the best representation of the official exam but I still found it was best measurement out to highlight my weaknesses.

And that’s pretty much it! Well that and around 45x days (2x hours per day) of studying to top-up my existing knowledge was all it took. To conclude, I am glad I finally plucked the courage to go forth and complete this exam. The knowledge gained far outweighs the certificate’s value and I would recommend anyone looking to further their knowledge in ASP.NET MVC to give this certificate a go.

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