RentACoder has a unique concept, I think. Developers and coders sign up and bid for work. Lowest bidder gets it. They work with the customer to get required information, update status reports as the project goes on, and they get rated on how well they get the job done. Similarly, the person paying for the work will be rated by the person doing the work.
This way, businesses can find people with a good reputation to get the work done. To get reputation, people have to take on jobs they might not get involved with otherwise. Pretty neat.
What I didn’t like about the site, though, is their exams. If you specialize in certain things, you can use a partner site, ExpertRating, to take a 40-question test in 40 minutes. If you pass, it shows up on your RentACoder profile so people know you have above-average skills in the topic. It’s $25 for each test and is $10 if you want to retake the test within 2 days.
I took the SQL Server 2000 exam and only scored a 55%. Passing but appalling. It was well below what I was expecting. They ask some pretty archaic questions, so I’m not totally surprised, but I was definitely disappointed in the exam. I actually wrote to the exam people and complained about the relevancy and, in some cases, the accuracy of some of their questions.
I doubt I’ll be taking any more of their exams any time soon. At least not until they do more relevant questioning.
It frustrates me, though…. So many of their questions were things you get out of studying a book made to prep you for tests like this but never deal with in real life.
Example: One question relied on you knowing that you can only have a maximum of 1028 columns in a SQL Server table.
Chances are, though, if you know that useless 1028 column trivia, it’s because you (a) took tests like that rather than going out and actually DOING work on SQL or (b) you did the work but you are such a retard, you actually ran into that limitation. Either way, if a candidate I was interviewing knew that, I’d at least be suspicious.
In the real world, there’s no f’ing way a customer is going to (a) request or (b) pay for a table with 1028 columns… I had to look up the maximum columns on Google, which is fine, but most of the test is designed for stuff that you are supposed to just know rathing than stuff you’re going to look up. That’s why you only get a minute per question.
There were at least a few questions totally rigged, though… one used double-quotes instead of single-quotes for something… which totally changed their Select statements. Another question depended on the database using a non-default language setting, which was case-sensitive. That’s why I dislike those sorts of exams…. I end up struggling with what I know the answer to be versus what I’m supposed to choose for the test… At least with more informal testing that gets reviewed by someone, you can back up your answers a bit. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case with multiple choice questions.
The good news is that ExpertRating isn’t exactly some highly rated site in the real world. The bad news is, I basically got conned out of $25 for a worthless test. Ah, well. Live and learn, right?
[UPDATE: I got annoyed at having such a low score, so I paid $10 more just to retake the thing. Hey, even though I think the exam is complete inconsequential, I don’t want to have my good name sullied by some third-rate exam site. Anyhow, I got a 60% this time. The interesting part — aside from apparently unlearing some of the material I had gotten right the first time I took the test — was that now it shows me as being ahead of 40% of the other people who have taken the test. So now I’m just about at “mediocre” status, eh? Whatever. I’m not spending any more money on that site. For real this time.]