Tags: Beta Exams
Curious to know how the beta exam process works behind the scenes at Microsoft? Eager to get your hands on a free invite code to a pre-released exam? Liberty Munson has posted a two-part series over in Born To Learn that’s titled Everything You Wanted to Know about Beta Exams: Part 1 (Beta Invites) and Everything You Wanted to Know about Beta Exams: Part 2 (Beta Availability).
Although I recommend you read both posts, the take-away points are:
- Free seats are still available, but very limited.
- Your best shot at a free seat is to keep your SME (subject matter expert) profile current with Microsoft.
- Paid (not free) beta exams are available to anyone.
- Paid (not free) beta exams will now stay in the market until the final exam is live.
This last point is a substantial policy change on the beta front, as these exams were typically only available for a few weeks before vanishing in a puff of psychometric smoke. With the extended availability of beta tests, anyone who needs to prove competency in a brand-new technology will be able to do so without having to wait for the final exam to come to market.
Tags: Beta Exams
For the last several years, Microsoft beta exams have been available prior to an exam’s “official” release. Typically beta test vouchers were handed out to SMEs, posted on industry blogs, or distributed at conferences. Microsoft recently announced that they were changing their beta exam strategy and opening the playing field to everyone who wished to take a beta exam. (See the new official FAQ on beta tests here.)
As per the announcement, beta exams will be priced the same as regular exams and can be scheduled through Prometric’s website as soon as they are released. Beta exam numbers typically start with a 71-xxx instead of a 70-xxx. Currently, exams 70-410, 70-687, 70-480 are in beta; you can schedule them through Prometric using exam numbers 71-410, 71-687, and 71-480 (as of this writing).
For those of you scratching your heads and wondering what the point of a non-free beta exam would be, we’ve put together a few pros and cons of setting yourself ahead of the bell curve. (Please note that this information may be subject to change in the future as Microsoft rolls out new promotions or ends old ones.)
Here are some potential reasons why you might NOT want to take an exam in the beta stage:
- Delayed scoring. You don’t get your score after finishing a beta exam. You have to wait until the official non-beta exam release, generally a period of 8 to 12 weeks.
- Longer tests. If your time frame or attention span is limited, this might not be the best format. Some items may not be scored; some items may be a trial run of a new question format meant to gather real-life usage data.
- No retakes allowed. Microsoft isn’t currently running a Second Shot promotion, so there’s no word on whether Second Shot will apply to paid beta exams.
- You have to hit the ground running. Beta exams are bleeding edge. Have you had enough time to thoroughly learn the latest iteration of your software?
And, of course, some reasons why you WOULD want to take a beta exam:
- The opportunity to leave feedback. Beta tests have detailed comment fields at the end. Didn’t like the way a question was phrased? Thought the new live coding segment was great? Encountered a glitch? This is an unparalleled opportunity to provide direct feedback. Heck, even Microsoft’s own employees love the chance to leave exam feedback.
- Getting certified ahead of the pack. Getting that cloud-based certification now, as opposed to six months from now, might be the credentials edge that gets you a promotion, a teaching position, or a new career.
- Bragging rights. And blogging rights, and white paper authoring rights. Run with it (within NDA bounds, of course.)
Microsoft will still be releasing free exam beta codes to SMEs and other qualified individuals, though in smaller numbers than before, and you can still sit a “free” beta exam (as part of your overall conference fee) at trade shows, such as Microsoft TechEd Europe 2012. If you want the chance to receive a coveted invite-only beta exam code in the mail, Microsoft requires that you set up and maintain your SME profile here:
To keep abreast of beta exam announcements, follow Born To Learn or another industry-relevant blog:
Meanwhile, this change in strategy on Microsoft’s part will mean that seats for beta exams are essentially unlimited, so you no longer have to chase a seat down like it was a Rolling Stones concert ticket.
Tags: Beta Exams, MOS, PowerPoint
Certiport is seeking qualified individuals and test centers to participate in the MOS 2010 PowerPoint beta exam! The beta period is limited, currently scheduled for September 16th through September 28th, but the closing date to enroll in the beta program as a test candidate is Wednesday, September 8th and the closing date to enroll as a test center is Thursday, September 9th, so you have to act fast!
You don’t need to be a once and future master of PowerPoint Karaoke to participate. The requirements for test candidates are simple:
- Be a native English speaker, even if not living in an English-speaking country
- Have good familiarity with the 2007 PowerPoint application version
Certiport would prefer you also be familiar with PowerPoint 2010, although it’s not a strict requirement. Candidates who are familiar with 2010 features are very desirable for the program. Fortunately, you can download a beta version for a free trial from this link and make yourself eligible:
To enroll in the PowerPoint beta, you must contact one of the approved Certiport Testing Centers enrolled in the beta program:
|Name/Company||LOCATION||CITY||STATE/ PROVINCE||First Name||Last Name|
|Certiport Singapore Pte Ltd||SINGAPORE||Teck Seng||Nah|
|Lasalle Computer Learning Center||USA,||Tampa,||FL||Suzanne||Ricci|
|The Turn Around Agenda/Technology and Education Center||USA||Dallas||TX||Vonetta||Pelts|
|Idaho State University, College of Education||USA||Pocatello||ID||Brenda||Jacobsen|
|Penobscot Community Health Care||USA||Bangor||ME||Jennifer||McBee|
|Karen Todd Pickles CPI||USA||Madison||FL||Karen||Pickles|
|Lambton College (CCI)||CAN||Sarnia||ON||Kim||Hunt|
|CCI Learning Solutions Inc||CAN||Langley||BC||Daniel||Sweeney|
|Northwestern State University||USA||Natchitoches||LA||Mary Beth||Tarver|
|Welkin Systems Limited||Hong Kong||Kitty||Luk|
|MicroAge College Station||USA||College Station||TX||Richard||Carroll|
|The Training Foundry||UK||Sheffield||South Yorkshire||David||Rotherham|
|Advantage Caribbean Institute Ltd||WEST INDIES||Bentley||Beckles|
|ATG Testing Center||USA||Van Nuys||CA||Arman||Gasparyan|
|Maple Tronics Computers||USA||Goshen||IN||Gloria||Moser|
|Berry College-B.I.T.S.||USA||Mount Berry||GA||Daniel||O Sandberg|
|Micro Market Business Centre, (CCI)||CAN||Kingston||ON||Paola||Lockett|
|Latham & Watkins LLP||USA||Los Angeles||CA||Vivia||Weller|
|Qendra per Trajnim dhe Zhvillim e PTK-se||Republic of Kosovo||Prishtinë||Kosovo||Besnik||Skenderi|
|NR Computer Learning Center||USA||Orange||CA||Vazi||Okhandiar|
|In Demand Testing Account E||USA||New York||NY||Betty Lou||Herter|
|DreVon Software Training||USA||Jonesboro||GA||LeAndra||Jordan|
|Lytton High School||NZ||Gisborne||Maurice||Alfred|
|Time Saving Solutions, LLC||USA||Redmond||WA||Lynn||Landry|
|Zenos IT Academy||UK||Leeds||West Yorkshire||Zeshan||Sattar|
|Cherokee High School||USA||Canton||GA||Anna||Green|
|Salt Lake Community College-ACT||USA||Draper||UT||Joe||Fox|
|Dunbar High School||USA||Fort Myers||FL||Denise||Spence|
|Toronto Training Center For Information Technology and Business Accounting||CAN||Mississauga||ON||Mousa Abdallah||Hamdan|
|Lynn Testing Center||USA||Boca Raton||FL||Tammy||Swett|
|Global Information Technology||USA||Lathrup Village||MI||Paula||Artis|
If your favorite Testing Center isn’t on the list or you believe your test center can participate, there is still time to enroll by contacting Certiport directly. There are are few tidbits of information required from test centers; including: a single-point-of-contact, availability of the test center for the duration of the beta period, Certiport ID#, etc., but nothing too complicated – so be sure contact Certiport directly for the list of requirements.
~ Happy Beta Testing!
Tags: .NET 3.5, .NET 4.0, 70-502, 70-503, 70-505, 70-561, 70-562, 70-563, 70-564, 70-565, 71-511, 71-513, 71-515, 71-516, 71-518, 71-519, ASP.NET MVC 2, Beta Exams, Entity Framework, jQuery, JSON, LINQ, Visual Studio 2010
April was a tumultuous month, thanks to Microsoft’s release of .NET 4.0 Beta Exams. That’s right, Microsoft rolled out all six .NET 4.0/Visual Studio 2010 exams in one month. What that meant to me, your intrepid content developer, was two exams per week and reams of notes, whitepapers, and documentation.
Without violating the NDA, here are my first impressions of the new exams:
- 71-511 (TS: Windows Applications Development with .NET Framework 4): Sorry, Windows Forms developers, but there’s not a whole lot for you here. You had better bone up on WPF and focus on binding syntax. This exam is a lot more like the .NET 4.0 version of the 70-502 (TS: 3.5, Windows Presentation Foundation Application Development), rather than the 70-505 (TS: 3.5, Windows Forms Application Development).
- 71-513 (TS: Windows Communication Foundation Development with Microsoft .NET Framework 4): If you have taken the 70-503 (TS: 3.5, Windows Communication Foundation), then you have seen most of this exam before. The main additions are coverage of jQuery and JSON serialization support topics.
- 71-515 (TS: Web Applications Development with .NET Framework 4): A warning for old-school Web developers — this is not your father’s ASP anymore, so forget what you learned from the 70-562 (TS: 3.5, ASP.NET Application Development). The 4.0 exam focuses heavily on ASP.NET MVC 2, JSON, LINQ, and jQuery. You might find some comfort in configuration settings and debugging options, but many of these aspects have changed in the .NET 4.0 as well, so you’ll need to review the changes thoroughly.
- 71-516 (TS: Accessing Data with .NET Framework 4): Whereas Synchronization Services was found in the 70-561 (TS: 3.5, ADO.NET Application Development), this beta exam gives thorough coverage to the Entity Framework. Also, expect lots of LINQ.
- 71-518 (Pro: Designing and Developing Windows Applications Using .NET Framework 4): We don’t have an enterprise application exam anymore, so what to do? Why not create a mashup of the 70-563 (Pro: Designing and Developing Windows Applications Using the .NET Framework 3.5) and 70-565 (Pro: Designing and Developing Enterprise Applications Using the .NET Framework 3.5) and call it a new exam? There weren’t any surprises with this one.
- 71-519 (Pro: Designing and Developing Web Applications Using .NET Framework 4): The return of the case study? Really? I don’t know if this is an experiment that will make it past the beta version, but just in case, be prepared to see some new question types when this exam goes live. The content, however, is really just an updated version of the 70-564 (Pro: Designing and Developing ASP.NET Applications Using the .NET Framework 3.5).
So with the 4.0 track there are fewer exams, but more questions and content. Overall, I find myself missing the basic mechanics tested in the good old 70-536 (TS: Microsoft .NET Framework – Application Development Foundation), but Microsoft is definitely highlighting the new features of .NET 4.0 in these exams.
Phew … now onto practice test development!
(For earlier coverage of the .NET 4.0 exams see my post at The Times: They Are A’Changing for .NET Certification — keeping in mind that some of the info has changed in the interim.)
Tags: 70-113, Beta Exams, Emulations
If you missed out on the 70-113 pilot, or if you reside in a country where the pilot was not offered, you have another chance: it has been extended to October 25. The Microsoft Born To Learn crew just made this announcement:
Now virtual lab based pilot Exam 70-113 is available worldwide, with high concentration of test centers ready to receive registrations for this pilot exam in Ireland, Singapore, Canada, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, UK, Egypt, UAE, South Africa, US, India, Eastern Europe, Russia (Moscow), China.
If you’re at all interested, I suggest you hop on over to the Born To Learn post NOW for the promo code and signup information, because they’re also giving away exam vouchers:
Upon completion of this pilot exam, the first 3000 candidates will receive 3 (!) free exam vouchers that can be used to register for any Microsoft Certification exam delivered at a Prometric testing center.
Tags: 70-432, 70-433, 70-448, Beta Exams, exam tips, SQL Server 2008
Microsoft recently released the beta versions of the first TS exams for SQL Server 2008: exams 71-432 and 71-448. It is expected that a beta for 71-433 will be released later this month. The live versions of these exams should be released 6 to 8 weeks after the beta period closes. (Note: Beta tests for Microsoft usually start with 71-, while live exams are 70-XXX.)
During this time, the Product Development team at Transcender is developing practice tests for these exams. As one of the SQL Server test developers, I thought I’d share a few tips for taking the SQL Server 2008 certification tests.
Before you start studying, you first need to identify the test content. This is best done by reviewing the Skills Measured section of the Microsoft Exam Guide. (This is exactly what we do ourselves before developing a new practice test.) The SQL Server 2008 Exam Guides are as follows:
· 70-432 – TS: Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Implementation and Maintenance – http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/exams/70-432.mspx
· 70-433 – TS: Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Database Development – http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/exams/70-433.mspx
· 70-448 – TS: Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Business Intelligence Development and Maintenance – http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/exams/70-448.mspx
While reviewing the Exam Guide, you should identify the areas you need to study – areas where you aren’t as familiar with the technology as you could be. Then research those areas on SQL Server 2008’s TechNet site or SQL Server 2008 Books Online. Another great site that I use is Rob’s SQL Server blog.
Once you have studied all the skills needed for the certification, you should focus on ensuring you can pass the test. It is always good to review the technologies that are new to SQL Server 2008, or focus on what has changed from SQL Server 2005 to SQL Server 2008. The SQL Server 2008 Books Online site includes an article on the new and improved features in SQL Server 2008 at What’s New (SQL Server 2008). As with any exam, many of the test questions will focus on these version changes to ensure that the candidate has prepared for the exam and is fully updated on the application. Keep in mind that any new features that were introduced in SQL Server 2005 may also be covered. So be familiar with the features themselves, and also know which features have changed.
The entire Microsoft SQL Server Certification information page is here: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/cert-sql-server.aspx#tab2
Finally – to fully prepare for the exam experience, buy your practice test from Transcender. (Shameless plug! You didn’t think this would just be about the live exam, did you?) The Transcender practice tests should be released close to the live exam release date.
Tags: 70-113, Beta Exams
I tried taking the 70-113 exam (TS: Windows® Server 2008 Active Directory, Configuring) last Thursday. It’s technically a pilot of the new performance-based testing (PBT) technology, not a beta exam per se. However, the testing center couldn’t get the exam to run, so I just drove there and back. You could say it was a beta of the pilot, with the actual pilot to follow.
The nice lady at Prometric told me that Microsoft has extended the 71-113 pilot testing period “through the end of September,” so I rescheduled. The posted end date is September 12. Important Disclaimer: I’m not an official representative of either company; I don’t know if this translates to more slots opening up for the test or if they’re just shuffling around the people who were already signed up. If this is something you want to take and you missed the original beta announcement, you might want to keep an eye peeled on Trika’s blog to see if they announce an extension.
[Note for those unfamiliar with American slang: mo' betta means "more better." This is more worser grammar so don't repeat it on, say, a job application.]
[Note on the note. If, in LOLspeak, "pwned" is mo' betta than "owned," then would better than mo' betta be written as.... no' betta?]
ETA 9-12-08: Success! I contacted Microsoft directly a couple of weeks ago to report the test failures. And yesterday I got a call out of the blue from Prometric, asking me if I wanted to reschedule. So now I’m re-re-taking the 70-113 exam on September 19. Third time’s the charm.
From what I have seen on comment threads, the issue is not with the pilot product itself, but with the requirement that you connect to the Internet (where the virtual servers are) from within the Prometric network. Historically, exams have *not* allowed test-takers to go onto the Internet during an exam, so it makes sense that they’re still ironing out the kinks in that interface. (Again, not an official representative, not an official explanation, just a best guess.)
I’ll report on my actual experience when I return (victorious!) from the pilot.
ETA(2) 10-09-08: Pilot WAS extended! Information here: http://transcender.wordpress.com/2008/10/09/mo-beta-goes-global-70-113-pilot-period-extended-really-to-october-25-2008/.