The more exams change…


This came up recently, and I thought maybe some of you would like to hear these answers, too.

  • Does Microsoft update exams after their initial release?
  • Does Microsoft alert customers when exams are updated?
  • Are training materials updated when the exam is updated?

——–

Does Microsoft update exams after their initial release?
Yes. There are a very few scenarios in which we make changes to an exam after we release it to the public. In general, when an exam needs an update, we “seed” new content into an exam without changing the focus or difficulty of the exam. There are many complexities to these processes, and additional scenarios, but a few examples are:

  • when the underlying technology has a significant update that makes questions within the exam incorrect or irrelevant
  • when a question’s performance indicates that the question is not a fair/good representation of your skills and should not be on the test
  • when we feel an exam’s integrity may have been compromised.
  • we may update an exam to implement a new testing technology (i.e. simulations).

Does Microsoft alert customers when exams are updated?
No. Every question on the exam maps to one of the objectives that are published as part of the prep guide for this exam on the Microsoft Web site (http://www.microsoft.com/learning/exams/70-291.mspx). Exam items are updated on an as-needed basis, but the updated exam items still map to the existing prep guide. In other words, we’re still testing on the same skill set, even if a particular question changes. We do not announce or publish any record of updates to exam content. The subject matter experts who develop our exam questions have determined that the skills tested are ones that a minimally qualified candidate should possess to be considered proficient in this subject matter area, and we stick to that. In other words, nothing that we change on an exam should change how, or what, you study to prepare.

Are training materials updated when the exam is updated?
No. In accordance with ANSI and ISO accreditation standards, any Microsoft-developed learning materials related to this exam are developed independent of the exam content. Authors have access to the published objective domain, just as you do via the prep guides, but they do not have access to the exam questions themselves. Although these materials (e.g. training kits, courses, e-learning) are designed to help you prepare for the technology or an exam, it is expected that qualified candidates will have sufficient experience in working with the technology to successfully perform the tasks described in the test questions. Microsoft exams are not intended as post-tests on any preparation or training product. Our certifications are designed to measure experience-based skills without bias in regard to the manner in which candidates obtain these skills. This is the intended value of the certification and is in keeping with the standards (ANSI, ISO) mentioned.

Comments (11)

  1. Lukas Beeler says:

    I know that several people had problems with the translated version of exams (German, in this case) had problems on being tested on completely outdated technology (SUS, in this case).

    This might not be a big problem if you know at what technology level an exam is (SUS is easy enough to learn), but in this case it was. According to what i’ve heard, the problem has been fixed in the meantime. And has been fixed for a lot longer on the English exams.

  2. Dave Lawlor says:

    Trika-

    Interesting you brought this up.  I have a more specific question on this, because it was asked in the cert forums.  For the XP exam 70-271 part of the prep guide has the following:

    Configure and troubleshoot Internet Explorer

    With several subtopics.  Now what version of IE would the test taker be tested on?  IE 6 or IE 7?  I would think 7 because it comes under the clause:

    when the underlying technology has a significant update that makes questions within the exam incorrect or irrelevant

    With IE 7 being so different, I would think the exam would have been updated.

  3. Suzanne Manley says:

    Do you know why the exam preparation guide for 70-648 was updated on May 12 and then reverted on June 5 to the version that had been published prior to May 12?

  4. One note:

    Microsoft courseware is not designed to help prepare for exams. It is designed to help students learn how to use the product. Exam preparation is not a factor in creation of courses.

  5. Wayne Anderson says:

    One Note on Russ’ Note:

    Microsoft courseware / training kits are not designed to help prepare for exams.  It is designed to help students learn how to use the product [with a focus on the exam competencies map].

  6. Kevin says:

    So what happens if the exam is released from Beta and ends up being "too easy"?  I’m thinking about specifically about the exams in the MCITP:Enterprise Administrator track here.  Is it likely that those will become more difficult in the future, or are you going to leave the difficulty as-is?

  7. Kent A says:

    I agree with you Kevin.  I think focussing on the minimally qualified candidate setting is too low in the MCITP arena at least for 2008.  I would hope that setting would get readjusted from time to time as the technology matures and users gain experience.

  8. trikah@microsoft.com says:

    Suzanne, thanks for pointing that out, we fixed it trying to figure out what that’s happened.

  9. Note on Wayne’s note: <G>

    Courses are actually mapped to the job task analysis, not the exam objectives. However, lots of books are mapped to the exam objectives.

  10. Suzanne Manley says:

    Trika – is the 70-648 exam preparation guide that is dated June 5 the one that aligns with the current exam? Is that what you meant when you said that you fixed it? Thanks.

  11. Andres says:

    Are different exams if taken in Latin America sites from states (EU). Example, Puerto Rico vs New York?