• Awhile back, in the comments of one of my blog posts, there was a bit of chatter about what happens when someone escalates an issue or concern that they have with a question on an exam. How does this work? What really happens?

    Let's start at the beginning...

    So, you're taking an exam and find a question that you feel is technically inaccurate, doesn't have a correct answer, or has some other flaw that prevents you from answering it correctly. What do you do?

    You have to let us know!!! Sometimes, there are issues with a question or even the exam delivery that we aren't aware of... unless you tell us. Don't assume that we know! We are not trying to trick you. Really!

    To escalate an issue with the content of an exam, you need to complete the exam item challenge form found here (expand the section "Challenging a Microsoft Certification exam item"). Complete the form within three days of taking the exam, and submit it following the provided instructions. Once we receive the form, we start our investigation into the issue or concern raised.

    Using the information provided, we will identify the question being challenged. This means that you need to provide as much information as possible about the question and your concerns so that we can identify the correct question. Some tips to help us identify the right question: What was the context of the question? What was particularly memorable about it? Did it mention a company or server or code? What type of question was it (multiple choice, build list, hot area, etc.)? Currently, we are unable to see the order in which you saw the items, so telling us that it was question #5 doesn’t help. We need as many details as you can recall!

    Once we have done so, we work with subject matter experts to determine whether the question is flawed. Based on their feedback, we will provide you with a response. To protect the integrity of the exam content, we can't provide specific details about the feedback that the experts provided, but we will provide a general summary of the results of the investigation. It can take up to six weeks to receive a response from us, although we do our best to provide one sooner.

    If we determine that there is no issue, nothing changes in the exam. It is not uncommon for someone to misremember the content of a question, leading them to believe it to be flawed when it is not. There is some interesting psychology at play here... Humans have notoriously poor memories, which are shaped by our expectations and self-fulfilling prophesies. If something doesn't align to our expectations or if we don't know something, we have an amazing ability to recreate our memories to fit our expectations and our existing knowledge. And, sometimes the person raising the issue is simply incorrect.

    However, if the feedback has merit, we will fix or remove the flawed question. It can take a little time to make these types of fixes because of the psychometric implications of fixing questions on or removing questions from an exam. That means that if you retake the exam soon after providing feedback about an issue, you might see the flawed question again. What happens to your score in these cases? I check to see whether removing the question changes your score as well as the score needed to pass, but it is unusual for the removal of a question to change either. Why? Well, sometimes you answered the question correctly even though it was flawed, so removing the question actually "hurts" your score--you now have one less point. If you didn't answer the question correctly, then your score doesn't change. What might change is the cut score, but even this is surprisingly rare because we always round up to the nearest whole number when we set the cut score. Rounding up ensures that you have demonstrated at least minimal competence in the content domain. If the cut score does change, you and everyone who saw that version of the question will be rescored and contacted by VUE with an explanation of what happened. And, sometimes, you are more than one point away from passing although you may not realize it.

    The most common question I get at this point is: Why not just give me the point? Because I can’t assume that you would have answered the question correctly without the flaw. I have to ensure you are at least minimally competent. I cannot make any assumptions about your performance. I have to use the answers you provided to our questions to make this decision. I can remove questions from this consideration if they are flawed, but I cannot assume you would have known something if the question had not been flawed.

    This is an overview of the exam content escalation process. We take your feedback very seriously. I wish I could provide specific examples of changes that we've made not only based on your escalations but also on the comments that you provide during the exam, but I cannot for the same reasons why we don't provide detailed explanations about the results of our investigations into the issues that you raise - providing too many details might undermine the integrity and security of the exam content.

    Know that your comments and feedback help us identify content that is flawed or outdated. You also help us find typos. Yes, typos shouldn't ever make it on to our exams, but there's no such thing as a perfect question and sometimes, they do. So, I really want to thank you for being passionate enough about our exams to take the time to provide this type of feedback. I believe our exams get better every day because you do.

    Now, what questions do you have?

  • |

    Microsoft Certified Trainers (MCTs) are some of the most knowledgeable people around when it comes to understanding the world of Microsoft training and certification. Why’s that? It’s because they’re in front of professionals like yourself every day, teaching and answering questions. With hundreds upon hundreds of hours of experience doing it, MCTs are certainly your go-to for tips, advice and insights on how to best prepare for your next certification exam. But of course, like everyone else, they were once beginners and brand new to the world of certifications. So, how did they get their start? I was curious too, so I asked three of our most knowledgeable MCTs,

    Question: What’s your certification story? Why did you first get started with Microsoft Certifications?

    Rachel Jones, MCT

    I took my first exam in 1995 and have continued the process of upgrading my certifications along the way. Certification provides me with the credibility I need as a contract trainer and software developer to get my foot in the door with clients.

    Armando Lacerda, MCT

    My first certification was in Visual Basic 4.0 back in 1996. The company I was working for down in Brazil was required to show expertise in the programming language/environment. It felt good to pass that first one and to be able to present myself as a skilled professional for that project.

    Beth Canterbury MCT

    I have always enjoyed working with software and helping others. In the late 1990s, I became a Microsoft application instructor for a training company (that was also a certified testing center) and was able to take Microsoft exams onsite–of which, I have been fortunate to continue on that path and have been certified in Microsoft Office up to the present day.

    Thanks to Rachel, Armando, and Beth for answering my questions!

    Want to see more MCT Answers posts? Read the following posts on BTL:

  • Not too long ago, I was in the process of finishing my MCSD in Windows Store Apps. When I began my journey, I wasn't too familiar with Windows Store Apps; most of my work was in Windows Phone Apps. With the introduction of Universal Apps in Windows (Phone) 8.1, I decided to completely rewrite my flagship Windows Phone App, The Krewe, as a Universal App.

    While re-writing the app, I learned a ton about the internals of Windows (Phone) 8.1. I was able to leverage this knowledge to pass 70-485: Advanced Windows Store App Development Using C#. I'm sure I could pass 70-484: Essentials of Developing Windows Store Apps Using C#, but that's not good enough for me.

    I wanted to put my app up to the challenge. Earlier today, I registered for the AppToCert program. This, currently free, program allows you to get certification credit for the apps you create. The process is simple. You create or update any Windows Store or Windows Phone Store app. Once you're ready, you enroll in the program and make an appointment with the Microsoft Developer Support Experts. During the appointment, you get one-on-one time with a Microsoft engineer while your application is evaluated. Not only will the engineer review your app for the necessary criteria, they can also offer tips and tricks to make your app even better.

    After the initial review, you will either pass the review or be given a list of items to fix. You are then given a few weeks to implement the suggestions of the engineer. This will lead to a second review. Once you are given the approval of the support engineer, all you have to do is publish or update you app.

    After your app is published, you are given a limited amount of time to pass one of a selection of certification tests. Fortunately, as mentioned above, I already passed one of the required test.

    I must admit; I'm a little nervous about the review. I know my app is solid. However, as any developer knows, there is a huge difference between knowing my app works and knowing my app works correctly. I'm excited to receive feedback from the engineer, and I know it will help me produce an even better app.

    I'm also a little worried because my app doesn't implement every feature in the required elements list. It's not for lack of ability to implement the features. It's for lack of having a necessary use case for the features. I'm supremely curious about the feedback I'll receive over these few things.

    But, for now, I must wait for my appointment. After it's over, I'll post the next installment of this series with details about the process.

  • Who doesn’t like a second chance to get something right? With our Second Shot offer, you can do just that. But if you want to take advantage of the offer, you better do it soon because time is running out!

    What is our Second Shot offer?
    It’s simple: Take any Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) or Microsoft Dynamics exam on or before May 31, 2015, and you’ll receive a free Second Shot to use within 30 days of your initial attempt.

    To qualify for Second Shot:

    • You must complete a Microsoft certification exam on or before May 31, 2015. Simply go to https://www.microsoft.com/learning, log in, and schedule your exam.
    • After your exam, log in to check your personal dashboard at https://www.microsoft.com/learning to verify testing results. Please allow up to 24 hours for results to show up on the dashboard.
    • If you did not pass your initial exam, select retake within 30 days of the exam to schedule the retake.
    • Please review the Pearson VUE testing center availability for your specific exam and then schedule your retake. 
    • For complete terms and conditions of this offer, visit the Second Shot page on our website.

    Good luck on your road to a new Microsoft certification title! Don’t forget—if you want to take your exam from the comfort of your own home (or wherever you may be), be sure to check out Online Proctoring. And of course, once you earn your new certification, add it to your CV and LinkedIn profile. And if you're on Xbox, put an MCP shirt on your avatar!

  • With the announcement of the new MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect, you may have started to consider getting certified in Azure.  Today, we have three fresh certification exams that each earn you a Specialist certification and together earn you a Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer credential.

    70-532

    Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions

    70-533

    Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions

    70-534

    Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions

    That’s right, if you pass any one of the exams above, you earn a Microsoft Specialist certification immediately and are a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) right away.  Once you pass all three, you earn the MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect certification and prove the mightiness of your Azure domain knowledge.  This is an interesting certification because you have to be comfortable with the Developer, IT Pro, DevOps and Design/Architecture aspects of the Azure platform and can’t just stay within your traditional technology silos.

    So now that I have piqued your interest, let’s talk about studying and getting ready to ace these exams.  In this blog post, I will provide you with many useful resources that you can use today to study for and pass these exams.  These resources are grouped based on how far you are in your certification journey so you can start from the first section and use all the resources or skip to a higher-level section and focus on what’s most useful to you.  For example, if you are new to Azure entirely, you could start with the first section and then follow the tips in all three sections.

    Getting Started (New to the Azure platform)

    So you are new to Azure and your boss wants you to ramp up on the platform and get certified.  Maybe you are about to spearhead a large project in the Cloud.  Maybe you are a consultant and you are moving to a team that specializes in Azure.  Maybe your company just wants one of those new, shiny Cloud partner competencies.  Whatever the reason, you are new and need to ramp up as quickly as possible.

    Azure is a large platform in its scope and it is very easy to be overwhelmed when trying to determine where to start.  There are some useful resources available to you to help you get started on the right path when studying for any of three Azure certifications.

    Microsoft Press has always made available a collection of free eBooks that you can download for your favorite reading device.  With the new MS Press storefront, the eBooks has been collected together on a single webpage.  There are a few books here that will definitely help you get started.  First, the Microsoft Azure Essentials: Fundamentals of Azure book is a great read that does a broad overview of many of the Azure services and will get you started on your Azure knowledge journey.  The book is written by two great Azure MVPs (Michael Collier and Robin Shahan) who have great social media feeds and past conference sessions that you can view online to learn more about the Azure platform.  The Introducing Windows Azure for IT Professionals book is a little older but it does cover the core IaaS topics that you want to be familiar with when taking 70-533.  The Building Cloud Apps with Microsoft Azure book is a newer book that walks through best practices when building applications for Azure which ties in nicely with 70-532 and 70-534.  While certification exams do cover provable and testable domain knowledge, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t read the whole book and learn about many of the best practices and patterns out there.  The latter book will make sure that you build great, high-quality applications well after you are done with this aspect of your certification journey.

    Ready to start thinking about taking the exam?  Every year at our technical conferences, MCT Ambassadors present Exam Prep sessions for the most popular certifications.  At Ignite 2015, we had more Exam Prep sessions than ever and record attendance for each session.  These sessions tend to run 75 minutes long and provide guidance for people who are considering taking the exam.  Each session covers some of the most important topics from the Exam description pages.  These sessions tend to be short, fun and engaging so I recommend you check out all three.  You can find Exam Prep sessions for each of the Azure certifications below:

    Some Experience (Delivered a Project using Azure)

    You have delivered a project on Azure already.  It might have been a hobbyist project with an IoT device and Service Bus or it could be your company’s production application hosted on Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) mirroring your on premise setup.  Maybe you did some rapid prototyping using the new App Service.  You have worked with Azure but you need to “fill the gaps” in your domain knowledge.

    One of the interesting things about Azure is that you can work with the platform for years without ever using 20% of the available services.  Your focus for earning these certifications certainly becomes widening the breadth of your knowledge to cover all of the items mentioned on each exam’s description page.

    Microsoft Press has released Exam Reference (Exam Ref) books for two of the Azure certifications.  The Exam Ref series of books was introduced in 2011 that was intended to supplement the knowledge of experts who already have some experience in the exam topic and just want to focus on what they need to pass the exam.  For this reason, I recommended the free Fundamentals of Azure eBook in the previous section if you have no working experience with Azure.  The two Exam Ref books that are released focuses on the services that you need to understand deeply to successfully earn one of the specialist certifications.

    Do you prefer online training?  Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) has a collection of great videos on various Azure topics.  For your convenience, two jump starts are already available on MVA for two of the Azure certification exams.  I was a co-presenter for the 70-532 MVA session so if you want to talk more about Azure or that session, feel free to reach out to me @sidney_andrews or Bret Stateham. The 70-534 exam prep session was delivered by a great collaboration of Azure experts from Microsoft. Links are below:

    Although it is not directly an exam prep session, there is a great session on Azure IaaS that can help you prepare for 70-533:

    If you prefer traditional training in a classroom environment with a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT), than you can always take one of the Microsoft Official Courseware (MOC) 5-day courses for Azure.  These courses are available to book today through your favorite Learning Partners.

    These courses are updated regularly to adapt to changes in the Azure platform.  I authored 20532B and we did something really interesting where we released the labs with an open license.  You can go to GitHub today and view the labs for the 70-532 official course.  Want to log an issue with a lab or ask for an enhancement?  Feel free to contribute and participate in our GitHub repo:

    Experienced Architect (Delivers multiple projects or consults on the Azure platform)

    You have done it all!  You have stood up the greatest of business requirements and conquered them using the agility of the cloud.  Maybe you have an IPSec tunnel connecting an Azure Virtual Network to an AWS network.  Maybe you have deployed the world’s most elegant continuous deployment solution using Visual Studio Online (VSO) and Cloud Services.  You are very experienced in the platform and you just need to know what it will take to earn the MCSD badge of honor.

    What are you doing?  Go sit the exams today!  I can personally speak to the fear that you are unprepared and may not pass an exam.  The best way to get over this “hump” is to take advantage of the Second Shot promotion.  Second Shot is currently available for exams taken between January 5, 2015 and May 31, 2015.  Using this promotion, if you fail the exam you can have a free retake within 30 days of the date of the failed exam.  With this, you can just sit the exam right away and see how you feel after taking it.  I have always felt that once you sit the exam you will “know what you don’t know” and feel much more comfortable about the second sitting of the same exam.  Second Shot is also a great way to measure your current knowledge if you know that you want to earn a certification but have no idea how prepared you are for the exam.

    Another tip for preparing for an exam is to review the exam’s description page on the http://microsoft.com/learning website.  This page includes a Skills measured section that breaks down what technical abilities are measured by the exam and their relative weights within the exam.  The Skills measured section can easily be printed and used as a quick checklist for you when studying for the exam.  It’s not uncommon to see individuals print out the Skills measured section of this page and use a highlighter to help prioritize their studying time.  Here are links to the three exam description pages:

    Wrapping Up

    Hopefully, this list of resources will help you in your certification journey!  

    If you are traveling to a Microsoft conference this year, be sure to come meet the MCT Ambassadors and Microsoft Learning staff!  Every year, Microsoft Learning travels to various Microsoft conferences to offer on-site certification testing and to answer your questions.  This is a great time to sit down with experts on the exams and talk about the various resources available to you when preparing for an exam.  

    In addition to on-site testing and the MCT Ambassadors at these events, MCT-led Exam Prep Sessions are offered, as well as a Study Hall with plenty of resources to help you prepare for your next exam.  This year at Microsoft Ignite 2015, the MCT Ambassadors got to answer many questions about Azure and Office 365 certifications and see many people walk out of the exam room either a new MCP or a recently expanded MCP.  Next year, come by the Microsoft Learning's Training & Certification area to learn more about certifications.

    Do you have any additional tips?  Feel free to share in the comments section below!  Good luck and send a tweet to @MSLearning letting us know how you did on the exam!

  • |

    Everything Lync is becoming Skype for Business. This means we’re working on replacing our Lync exams with Skype for Business exams. We’re still working on the availability date for the Skype for Business exams, but need to announce the retirement of the Lync exams (July 2015) to give notice to those who are planning to take the exams soon or who are currently in-path. But don’t worry—we won’t pull the Lync exams out of market until the Skype for Business exams are available.

    The new Skype for Business exams will count toward MCSE: Communication certification like the Lync 2013 exams currently do.

    Stay tuned for more information on the new Skype for Business exams.

    ------------

    FAQ

    Q: Should I hold off on taking exams until the Skype for Business exams are available?
    A: Not at all. Skype for Business builds on Lync’s features and functionality. The Lync exams provide you with a solid foundation for your Skype for Business implementation. See what’s new in Skype for Business.

    Q: Will there be an upgrade exam for those who have completed both Lync exams and want to move to Skype for Business?
    A: No. Once you’ve earned your MCSE: Communication certification you cannot re-earn it. You can, however, keep it current through recertification. If you’re not ready to recertify but want to gain some Skype for Business skills, check out this training video.  

    Q: What about recertification?
    A: Holders of the MCSE: Communication credential must recertify every three years. Recertification is a great way to ensure that you stay current in the latest technology, such as Skype for Business. We’ll be providing more information about recertification options for MCSE: Communication this summer.

    Q: I’m a partner with the Microsoft Partner Network. I have the Communications Competency and just took the Lync exams to qualify. Do I still qualify?
    A: Retirement of an exam from Microsoft learning does not retire it as a qualifying exam for a Competency. Lync Exams for the Communications Competency will still qualify for a period of time. Always check the Microsoft Partner Network competency requirements. You can view the current Communications Competency requirements here

  • |

    What’s the value of a Microsoft Certification?

    How do I prepare for an exam?

    Where do I get study materials and test questions for practice?

    How many questions can I expect when I take an exam?

    If I don’t answer a question because I either run out of time or skip it, is it wrong?

    If you’ve ever thought about taking a Microsoft Certification exam, there’s a good chance you have pondered at least one of these questions. How do I know that? Well, these are just a few of the most common questions candidates often ask us when they’re getting ready for an exam. Thankfully, we have a team full of super-knowledgeable experts who help answer questions like these on a daily basis, and if you’ve been around the Born To Learn blog, you know that two of them are Liberty Munson and Briana Roberts (also known as the “ACE Team”).

    Over the past few months, Liberty and Briana have been helping answer the most frequently asked questions in a series of ACE NewsBytes—bite-sized videos designed to quickly give you the scoop on a given subject related to Microsoft Certification and training. Each video covers a specific topic, and so far ACE NewsByte videos have answered questions about:

    • Preparing for a Microsoft Certification exam.
    • How Microsoft Certification exams are developed.
    • How Microsoft Certification exams are scored.
    • The value of Microsoft Certification to your career.

    For anyone just getting started with Microsoft Certifications (or even if you’re an exam veteran), all of these videos are incredibly helpful because they provide insights into the exams that you can’t find anywhere else. In fact, many of the questions came from a webinar Liberty did with Pluralsight called The Science Behind the MCSE. She wasn’t originally able to answer all of the questions she received, so Liberty decided to make these videos as a continuation project.

    I compiled all of the videos in this blog entry so you can get quick access and review them as needed. Enjoy!

    1. Preparing for a Microsoft Certification exam

    In this video, Liberty and Briana answer questions to common questions about preparing for a certification exam. They answer the following questions:

    • How do I prepare for an exam?
    • Where do I get study materials and test questions for practice?
    • How long would you say it takes to prepare for a Microsoft Certification exam?

     

    2. Developing Microsoft Certification exams

    How exactly are Microsoft exams created and developed? In this ACE NewsByte, the ACE team answers the following questions:

    • How many questions can candidates expect when they take an exam?
    • Are the questions tested in a real-world situation before appearing on an exam?
    • Why do we require candidates to memorize commands when answering questions on these skills?
    • How can someone become a subject-matter expert for Microsoft exam development?
    • How often are internal Microsoft employees used in this process?

     

    3. Scoring Microsoft Certification exams

    If you want to know exactly how Microsoft Certification exams are scored, this is the video you want to watch. In this NewsByte, Liberty and Briana provide answers to these questions:

    • Are all questions objectively scored? In other words, are they all scored automatically or are some human graded?
    • If there is more than one way to answer a question—for example, when a task can be completed in a variety of different ways—what is considered “correct”?
    • How many points is each question worth?
    • How do you decide how many points a question is worth? Does the difficulty of a question come into play in these decisions?
    • If you don’t answer a question because you either run out of time or skip it, is it wrong?

     

    4. The value of Microsoft Certification to your career

    Regardless of whether you’re considering working towards your first Microsoft Certification or if you’re one of the many dedicated professionals who have earned several, you’ll want to watch this NewsByte. That’s because in this ACE NewsByte, Liberty and Briana cover a wide variety of questions related to how certifications can be meaningful to your career. In it, they answer the following questions:

    • What are the benefits of getting certified with Microsoft? What edge does someone who is certified have over someone who is not?
    • How do certifications differentiate you from others?
    • How are we educating hiring managers about the meaning and relevance of Microsoft Certifications?
    • How is Microsoft helping those who have Microsoft Certifications find jobs?
    • How does the process works after you get certified? Is there a way that clients/employers can verify your credentials?

    Well, that’s it! Hopefully, you find all of the information on this page helpful, and if you’re walking away with a better understanding of Microsoft Certifications and training, I know I did my job.

    Are there any questions not listed here that you’d like to ask our ACE NewsByte team? Leave it in the comments section, and I’ll make sure it gets answered.

  • Do you know Office 365? Would you like to help us evaluate a new item type: text entry/short answer? Of course, you do! Microsoft Learning is evaluating the possibility of including short answer (text-based) questions on our certification exams and in our online courses. By completing this short survey, you can help us evaluate the efficiency and accuracy of various automated scoring technologies, as well as if and how we can best leverage short answer (text-based) questions in our learning products.

    The example questions in the survey are based on 0365 skills and represent different variations of short answer questions that we are exploring. These variations are also designed to allow us to evaluate several automated scoring systems. As a result, we are asking questions that require complex responses and/or to provide multiple pieces of information. By doing this, we can understand the limitations of these scoring systems.

    This survey will take less than 5 minutes to complete and will help us ensure the validity, reliability, and relevance of our certification exams and program.

    You can access the survey at this link: http://aka.ms/shortqa

    Thank you for taking the time to provide your input!

  • This past week was one full of excitement, collaboration, and opening doors of opportunity with educators and students from around the world. In Redmond, we hosted both the IT Academy global customer summit and the Educator Exchange (E2) events during the week. I was truly inspired to see all of the innovative work being done worldwide to build critical skills and enhance student opportunity for the next generation workforce.

    Early in the week, we launched the 3rd Annual IT Academy Global Customer Summit. This event featured connections and best practices sharing with more than 35 customers, 6 educators, and 9 Microsoft certified students, representing more than 9,000 ITAs across the globe. We enjoyed a great exchange of ideas and input from our ITA customers related to Microsoft certifications and employability skills education for their students. There were informative discussions around the growing focus in schools globally on Computer Science and STEM curriculum, and why coding and the critical thinking and collaborative skills associated with it are so essential to student success.

    We heard the input. Collectively, we have a tremendous opportunity to build on the success we’ve had in boosting business productivity skills with Microsoft Office for students to now expand and reach those interested in higher level technical subjects. Working in conjunction with our IT Academy customers and  educators, we’re aiming to make Computer Science a more meaningful part of STEM programs reaching students worldwide.  These core technical skills related to coding and programming, and related certifications, are becoming essential to better equip students entering the 21st century workforce.  The great potential of this approach to infuse technical and computer science skills at younger ages was clearly evident in my Picture of Pat and Scottconversation at the ITA Summit with Patrick and Scott from Mountwest Community & Technical College in West Virginia, USA, an IT Academy customer since the program’s inception in 2001.  

    Scott has a long background in industry, but found his true calling in education running the Computer Science and technical curriculum at Mountwest.  This is where he inspired one of his star pupils Patrick, who went on to become a teacher at Mountwest himself.  Their partnership and passion on campus today at Mountwest is incredible, as they are firm believers in the power of “the industry and education loop” as Patrick coined it.  “Our close relationship with local businesses gives us a great perspective, as we not only teach technical and coding courses, but also make sure our students have the right skills and certifications to be successful in the industry culture.”  

    During the week, our ITA customers also participated in the Worldwide Public Sector Education E2 (Educator Exchange) conference, to share ideas and best practices with 250 Microsoft Innovative Educators (MIEs) and 30 student ambassadors visiting the Microsoft main campus from more than 80 countries.  This was a wonderful opportunity to share ideas and approaches for exciting students, engaging parents and communities, and equipping educators with the skills and tools they need to embrace productivity skills, cloud technologies, and Computer Science learning opportunities.  It was exhilarating to see the breadth of innovative projects being driven on a worldwide basis with educators adopting and showcasing technologies from Office Mix to Sway to OneNote and Touch Develop.  

    Our Learning Experiences (LeX) team also had an opportunity to host a certification day as part of the week. More than 100 educators and students took certification exams on-site in Redmond in an on-campus testing lab supported with our partners at Certiport. It was so energizing to talk to the newly certified teachers – their excitement was contagious! Olga, who teaches students in Russia ranging in age from 6-17, was thrilled with her attainment of the Microsoft Certified Educator (MCE) credential. “My young students are so interested in computer science, and now I feel I really understand how technology can be used in the teaching process.”  The student ambassadors who gathered during the week and also attempted exams on-site were equally enthusiastic about their experience at E2.  Miguel, a student ambassador from the Dominican Republic, summed it up best, “these opportunities to learn and meet other students from around the world help me know that I can really pursue my hopes and dreams.”



    In all, it was a whirlwind week full of creativity and promising innovations, that I hope left the educators and students full of new ideas to take back to their schools and peers around the world. Here at Microsoft, the week was a great opportunity for us to share our enthusiasm for growing technical employability skills, the value of certifications, and most of all the importance of learning and expanding opportunities. I know I am inspired to learn from so many of our customers, and I look forward to hearing more successes from school leaders, educators and students I met through the week. Kudos to all!

    Carrie

    To learn more about Microsoft’s learning platform & certification resources, please visit www.microsoft.com/itacademy 

  • What’s your Microsoft Certification story? If you’re an MCP at Microsoft Ignite, we’d love to hear from you!

    At Certification Central, we’re talking with MCPs about Microsoft Certifications and exams and what it’s meant to their career. We’d love for you to share your thoughts with us.

    To participate, just come by and let our team know that you want to share your story on camera! Please note that it will take about 15 minutes.

    Want to come share your story with us? To find Certification Central at Microsoft Ignite, check out step-by-step directions on this post.

  • Microsoft Ignite is happening this week at McCormick Place in Chicago and we're absolutely ecstatic to be here! To make it easier for you to find us while here, with the help of MCP Program Manager Patrick Thomas, we took a few photos to show you how to get to Certification Central. Here's how:  

    1. Walk to the end of the main sky bridge. You'll know you're going the right way when you see signs like this pointing you towards, "Microsoft Training & Certification". 

    2. At the end of the sky bridge, face the right and go down this escalator. 

    You'll see this sign as you go down the escalator. It says, "Welcome to the Lakeside Center".

    3. At the bottom of the escalator, take a left. When you see "Chicago Visitor Information", turn left and walk down the corridor. 

     

    4. When you see these doors, turn left. 

    5. Next, walk down the hall and you're almost there! 

    6. When you see these signs, you've found Certification Central! 

    Woo hoo! While at Certification Central, don't forget to register for an exam (for half price) at one of our exam registration stations...

      

    Then, take your exam right here on-site at the conference!   

    Also, don't forget to take advantage of our study hall! It's packed with resources to help you get prepared for your exam. 

    Wondering when we'll be open this week? Here are our hours during Ignite: 

      

    Alright, well I think that's it! Come find us at Ignite and let us help you reach your certification goals! 

  • Hello MCPs!

     

    I am so excited to be in Chicago for Microsoft Ignite 2015! And I brought with me a surprise: an exclusive sweepstakes just for Microsoft Certified Professionals at Ignite!

     

    What could MCPs win at Ignite?

    • Grand Prize: A Surface 3. One (1) will be awarded on May 7.
    • First Prize: $100.00 Visa gift card. One (1) will be awarded each day, May 4 to May 6.

     

    How do MCPs enter to win?

    1. Tweet a picture of yourself with another Ignite attendee and a short message about the topic you discussed, e.g. “getting certified in Azure this week” or “we’re both MCSE: Server Infrastructure!
    2. You must include both hashtags #IgniteMCP and #msIgnite within your tweet to be eligible.

     

    Limit ten (10) unique entries per person. The same entry may not be posted by multiple people. All prizes must be picked up by 2:00 pm on May 8, 2015, from Certification Central at Ignite 2015. (Please see the complete terms and conditions*.)

     

    Have a great time this week, and I’ll see you at the Microsoft Training and Certification booth!

     

    Patrick Thomas
    MCP Program Manager

     

     

    *Official Terms and Conditions attached.

     

  • At the Ignite conference in Chicago, the Microsoft Learning team will be on-site assisting attendees along their certification journey. More simply put, we’re going to be at the conference helping rock stars like yourself, pass Microsoft exams and earn certifications.

    Helping us with this will be many of the most knowledgeable and passionate people around—our Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) Ambassadors. This is a group of trainers from around the world who are extremely passionate about helping students learn Microsoft technologies and earn certifications. If you have goals of earning a certification at Ignite (for half the price!), you'll definitely want to know about this group of awesome people. 

    To learn more about the MCT Ambassadors, I set out with my video camera to talk to one—Microsoft’s Christopher Harrison (AKA @GeekTrainer). In this short interview, we talk about:

    • Why Christopher’s excited about Microsoft Ignite
    • What Microsoft Ignite is all about
    • What Microsoft Learning will be doing on-site at Ignite
    • Who the MCT Ambassadors are and how they can help you at Ignite
    • What types of questions you can ask them 

    Enjoy!

  • |

    The latest information on retiring exams

    As technology changes, we add new exams and revise or retire older exams. We have planned the exam retirement dates for the next 12 months and have listed them in a downloadable page here. Both the exams and dates that are planned for retirement are subject to change, so please check the exam retirement page regularly for the latest information.

    Even if an exam that is part of a certification you earned is retired, your certification is still valid. When an exam you passed is retired, the exam record remains on your transcript.

    If you’re working toward a certification that includes one of the exams listed for retirement, please be sure to take the exam prior to the retirement date. Allow time for a retake if necessary.

    If you have any questions about exam retirement, please contact your regional service center.

  • |

    Ken:

    Larry, you recently announced a new recertification option through Microsoft Virtual Academy, and your blog post drew a few strong replies. Thanks for taking the time to review and respond to them. I’ll try to summarize the main questions and concerns. 

    Getting right into it, those recert paths look pretty long. Do we really need all that introductory content, and do people really need to watch all the videos?

     

    Larry:

    Yeah, we probably could have been clearer about how you complete the path.  At each step, you actually start with the assessments.  If you pass, you move on to the next step—no videos or lessons required.  If you fail, you review the related course material and then take the assessment again.  Each path covers all of the skills tied to a specific role., but if you're working with the technology every day, you'll quickly pass through most of the content and just focus your study on the recent changes.

     

    Ken:

    So in other words, you can “test out” of each module and only take the stuff you don’t already know—that’s great. But what stops someone Binging the answers to the assessments or getting someone else to do it for them?  

     

    Larry:

    Well, let's put this in perspective:  The candidates who are getting recertification credit are already MCPs who have proven themselves by passing 3-5 proctored, robust exams with their identities verified at all steps along the way. The point of recertification isn’t to make you prove the same skills over and over again (although if you want to take the exams, that’s great) but rather to motivate you to keep your skills current. It’s about continuing education, just like many other fields require.

    I suppose someone could cheat on the assessments, but there’s not much of a point in doing so—the content and assessments are free and can be taken multiple times if needed; we’re just focused on helping our MCPs keep their skills sharp.

     

    Ken:

    What about the quality of the Microsoft Virtual Academy courses and assessments? Are they strong enough to base recertification on?

     

    Larry:

    Absolutely. Look, Microsoft Virtual Academy is a really big library with lots of variation in style, depth, and tone. But courses and assessments tied to recertification will meet very specific requirements to ensure the quality level we need. We've already started that work for the assessments tied to these first three recert paths - the exam development team has thoroughly reviewed the current question pools and is working with the course authors to improve them.

     

    Ken:

    So, we're raising the quality bar, but how about the frequency bar?  How often will we update these courses?

     

    Larry:

    Good question! The days of boxed software products are passing.  To stay current - especially in areas like Azure - we need to update the learning content a lot more frequently.  So, when you're next up for recertification, expect that some (if not most) of the content in the learning path will have changed.  But again: you'll follow the same process, taking the assessments and focusing only on the changes that are unfamiliar to you.

    Spoiler alert, by the way:  Right now, we have a two-year recertification cycle for developers, and a three-year recertification cycle for IT and database professionals.  To keep up with changes in technology, we're going to have to compress that, with a goal of a one-year recertification cycle.  But, we'll make the changes slowly, provide plenty of notice, and ensure that we have Microsoft Virtual Academy recertification paths in place.

     

    Ken:

    What about other training options?  Do I have to take the Microsoft Virtual Academy Courses, or can I go to a Microsoft Learning Partner for training?

     

    Larry:

    You can use any training method you want., as long as you come back to Microsoft Virtual Academy to take the assessments.

    Ken:

    But won't the use of Microsoft Virtual Academy courses cut into training providers’ business?

     

    Larry:

    Frankly, there isn't a lot of opportunity to bring recertifying MCSE individuals into the traditional classroom.  They've already earned an expert-level certification, and it really isn’t feasible to “test out” of a module you already know once you show up at the training center if you only need, say, a day and a half out of a five-day course. We think our Learning Partners have a stronger opportunity helping those customers learn new skills on new products.

    If anything, the new recertification paths provide Learning Partners and their instructors with additional opportunities to engage their customers.  Custom instructor-led workshops and mentoring services, which focus on new product features and processes, could be developed by leveraging Microsoft Virtual Academy material.

     

    Ken:

    So, when I complete the learning path, what do I get?

     

    Larry:

    Well, in addition to resetting the recertification date on your MCSE certification, you'll also see credit for each skill you complete on your Microsoft transcript.  For the recertification preview, we're checking each assessment you complete and manually awarding the skills.

     

    Ken:

    Manually? Yikes. Are we going to automate that at all?

     

    Larry:

    Boy, I hope so, because my fingers are getting tired! Seriously though, we are planning to integrate back-end systems, so that you can directly associate your MC ID with your Microsoft Virtual Academy account and immediately see your progress towards recertification reflected on your Microsoft transcript.

     

    Ken:

    Okay, so streamlined recert process, recognition on my transcript, more opportunities for expert-level training…  What about the feedback that the recertification procedure should be as rigorous as the original process to earn your certification.  Should it be?

     

    Larry:

    No.  Like I said earlier, you've already proven yourself once with robust, proctored exams.  For recertification, we just want you to keep up with the ever-changing technology in your specialty area, in the most convenient way possible.

     

    Ken:

    And the question about recertification through Microsoft Virtual Academy devaluing the entire certification program?

     

    Larry:

    No, again, because this is only about recertification.  We are not changing the criteria for earning our certifications.  Everyone still has to take the same robust, proctored exams to get their certifications. I don’t foresee a time when Microsoft certification won’t require proctored exams.

    Ken…I have a question for you.  How long has Microsoft recertification been in market?

     

    Ken:

    Well, let's see…we rolled out the first batch of recertification exams last August, right?

     

    Larry:

    That’s right.  We've been talking about recertification for a few years, but we just put that option into market very recently, so, implementation-wise, this is actually a strengthening feature, not a weakening one. We have a unique opportunity right now to put in place the additional ways for people to keep their certifications current that align to the way people learn.

     

    Ken:

    So, perhaps the burning question on everyone's mind is why are we doing this type of recertification in the first place?

     

    Larry:

    When we look to what others in IT industry are doing today, more often than not, their recertification programs embrace the idea of continuing education.  For example, look at CompTIA, PMI, and I(SC)2.   In addition to exams, individuals holding their certifications can maintain them by reporting their participation in a number of learning activities, including online and instructor-led training, conferences, and writing or teaching courses.  It just makes sense, because it recognizes all of the ways that people stay current in their areas of specialty.  Our recertification through Microsoft Virtual Academy option is very much aligned with this approach.

     

    Ken:

    And will there be other ways to recertify in the future?  Perhaps, a hands-on project?

     

    Larry:

    I think that's a strong possibility.  We're already recognizing developer real-world experience for certification credit with the AppToCert program, and we're continuing to explore other options in experiential validation.

     

    Ken:

    Larry, thanks for taking the time to field all these questions.  I have just one more: when will recert paths for other specialties be made available?

     

    Larry:

    Our plan is to roll out learning paths for all specialties requiring recertification - that's MCSE and MCSD - over the next year. So, stay tuned. 

  • |

    Welcome fellow tech rock stars!

    At the beginning of this year we challenged people around the world to kick start their year off right by taking the Know it. Prove it. Learning Challenge. After the huge response of over 58,000 developers, IT professionals and students who improved their skills through one of the eight learning challenges, we launched the Know it. Prove it. Certification Challenge which is all about validating your skills.

    When you get down to it, that’s what it’s all about – KNOWING your stuff, and PROVING it out.

    As we hit the end of April, we’re launching a new Know it. Prove it. initiative. This time around, we’re billing it as a technology tour and are opening it up to allow you to take your time rather than push you hard to get an intense workout of your brain cells in a short amount of time.

    Think of February’s Know it. Prove it. Learning Challenge as sort of like the high intensity exercise regime you might find in Crossfit or Insanity. Which lets you think of Know it. Prove it. Build and Know it. Prove it. Ignite as a slow burn for your brain. Each of the two challenges revolves around one of our top tier technology conferences. Build is launching this week in San Francisco and is primarily all about development. Ignite is next week in Chicago and brings together a bunch of learning around infrastructure, the enterprise and other more IT professional focused topics like security and mobility.

    KiPi Build and KiPi Ignite capture the essence of these conferences, giving you a taste of high quality training in one of the core learning paths that attendees will experience, and framing it with the challenge aspect that was so successful in the original Know it. Prove it to give you that extra push to get your learning hat on.

    In the coming days, I’ll bring you more details about certificates (yes!), DVLUP rewards (yes!), and more (who’s up for a mystery challenge?), all on the KiPi blog, but for now I simply want to encourage you to get started.

    Head to www.knowitproveit.com and sign up. Choose a challenge and get started with the courses. Join me and the thousands of others who want to improve their skills, try something new, or simply challenge themselves to get things done.

    Rock on, KiPi tech stars.

  • Microsoft Certified Professionals represent one of the largest and most important communities among Microsoft conference attendees. This is the party to celebrate the collective technical expertise and achievements of the MCP community.

    Date: Tuesday, May 5, 2015

    Time: 7-10 PM

    Place: Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

    There will be food, drinks, exhibits, photo ops, and giveaways! Our featured Learning Partner, Global Knowledge, will be treating you to a round of their signature cocktail, too.

    How do you get in? You must have a special MCP party wrist band.There are three ways to get a wrist band:

    1) If you’re a current MCP, bring proof of your MCP credential to our booth in “Microsoft on Microsoft.”

    2) If you’re a prospective MCP, take an exam on Monday or Tuesday at Certification Central.

    3) Need to learn about Microsoft certification options? Be among the first 20 attendees to arrive at one of our theater sessions in “Microsoft on Microsoft”. The times are: Monday, 12:05-12:25pm, or Tuesday, 12:35-12:55pm.

    Bonus fun! If you're on Instagram, we'll be having some fun and prizes with it. During the party, we'll also be looking for a few rock star MCPs to possibly join us in Redmond for some special events, so get ready to ham it up in front of a video camera. See you soon!

     

  • |

    What first caught my attention about the Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) community beyond anything else was how passionate the MCTs were about their community. Every single member I talked to, despite being from different geographical locations from all over the world, loved coming together, catching up, and supporting one another. It was the first time I had been to an MCT event, and the energy was undeniable.

    This was back in the fall of 2014, and I was still new to the world of Microsoft. At that time, one of my responsibilities was to attend the 2014 North America MCT Summit, an event where trainers fly in from around the world to learn the latest about the program from Microsoft, teach each other best practices, and much more. More specifically, my role at the event was to cover it for Born To Learn. Of course, me being me, I brought my video camera along to get some interviews. As I spoke with the folks at the conference, I found that they were simply some of the most passionate and caring people I’d ever met. It was an incredible experience to meet all of the MCTs who attended.

    Related: The next North America MCT Summit is happening in September 2015! Learn more here   

    This got me wondering, “Why do MCTs like being MCTs?” I was curious so I decided to ask some people in the trainer community and here's what they said: 

    Question: What’s your favorite part about being an MCT?

    Armando Lacerda, MCT

    Interacting with people who love technology and are eager to learn new stuff is what I enjoy. As an independent consultant I face many challenges and many specific scenarios, one at a time, but in the classroom we have this storm of scenarios and ideas flowing in every session. It is very exciting and beneficial.

    Rachel Jones, MCT

    Being an MCT provides the ability to stay current with state-of-the art technologies by providing resources and access to a community of like-minded individuals.

    Beth Canterbury, MCT

    As with any professional certification, it represents and endorses my knowledge and expertise, as well as my affiliation with Microsoft—of which I am very proud!

    Thanks to Armando, Rachel, and Beth for sharing their thoughts with me! Please keep an eye out for more MCT answers in the future.

    Learn more about becoming a Microsoft Certified Trainer.

  • Experienced attendees of Microsoft conferences know the onsite study hall is *the* place to go for complimentary learning resources. Along with our featured Learning Partner Global Knowledge, we are again bringing study hall to Ignite 2015. Find it on level 2 of Lakeside. Come and take advantage of the exclusive offers. Stay and get advice or answers from an MCT Ambassador.  

    Here’s a quick preview of what you’ll find in the study hall: 

    Free practice tests
    Use them as self-assessments or rehearsals. You can take as many practice tests as you want during Ignite week, for free, thanks to MeasureUp. Find them on all stations in the study hall.

    Free access to Safari Books Online
    Browse the huge online library or go straight to an MCT-curated collections. Ignite 2015 attendees can receive free 30-day access to Safari Books Online. Sign up online in the study hall.

    NEW: MCP Virtual Backpack
    Keep your luggage lighter and the planet greener. Browse and select your favorite certification and training resources right from the study hall computers. Send your own selections in a "virtual backpack" to yourself to review later or share with a friend, via email or SMS!

    KiPi: Ignite Edition
    Focusing on a particular Ignite content track? Want to follow up with more online training after sessions? We’ve mapped out learning paths for you in “Know It, Prove It” Ignite edition. Check them out and sign up at http://www.knowitproveit.com .

    Reminder: All MCP exams are half price during Ignite! Get certified onsite for just US$75.00 per exam. To schedule an exam, visit http://www.microsoft.com/learning and use promo code “ignitena” during checkout. (More detailed instructions here.) Or visit us at Certification Central to sign up.

    Featured Microsoft Learning Partner @ Ignite 2015 Study Hall

  • It wasn’t that long ago that I became a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) after completing the Instructional Skills class at the 2011 North America MCT Summit (NA MCT Summit). What I didn’t realize then was how much this new (to me) MCT community would change my career, education, and relationships. There are so many MCTs spanning many different technologies. Some work as in-house company trainers, some as learning center trainers, and others as independent contractors. Although we are all individually different, as a community we have a lot to offer to each other and to Microsoft.

    Having the time to network with MCTs, Microsoft Learning (LeX) staff, and supporting sponsors at the NA MCT Summit helped us build our community at an accelerated rate. I learned new technical skills, how to teach a specific course or technology, and how to become a better trainer.

    Each year I have made it a point to not miss this event. I have been fortunate enough to be asked by other MCT community members to help plan the event. What do I like about it? Well, here are my five top highlights.

    Networking

    You have the perfect environment to meet face-to-face with like-minded MCTs, Microsoft Learning team members, Microsoft Learning Partners, MCT Summit sponsors, and more. Do you want to make a career change, go from being a staff trainer to an independent trainer, write exams, speak at premier tech conferences, or something completely different? This is the event to make the connections needed to take that leap! I know firsthand, as having these networking resources helped me take a big leap last year from being an in-house training manager to an independent training contractor. With the support of this community, I have had many successes with virtual/onsite classes, speaking about Microsoft Certifications at technology conferences, publishing online learning videos, and writing quiz question content.

    Keynotes

    Hear directly from Microsoft Learning on how the MCT program is evolving and what technology changes are on the roadmap horizon. Last year, Alison Cunard, the General Manager for LeX, gave a very informative keynote.

    Don’t be afraid to speak up. Microsoft needs to hear what we have to say. They like to hear our ideas and will implement as many as they can. We had over 20 LeX staff attend the NA MCT Summit last year.

    Breakout sessions

    Remember that leap I mentioned? Well, it could be a technology track leap. Technical sessions are a great time to step out of your comfort zone and leap into a new technology like Azure, Microsoft Dynamics, Power BI, Windows PowerShell, SQL, and many more.

    Instructional skills

    If you or someone you know is interested in becoming an MCT, I highly recommend the Instructional Skills course. I may be a bit biased being that I attended this class back in 2011 and am now one of the many instructors facilitating such (there’s the full disclosure). Not only do you get to know 15–20 other prospective new MCTs prior to the Summit actually kicking off, you also get to know more about the program, community, resources, training best practices, recommended classroom technology, courseware, class evaluations, and hosted labs from many experts.

    Free exams

    Have a certification exam or two on your list of 2015 goals? Why not take these at the NA MCT Summit? Getting ready to take that career or technology leap previously mentioned? This is a great opportunity to take a shot at the exams.

    Each year, when possible, we partner with Microsoft to offer an evening of free exams.

    Is your employer covering your expenses to attend the NA MCT Summit? If so, this is definitely a value-add to support the investment.

    Last year, NA MCT Summit attendees took almost 200 hundred exams in one evening.

    As the leader for the NA MCT Summit and on behalf of my esteemed planning team members, Paige Rodgers and Michael Corkery, we would like to invite you to join us September 28–30 in Redmond, WA for the fifth annual community-driven North America MCT Summit. This year's Summit is a collaborative effort between the Summit planning team and LeX. We are holding the event on the Microsoft campus.

    Please visit the NA MCT Summit page for more information. Registration for the MCT Summit is live!

    I look forward to meeting you and welcoming you to the MCT community.

    Heather Fitzpatrick Severino

  • MCPs,

    Our first MCP Insider “Ask Me Anything (AMA)” featuring Jeffrey Snover and hosted by Jason Helmick is now up and ready to watch!

    For those unfamiliar with him, Jeffrey is a Distinguished Engineer and the Lead Architect for the Windows Server Division at Microsoft. He’s also the inventor of Windows PowerShell. Along with PowerShell MVP and AMA Host Jason Helmick, during the MCP Insider session, Jeffrey answers tons of questions from the MCP community and gives live demos on solutions in PowerShell.

    Find your question and see the answers from Jeffrey and Jason

    Due to the amount of content we were able to record, the video is split into two modules on MVA. Each module is indexed by question and time stamped so you can jump directly to a specific question or a topic. Below is the link to the video; click the blue bar on the right of the video to see the indexed questions in each module.

    Ready to watch the video?

    Follow this link to Microsoft Virtual Academy to get started watching our first MCP Insider AMA with Jeffrey Snover and Jason Helmick.

    Once again, thank you for submitting your questions! Please let us know what you think about the video and if the content is valuable to you as an MCP. Please leave feedback on the MCP Insider forum.

    Thanks,

    Pat Thomas
    MCP Program

  • Who doesn’t love a good sequel? Back in December, we launched the Hour of Code course using TouchDevelop to help introduce millions of students around the world to the basics of computer science. Microsoft Learning Experiences (LeX) joined the Computer Science Education Week and Hour of Code initiative and put our skills to the test on Monday, December 8.

    In case you missed the excitement here in Redmond, you can see how LeX performed by checking out this photo album.

    Now on to the big news. We don’t want you to lose momentum from your Hour of Code efforts, so we are thrilled to announce the latest course with TouchDevelop. Drumroll please…announcing the availability of Learn to Code with CODExist: The Birth of Bot!

    Here’s the deal. In the first course, you had to make small fixes to a game where a crazy robot was trying to make it through a maze of wacky obstacles. This next course—the sequel—takes you to the next level. Forget the tutorial, this is your chance to build a game from scratch—not just fix it.

    Take a step toward coexistence with code—CODExist!

  • Even with the growing popularity of online, on-demand learning resources, technical professionals everywhere still rely heavily on books for learning and exam preparation. Whenever Microsoft Press releases something new or run a sale, whether for paper or ebooks, the responses from the MCP community are always enthusiastic. With that in mind, we are happy to again bring Microsoft Press with us to Ignite.

    There are two places to find Microsoft Press books at Ignite:

    1. The Microsoft Certification & Training booth – Located at “Microsoft on Microsoft”
      Here you can browse many titles, and chat with the Microsoft Press team from Pearson. We will have complimentary copies of a book on Azure, available to all attendees. You could even enter to win prizes!

    2. Certification Central – Located at Lakeside
      Here you will find more certification focused titles from Microsoft Press, such as the very popular Exam Refs. Check them out during the week. Have a seat in the study hall, flip through the books, and have a chat with Microsoft Certified Trainers. (Don’t forget to register for an exam at 50% off plus Second Shot!)

    Ignite 2015 is just a little over 2 weeks away! My next blog post will be all about the onsite study hall and the resources you’ll find in it. In the meantime…

    Do you have Microsoft Press books around your desk now? Which book have you been reading most recently? Do you have a favorite Microsoft Press author?

     

  • Here at Microsoft, we believe access to learning opportunities for critical technical skills empower developers in the global workforce to be competitive and successful in our mobile-first, cloud-first world. 

    As part of this effort, Microsoft launched the App to Cert program worldwide to the entire Microsoft Certified Professional community in November, 2014.  The program benefits software developers from organizations of all sizes, from hobbyists to those working in large enterprises.  App to Cert allows developers to leverage the work they have already done building real-world applications to earn credit toward certification.  We’re partnering with Microsoft Developer Support experts to give developers an opportunity to prove their real-world technical skills and earn Microsoft certification while they do so.

    Instead of a traditional path of three knowledge-based exams, the AppToCert program allows candidates to earn the Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) certification by following just three steps:

    • Passing a technical review of their software applications with a Microsoft engineer
    • Publishing the applications in the Microsoft Windows Store
    • Passing a single Advanced technical certification exam

    As a result of the program, developers can save hundreds of dollars and months of exam prep time in earning their certification.  You only pay for one exam (instead of three) and all of your effort ties back to the work you are already doing.  And in the end, the final review is not just a paper review – you end up with an app in the Microsoft store! 

    This is truly a performance-based alternative that provides a seamless path to certification, while aligning to the work you are already doing.

    First International Graduate


    The App to Cert program now has our first international graduate, Arif Najar, who is currently studying for his Master Of Computer Applications degree in his last semester at Kashmir University in India. picture of arif

    “I thought I should do the App to Cert program so I would have a great chance to expand my knowledge of App development and create apps for the store that would benefit not only me but all users,” Arif said.  He successfully completed his app review, published the app in the Windows Store, and passed Exam 485 to earn his MCSD: Windows Store Apps using C# credential.

    “I was inspired to create something to go beyond the default music app in Windows 8, I saw something missing in it,” Arif said.  “You couldn’t add music from any other location other than the Music Library to the playlist.  I thought I could create a playlist that would enable users to add music from any location on their devices.” 

    Arif’s Super Media Player Plus app can be found here in the Windows Store: http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/dbe891e9-4798-4428-9a34-8a1d7d59cbca  

    “I am very happy I got this broader exposure to app development,” Arif said.  “I would encourage other aspiring developers to take a look at the App to Cert program as a great way to evaluate and validate your development skills.” 

    We’ll be offering the App to Cert program through June, 2015, so please visit the App to Cert site today so you can get started on your own exciting journey. 

    Read the story of the first graduate from the App to Cert program. 

  • Continuing in the series of ACE NewsBytes covering the questions posed by the viewers of my webinar interview with Greg Shields from Pluralsight, this one covers those related to value of certification. This is a hot topic, and I expect even more questions from our loyal followers to help us better understand what you're thinking on this topic and what we can provide to help you build a business case with your manager, team, organization, etc. to get certified!

    Here are the questions that I answer in this edition:

    • What are the benefits of getting certified with Microsoft? What ‘edge’ does someone who is certified have over someone who is not?
    • How do certifications differentiate you from others?
    • How are we educating hiring managers about the meaning and relevance of Microsoft certifications?
    • How is Microsoft helping those who have our certification find jobs?
    • How does the process works after you get certified? Is there a way that clients/employers can verify your credentials?

    Watch this ACE NewsByte as I shed some light on the real value of certification!

    As a reminder, in our first installment, we answered your questions related to exam preparation and alignment of learning content to exam content. In the second installment, we discussed question formats/item types, in the third installment, we discussed questions about scoring, and in the latest installment, we discussed exam development.