Dissecting Score Reports: What Does It All Mean? Part 3

Liberty Munson (Microsoft)

So far, I have walked you though the introductory information, bar chart, "top 3 opportunities for improvement" list on fail reports, and the "comparison to others" charts in previous posts...what's left, you ask? Well, thanks for asking! Because it's looking like I've really only just begun... Based on your comments and questions to previous posts, this series is going to be require more posts than I originally thought because I think it will be more effective to address your questions in another blog post rather than a response to your comments! Keep asking questions and sharing your thoughts. It helps my understand the common misperceptions that people have about our scoring process.

But, for now, let's sally forth with what's left on the traditional score report...What are we really telling you in the text of the score report itself? All score reports contain the following information:

What does it all mean? Why should you care?

  1. Exam satisfaction survey: If you take the exam in English and have met Microsoft's contact rules (e.g., you have opted in to receive communications from Microsoft), you will be invited to participate in a survey about the exam. This survey is focused on the quality of the exam questions. Are they technically accurate? Do they reflect the skills and abilities that we said we were going to assess on the Exam Details page? Are we assessing skills necessary to use the technology effectively? Were they clearly worded? And so on. I look at this data EVERY WEEK to identify issues with our exams, so it is very very very important that you take a moment to complete this survey. We also have key metrics around this survey that are shared quarterly with our leadership team, so, seriously, if you're invited to participate, please do it. Your feedback can drive improvements to our exams!
  2. Non-disclosure agreement: Remember that you agreed to the terms of the NDA at the beginning of you exam. You cannot share any information about the questions that you saw on the exam. If anyone asks you about the exam, point them to the Exam Details page on our website. There is a fine line on what you can and can't say about the exam per the NDA. You can never talk about the questions or content on the exam; sharing specific details about exam questions violates the NDA. I would encourage you to avoid even talking about the number of questions or the exam time because both can change as we sustain our exams; if you share this information, it sets expectations that may not be appropriate for the next candidate who takes the exam. It would be better to simply say that Microsoft technical exams typically contain 45-60 questions, and, on average, take between 2-3 hours to complete.
  3. Data forensics and your score: We reserve the right to negate or change your score or passing status based on our regular data forensics analyses. Data forensics is a process by which we evaluate exam data to determine if any suspicious behavior occurred during the test session. If we find suspicious behavior, we take the appropriate action that may affect your exam result.
  4. Disclaimer: This is just a friendly reminder that the exam is designed to determine if you are competent in the content domain. It is not designed to provide diagnostic information about your skills. So, take the information that is provided in the score report about your strengths and weaknesses with a grain of salt. Although focusing on identified "opportunities for improvement" should improve your performance in the content domain or future exam attempts, there are no guarantees. The information in the score report is a good starting point for your consideration, but it's just that--a starting point. Speaking of which, the last bit of the traditional score report that I want to highlight is the information related to skill improvement.

All score reports provide some additional information and resources to help you improve your skills. If you fail the exam, you will be provided more detailed information about these resources:

I think this is fairly straightforward and don't really have much more to add here. Do you have questions about this that I can answer in a future post?

  • Jason
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    I have never seen an exam satisfaction survey. I would assume that rabble rousers are excluded from the emails.

  • Jeff Cook
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    Actually, #3 says a whole lot of nothing

  • Zeshan Sattar  (Regional Lead – UK)

    Very insightful series of posts. If you remember a while back you asked an open question about what we would like to see on our score reports and I gave you a very long wish list.

    One of the things that I would still love to see happen is the ability to have access to our score reports via the MCP or Prometric websites (in PDF format). If it happens with Certiport why can't it happen with Prometric?

    This would negate the need to worry about test centres having to print (and about 30% of the time they can't print or are running out of toner), it saves on paper/trees, and provides quick and easy access to our results (which for me go into an envelope and never to be seen again).

    In an era of where tablets, digital signatures and e-documents are becoming the norm, I'm surprised that we're still using paper score reports.

  • KevinM
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    @Zeshan:  I have kept the original copy of every score report that I have ever received, mainly because I'm a packrat.  But unless I'm reviewing a failure report to see where I need to improve, I've never looked back at any of them.  I couldn't tell you what my scores were on any but the most recent one or two tests, and to be honest I'm perfectly happy with the actual scores being lost to history.  Since we all know that scores cannot be used to compare candidates (i.e., a candidate who passes with an 850 is not necessarily "more qualified" than a candidate who passes with a 725), I see no reason to for the actual scores to be retained (other than for Liberty's forensic purposes).  A pass is a pass and a fail is a fail.

    At this point in my career, I have never had an employer or prospective employer ask to see verification of the certifications that I hold.  They've always taken my word for it, but if they ever wanted to see confirmation I could use the transcript sharing tool or provide a copy of the downloaded PDF transcript.  The last thing that I would want is for an employer or prospective to ask to see the actual scores.  There are two reasons for this:

    1.  There are a couple of exams that I know I passed with a fairly low score, at least by my standards.

    2.  I wouldn't want an employer or prospective employer to think that higher scores equal higher levels of qualification and have them use this as part of their selection criteria.  There are enough BS issues with automatic resume screen that goes on these days that I wouldn't want to hand someone more information that could be misused to by detriment.

  • Liberty Munson (Microsoft)
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    Hi Jason,

    Are you a "rabble rouser"? :) Seriously, have you opted in to receive communications from Microsoft? Do we have the right email address on file (this would be the one associated with your exam registration)? Those are the two most common reasons why people don't get the email invite. They either have opted out of MS communications or have not provided the correct email address. (I assume you're taking the exam in English.)

  • Liberty Munson (Microsoft)
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    Hi Zeshan,

    Getting score reports or something similar into your MCP profile is on our list of future upgrades. It is more complicated than it seems because of the required systems integration (which is why Certiport does it on their own site--you can't access it through Microsoft's portal). Just know that we have it on our radar... it's just not a high priority compared to other systems updates that are happening right now.

  • Zeshan Sattar  (Regional Lead – UK)

    @KevinM - Just like you, I'm a hoarder. So, yes I have every score report for every exam that I've ever done - I even look after the beta printouts that say that you will get your results within several weeks. But lately I've realised that I have a lot of paper and it would just be nice to get all in one place. As soon as Microsoft stopped shipping certificates for free, I stopped ordering them. But every so often I get asked by employer for a copy of my certificates and the digital PDF does the job just fine. Sure, I won't look at my score reports certificates all the time - but its nice to know that they are there!

    @Liberty - thank you for your continued efforts. Yes, I can imagine it must be a nightmare of an integration project! Would be cool to see it when it happens!

  • Dancar
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    Zeshan, Kevin,

    If you log into your MCP profile, you can set up a link with a password that you can provide to employers and prospective employers that will allow them to view - on a Microsoft generated web page - which exams you passed.  It does not show scores or failed attemts.   So it is possible to provid proof (better than a printout which could be forged) of exams you've passed to anyone who asks for it.