Dissecting Your Upgrade Score Report: What Does It All Mean? Part 4

Liberty Munson (Microsoft)

To date, I've walked you through the traditional score report; in a future post, I will address some of the questions that you raised in your comments as well as some frequently asked questions, so keep asking them!

Today, let's turn our attention to upgrade score reports. Because upgrade exams are a little different than traditional exams, the score report is a bit different, making this worth a separate discussion.

The biggest difference between an upgrade exam and a traditional exam is that you MUST pass each component of an upgrade exam in order to pass the overall exam. Strong performance in one section does not compensate for poor performance in another like it does on our traditional exams. For example, on a traditional exam, if you don't know how to design Windows 8 client deployments but you do know how to design Windows 8 client configurations, your strong performance in the latter skill area will compensate for poor performance in the former.

However, it doesn't work like that on upgrade exams. If you don't know how to install and configure Windows Server 2012, you won't pass the upgrade exam (although you may pass the other components, if you fail the installation component, you fail the upgrade exam). As a result, we provide your scores on each component. It looks like this:

How should you interpret/use this information? Because you must pass each component, if you fail an upgrade exam, the best course of action is to focus on the skills assessed on the component exam(s) that you failed--those where you didn't obtain a score of 700 or higher. The skills assessed by each component exam are listed on the Exam Details page on /learning website. Honestly evaluate your skills against those that are being measured, and practice those that you believe are the weakest. If you achieved a score on a component exam just above 700, practice those associated skills as well to ensure that you pass that component again when you retake the exam. You must pass all components of an upgrade exam during a single administration; passing a component during a previous attempt doesn't "transfer" to the next attempt. If your performance is borderline in terms of passing, make sure you brush up those skills as well!

Another key difference between the upgrade and traditional score reports is that you do not get the "comparison to others" chart or the list of the "top 3 skills to prioritize" (if you fail); because each component contains between 20-30 questions, we have an insufficient number of questions for any given objective to be able to provide you with this level of detail and for it to be psychometrically reliable or practically meaningful. So, if you want this level of detail, you need to take the component exam. In fact, if you struggle with passing an upgrade exam, my recommendation is to take each component exam separately so you can get more detailed information about your performance. I can hear you now... "But, I have to pay to take each one." Yes, that's true, but providing this level of detail on an upgrade exam would be misleading, potentially suggesting areas for study that won't change your passing status on the next attempt or improve your skills in the content domain. Because we can ask more questions on the component exams, we can more reliably provide feedback on your performance in ways that are likely to help you improve than we can on upgrade exams given the limited number of questions that we're able to ask on upgrade exams.

Other than those two big differences, the content of an upgrade score report is essentially the same as that of the traditional score report.

A few more questions answered:

Why must you pass each component of an upgrade to pass the overall exam? Because you must pass each exam to earn the certification, you must pass each component of the upgrade exam. This ensures equivalence across the different ways that this certification can be earned. Essentially, we have confirmed competence in each of the significant content domains (i.e., each component exam) covered by the certification regardless if you take each component exam individually or the upgrade exam.

Based on some previous comments, I'm guessing that I'll get a question about "weighting," so... Are the components weighted? No. Although each component may contain a different number of questions (usually between 20-30), each has an equal weight in terms of determining your final passing status because you must pass each in order to pass the overall exam. In this example, each component represents 1/3 of the final passing result.

What other questions do you have about upgrade exams and their score reports?

  • Dancar
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    Even if you don't have enough questions on each topic within a section to provide statistically significant graphs, I'd appeariate at least a "Needs Improvement" on each objective where a question was missed.

  • 8b345bcf-dd06-4c3b-a4cc-d960299793c4

    "For example, if you pass 417, your transcript will show that you passed 410, 411, and 412 (the component exams that make up 417), not that you passed 417"

    No, it does not.

    I actually passed exam 417 last week, and have completed the MCSE, but my transcript very clearly shows exam 417 and the description "Upgrading Your Skills..."  -- It has no reference to exams 410,411, or 412 anywhere on my Transcript.  If you like, I can provide my transcript sharing code for verification.

  • Liberty Munson (Microsoft)
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    Hi Dancar,

    That was not my understanding of what's supposed to appear on your transcript. I'm looking into this.

  • Liberty Munson (Microsoft)
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    Hi Eric,

    A little checking shows that this is currently what appears on the transcript. When I started working at Microsoft eons ago, I was told that upgrades didn't show up on transcripts but the component exams did. Looks like I misunderstood. Thanks for pointing this out to me. Learn something new every day! For anyone reading these comments, I have updated the post to reflect this correction.