Join Me for "Future of Certification" Focus Group at TechEd NA 2014

Larry Kaye

I'm at TechEd North America this week, and will be holding a special focus group for attendees on Thursday. In exchange for your time and feedback, I will provide you with a Microsoft exam voucher to be used at a Prometric testing center (good through December 31, 2014).

Below are the details. If you would like to participate, please sign up at Certification Central (Hilton Americas, 3rd floor). Thanks in advance!

Date: Thursday, May 15, 2014

Time: 2:30-3:30pm (Houston time)

Topic: The Future of Certification

Location: Ballroom F, Hilton Americas (2nd floor)

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    You need to get to London and talk to me.


  • dream in code
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    I wasn't able to attend TechEd this year, but would like to say, I am not a fan of the changes where exam content and scope change without changing the exam number. The content refreshes are quite extensive with new product versions being incorporated. This has two negatives: test takers could have already obtained training material for an exam and not be aware of the new scope (expecting an exam for SQL Server 2012, but actually being tested on SQL Server 2014, as an example). The other negative is the value of the certification in assessing a person's knowledge of an area. If one person takes the exam prior to the refresh (let's say for SQL Server 2012) and a second person takes the exam after the refresh (covering SQL Server 2014), both people have the same credential on paper, are represented the same to employers and peers, yet may not have equal knowledge.

    I'm not opposed to updating exam content or refreshing when the original scope and the product version are the same, but I am opposed when the refresh is for an entirely new version of a product. The right thing to do is to have a new exam number assigned with a separate credential earned.

  • Christopher Reed - MCT
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    @dream, I believe that you are not taking the bigger picture into account.  Both of these test takers will be required to pass a recertification exam every three years.  Thus, you have to stay up with the changes in SQL Server or you will eventually lose your certification.  Thus, the differences go away.  Now, if the employer hires someone and then fails to make their employee commit to maintaining their certification, that's on the employer.  Regardless, the changes as reflected by upgrades should not be considered a change in content (unless there are some very dramatic changes).  Thus, the exam numbering should only change, in my opinion, when the changes involve different content, not upgrading.  I believe that part of the intent of the recertification process is to allow for exams to stay longing in the market place, with both original and recertification being upgraded as the product is upgraded.

  • Sam Sohil
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    Hi, Can I please get a  Microsoft exam voucher if possible?



  • Christopher Reed - MCT
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    Sam, I believe that exam voucher was offered for attending this meeting last week at TechEd.

  • KevinM
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    @Christopher - Perhaps I am mistaken, but I thought that the recertification requirement only applied to the MCSE-level certifications.  If so then that leaves the majority of MCPs in the situation that @dream mentioned.

    Also, if anyone attended this meeting at TechEd (I couldn't make it to Houston this year), can you tell me if anyone mentioned anything about the MCM program or any sort of replacement for that?

  • Mark Price
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    Hi Larry and/or Christopher,

    Today I received yet another email from Microsoft's mailbot telling me: "Due by Aug 16, 2014: You are required to recertify or your certification will become inactive." "1 requirements needed (incomplete) Recertification for MCSD: Web Applications Exam 493"

    But the link gives: "Sorry, no results found for: exam 493"

    My job requires me to be certified.  I also have to re-certify on MCSD Windows Store Apps by 24th August. When will exam 491 be released? (the web site says February 2014!?!)

    Please either release the 493 and 491 exams VERY soon or announce that MCSD will require re-certification every three years (like MCSEs) instead of two. :-)



  • Larry Kaye
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    My thanks to all MCPs who participated in my focus group, and to my online colleagues for the continued discussion on the blog.

    @dream - As Christopher indicated, the recertification requirement is in place to ensure that individuals keep their MCSE and MCSD credentials up-to-date with the latest product versions.  With respect to SQL Server certification updates, my March 10 blog ( detailed the limited set of changes that were made to the MCSE-level exams 464-467, and provided resources for preparing for the exams.

    @KevinM - Per my comment above and the referenced blog, the exam updates to cover SQL Server 2014 were only made to MCSE-level exams; the MCSA-level exams were left untouched.  Per your inquiry on MCM, we are currently reviewing options for an advanced certification program and will share more information when available.

    @Mark - Microsoft Learning is currently conducting review of qualifying recertification activities for both MCSD and MCSE credential holders. We will release more details when available and ensure that, following that announcement, all affected candidates will have sufficient time to complete the activities to renew their certifications.

  • dream in code
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    @Christopher and @Larry: I completely understand the re-certification requirements and also understand within 3 years, that those two people used in my example will need to recertify. Please don't seem my example as the specific issue. I used it to illustrate one of many issues with changing content without a new exam number. The truth is, the content *is* different. You are testing on another version of a product. Another exam would be Exam 70-417 being changed to reflect new functionality in Windows Server 2012 R2. Or the tests now covering Visual Studio 2013 for ALM or the developer exams now covering MVC5 from MVC4, yet have the same exam number.

    My bigger concern is the confusion and the ability for a test taker to be able to prepare well enough. I shouldn't obtain study material for an exam and then have it be irrelevant or incomplete when I go to take the test. Yes, I can use Microsoft Virtual Academy rather than printed Exam Refs or e-books, but some of us already invested money and time into study resources. I should expect that if I am going to be tested on a version of a product that sure, new content can be added that covers the same version of the product, varying the questions to make a more comprehensive exam covering a product. But if you are testing a new version of a product on the same exam, it causes confusion for exam takers.

  • Larry Kaye
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    @dream - Thanks for the additional feedback.  We will continue to closely examine the impact of new product features when deciding to update existing exams or place new ones in market.  Iif updating exams is the most effective route, we will strive to provide sufficient study resources to cover those changes.  Our communications through Born To Learn and global MCP newsletters of upcoming changes and provision of side-by-side exam objective comparisons on the exam pages are essential additions to published exam reference guides and MVA courses.  I hope that you and your colleagues will continue to leverage these resources.