Free Certification Exams

Free Certification Exams

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<warning> This is a long post </warning>

Want to see if you’re ready to develop for the Azure platform?  Do you have what it takes to create Web apps using ASP.NET, JavaScript, AJAX and Silverlight?  What about desktop apps using WPF?  Perhaps you're the service developer using WCF or maybe you're good at data access with ADO.NET.

Ever tested your knowledge on these topics?  Want to?

I have just the opportunity for you.

I know some of you are just waiting for the announcement while some of you may find this page through a search engine and have no idea what I’m talking about.  Whatever brought you here is not important at the moment.  What is important is that I am providing advanced notice of upcoming exams for Visual Studio 2010 and .NET 4. 

Why is this worthy of your time?  If you decide you want to take one, or more, of these exams, it’s important to know what you’re up against and what it will cost you. 

First things first.  Cost. Simple. You don’t have to pay anything to take these exams.  Absolutely, 100% free, no charge, take ‘em while you can.  There are no catches, no caveats, no tricks.  Free is free in this case.

In case you doubt me, let me explain what a beta exam is and why we are offering it for free.  During our exam development process, we make the actual exams available, at a Prometric testing center, for no charge.  This is a step that helps us increase exam quality by having industry experts evaluate each question, by taking the exam, and providing feedback to Microsoft.  We use your feedback to fix, replace, or scrap questions that are technically incorrect, not relevant, etc.  You help us create a better product for your fellow developers that will have to pay for the exam.

Some common questions and answers are provided here;

1) How much does it cost to take a beta exam? – Absolutely nothing but your time.   There is no charge.  Nothing from Microsoft or Prometric. 

2) Is this a real exam? – Yes it is.  Even though the questions are not scored at the time you take the exam, they are real questions and the exam is real.  If you pass the exam, you earn the certification just the same as if you took it in a non-beta environment.  This means you don’t get a pass/fail or score immediately following the exam, but you do get notified 8 to 10 weeks later because we move slow in getting the final scoring in place.

4) What is the main difference between a beta and non-beta exam, besides cost? – The beta exam will show you questions that have not been through a final QA check.  You are that final QA check.  Non-beta exams expose you to 40 or 45 questions and you have a total of two hours to complete it.  The beta exam could expose you to as many as 125 to 150 questions and take up to four hours.  (bathroom breaks permitted).

5) Who is eligible? – The prep guides will go into more detail about the target audience for the exams, and the links to those will be forthcoming, but, If you use .NET 2.0, 3.5, or 4, and Visual Studio to create software applications using the technologies included in the .NET framework, you are eligible.

6) Why is this beta different from others? – In the past, we have focused our beta invitations on a small set of subject matter experts.  We want to expand the beta offerings even more to industry experts who haven’t taken an exam yet, are considering it but don’t want to invest the money until hey know what the exam is all about, and to get a larger set of experts providing the feedback to help drive quality.

7) In the past, I have tried to register but the exam slots were all full.  How will this be any different? – We set a maximum limit on the number of beta exams that can be delivered.  This is necessary for various reasons, some obvious and some not, but I won’t be going into those here.  To alleviate the issue of the exams filling up, we are increasing this maximum limit to address two problems, not enough open seats and no-shows.  That’s right, people actually register for an exam and then don’t show up to take it.  Even it is free.  No-shows result in exam seats being unavailable to someone who wanted to take it but could not. 

8) When will these be available? – All but one exam will be available between the dates of March 31, 2010 to April 20, 2010.  Mark your calendars now!  We will also be opening registration earlier for these as well.

9) What exams are we talking about?

70-511 TS: Windows Applications Development with Microsoft® .NET Framework 4
70-513 TS: Windows Communication Foundation Development with Microsoft® .NET Framework 4
70-515 TS: Web Applications Development with Microsoft® .NET Framework 4
70-516 TS: Accessing Data with Microsoft® .NET Framework 4
70-519 Pro: Designing and Developing Web Applications using Microsoft® .NET Framework 4

70-518 Pro: Designing and Developing Windows® Applications using Microsoft .NET Framework 4 will not be available in this time frame but should be available in the April time frame.

10) How do you sign up? – In a little while, I will be making a post to this blog again with the link to the prep guide, Prometric’s web site for registration and the all important beta exam codes that change that cost in your shopping cart to $0.

As always, if you have comments, questions, or suggestions, please start the dialog here.

Gerry

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  • Hi Gerry

    Thanks for the info.  Just curious about the upgrade exams (yes I know they aren't done through the beta process).

    What is the Enterprise exams?  Are there any further details available on that which explain the other certifications that you get if you do an upgrade?

  • Hi Gerry,

    Its nice that beta exams are available now!

    I am just wondering where will I be able to find the topics of the relevant exams?

    Cheers

  • Gerry,

    Are there going to be similar Beta Exams for the upgrades of the 3.5 to 4.0 certifications?  Currently I have the Windows, ASP.NET and Enterprise MCPD's.  I am wondering if I should try these Beta Exams or hold off for the Upgrade versions?

    Adam

  • Hi Damien,

    The is no Enterprise certification or exam in the VS 2010 certification track.  We will be doing some market research to better understand what an "Enterprise Developer" is in relation to current and new technologies.   SaaS, Cloud Computing, and Azure are some big contributors to what we are reviewing as a part of this effort.

    We just didn't feel that an MCPD Enterprise was the correct thing to do this time around without supporting research to ensure we are targeting the correct audience and that it provides those with the credential, a proper certification that maps to the job role and what industry expects.

    Gerry

  • Hi Roy28,

    I will be posting the preparation guides to the Microsoft Learning web site shortly.

    The links will be provided here when I announce the beta codes for he exams.

    Gerry

  • Hi Adam,

    We do not hold beta deliveries for the upgrade exams.  The reason is that the upgrade exams are composite and contain material from the requisite MCTS and MCPD exams.

    Once those exams go through their beta phases and the final items are selected, the upgrade exams are created and the content from each exam is included as necessary to create the upgrade exams.  As a result, the material has already been through a beta process and doesn't require another pass.

    Gerry

  • Hi Gerry,

    Really looking forward to taking these betas, can't wait for the sstudy guides

    Cheers

    Dave

    Also i spotted a typo on this post

    "Perhaps your the service developer using WCF or maybe your good at data access with ADO.NET."

    should i think be

    "Perhaps your the service developer using WCF or maybe you're good at data access with ADO.NET."

  • Hi Dave, thanks for the typo heads-up.  Fixed it.  :-)

    The team is working hard on getting the training kits ready to go.  They will cover the MCTS exams as in the past but looks like there won't be any for the Pro level exams.

    But, Pros don't need books right?  Isn't it all on the job experience?  :_)

    Gerry

  • So would you prefer that only experts on the subject matters register for the beta exams?  I am only mid-level on general ASP.NET 2/3.5 development, a little winforms and haven't really used WCF.  Should I still register for these exams?

  • Hi Ken,

    What I prefer and what people do sometimes are at complete opposites to each other.  :-)

    If you take a look at any of our existing prep guides, they indicate in the target audience portion, the type of experience we "recommend" that you have prior to taking an exam.

    Having said that, people look at "free" and think, "what have I got to lose?.

    Realistically, if you have some experience, by all means take the exam.  If you have no experience, like you metnion about WCF, it likely isn't worth your time or effort to sit an exam and find out what you already know, that you don't know the topic.

    Sounds like you are a great candidate for the Web developer exam.  The Windows exam covers more WPF than Windows Forms this time around though so you may want to think that one through first.

    These exams are not designed to prove you are an expert.  They are designed to show that have a base level of knowledge and skills.

    Gerry

  • Hi,

    Does the 70-536 exam remain a requerment in this new track ?

    Rob.

  • Hi Rob,

    70-536 is only required for exams on .NET 2.0 and 3.5.  It does not carry forward, nor is it required, for the .NET 4 exams.

    Gerry

  • What will be the equivalent to 70-536 for the .NET 4 tracks? Will there be a core .NET skills exam?

  • Hi John,

    There isn't an equivalent exam.  No core .NET exam for this set of certifications.  

    Gerry

  • Is there any course material/books recommended for these exams?

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