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.


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  • Likely because I'm math challenged.  :-)

    I'll check that on Monday when I'm back in the office.  I take these values from the weighting sheet and I likely either missed one, or included the wrong value in one or two.

    It should total to 100%.  Thanks for catching this.


  • Fair enough Gerry regarding MVC coverage.  But it just goes to show how quickly the exams are out of date because of how long the cycles are on them. The exam objectives for 70-515 won't get updated for 3 or so years and I could easily see where web forms are obsolete because a better technology has replaced it (just like web forms did to classic asp).

    This has led me to post a question regarding a scenario today where someone would choose web forms for a new project over mvc because I can't come up with a valid one.

  • And now you see why it's so difficult for use to create a certification on Silverlight.  :-)

    While I agree with your sentiment about the technology coverage being out of date I will also point out another consideration.

    While ASP.NET in relation to MVC is like comparing ASP to ASP.NET, remember that not all developers worldwide use the latest and greatest.  There are still organizations developing and maintaining code on VB 6.  Our Visual Studio 2005 certification exams are still being delivered.

    Essentially what I'm saying is that in 3 years, these exams will be the old technology and a new set of exams and certifications will take their place, and will cover the newer technologies.

    It's a constant game of catchup and while there are those in the industry, such as yourself, that are early adopters and use newer technologies, there are still those who provide feedback that they want is to slow down and stop creating new exams for every version of the Framework and Visual Studio.

    There will always be a need to balance the possible with desirable.  That balance is never an easy one to obtain.

    Let me know some of the responses you get on your question and we can post them here.


  • Hi Gerry.

    Do we still need LINQ to SQL covered in ADO.NET exams? I thought it were deprecated.

    And for those who pass these beta exams, will they receive a special nomination of some merit? I think it does exists in regular exams.


  • Hi André,

    As far as I know, it is not deprecated.  It was only introduced in .NET 3.5 and is still available in .NET 4.

    At any rate, the subject matter experts agreed it is still important and deserves coverage on the exam.

    As for special mention when passing a beta exam, no.  You are given the opportunity to take the exam for free but there is no special recognition.  If you pass, you simply receive the same credential as if you passed the live version.


  • I'm still waiting for the link to be posted. I check back every day. While this is good for your page views, do you know when you are going to post the registration links so I can stop?

  • Hi Gerry,

    How about Windows Azure? will there be any Beta exam for Azure? I would like to take if there's any. Thanks


  • Um, no, I have no firm date set for the links.

    Just subscribe to the RSS feed on my blog and you will see the post when I make it.


  • Hi Euo,

    No Azure specific certifications in this round.



  • Hi Gerry,

    I have a MCTS certification for the web development. Would there be any upgrade beta exam(s)? Also can you please let me know when the prep guide and exam schedule will be posted.


  • Hi dattach,

    There will be upgrade exams but only for the MCPD certification.  There are no upgrade exams for MCTS exams.  Also, there are no betas for upgrade exams.

    The VS 2010 exams will be in beta in early April, the beta codes and announcements will be made here this week or next.

    Prep guides are avalable online now for the MCTS and MCPD, none for the upgrades yet.  They can all be found here;


  • Which exams do I need to pass in order to be

    MCPD: Web Developer 4

    I know that Exam 70-519 (PRO Web) and maybe Exam 70-515 (TS Web)

    Are 70-516 (ADO) and 70-513 (WCF) also required ?

    My doubt is because in the 3.5 version they where requered for MCPD Enterprise, but not for MCPD Web.


  • Hi Phil,

    There is no MCPD Enterprise this time around just as an FYI.

    For MCPD Web you will require these exams;






  • Gerry,

    Will there be a TS certification for Workflow?

    Is WPF combined with 511 or will there be a separate TS for it like in 3.5?

    When are the Sharepoint 2010 certifications expected?



  • Hi Titus, how have you been?

    Much to my own disappointment, there will be no TS for Workflow this time around.

    Yes, 511 is WPF/Window Forms in one exam.

    I don't have firm dates on the SharePoint exams yet but will post when I do.


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