Home > Blogs > A Year in the Life of the MS Cert Exam Programs

On December 29, MS Psychometrician Program Manager for Microsoft Learning Liberty Munson posted her musings on the exam related activities that her organization undertook in 2011. It's an interesting and sometimes jaw-dropping laundry list of stuff, which I reproduce here (along with what I hope is some "pithy commentary"). Enjoy!

The post is intended to extend holiday greetings and cheer to those involved with Microsoft Learning and to provide a kind of "annual progress report" or "list of accomplishments" for Microsoft learning. It makes for interesting reading, so I reproduce it verbatim in italics and include my comments and observations in plain text alongside her list elements:

  • 12: New TS and Pro exams published A busy year for exam development, where half-a dozen is considerable, and 10 is a lot.
  • 4: New MTA exams published The new Microsoft Technology Associate program is already off to a strong start, with another half-dozen exams scheduled for release this year.
  • 6: New Office exams published Surprisingly, the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) program is Microsoft's biggest: at 10 million-plus, almost twice as big as Microsoft Certified Professionalss (6-plus million).
  • 10: New MBS (Dynamics) exams published Dynamics covers Microsoft's line-of-business (back office and accounting) applications, an increasing and important part of Microsoft's business application portfolio.
  • >4000: Number of candidates who took beta exams Most beta exams close out at between 200 and 400 candidates, so that's somewhere between 10 and 20 beta exams, or quite a few!
  • 78: Localized publications of our new exams in 12 different languages (not including English) Once exams in English are completed and vetted, the next phase is internationalization, which involves a lot of work. Not all exams get translated into all 12 languages, but the big, high-demand items do.
  • >400: (Re)publications of exams in market across all languages This is not new exams, but involves refreshes to existing exams (of which there are nearly 400 in the Microsoft portfolio) -- always a big job!
  • 13: Number of different item types--any or all could be on any of our exams (a year ago, this was closer to 3) I've blogged about this elsewhere, but this represents some interesting changes to the make-up, look, and feel of Microsoft exams, and suggests that even seasoned veterans will want to dig into the new, expanded collection of MS Question types (see my 12/19/2011 blog "Interesting Changes Coming to MS Cert Exams").
  • >5000: New items developed This might not sound like much, but MS spends about $5000 to develop any exam item that actually appears on an exam, and it goes through many stages of authoring, reviewing, and in-use analyisis before such things make the grade. MS spends HUGELY on this effort, and it shows. And for every item that makes the grade, 2-3 other items do not, so there's a serious work multiplier implied here, too.
  • >1000: Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) involved in the design and development of new certification exams (excluding beta candidates)! The SMEs (and I have been one from time to time) are what make exam items relevant, interesting, and sometimes even diabolical. Attraction and retention of top-notch SMEs insures quality exams, and MS is VERY serious about this effort.

Given all this activity, Liberty and her organization, as well as all the people who contributed to this effort, do indeed deserve a pat on the back. Count on interacting with the fruits of those labors the next time you drop into a testing center to take an MS certification exam!