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What Types of Questions Can You Expect to See on Microsoft Exams?

If you read any of the exam profiles on this site, you will find that most of the exams contain a combination of various types of questions. This article explains in detail what the various question types are and provides sample questions to help you to know what to expect on an actual exam.

If you seek out information about what to expect from a Microsoft certification exam, you are likely to find that your chosen exam contains a variety of question types. For example, a single exam might contain multiple choice, drag and drop, and simulation questions.

Although there is no substitute for studying the material that you will be tested on, you can improve your chances of passing an exam if you know what types of questions to expect. Therefore, I want to take the opportunity to show you what the various types of questions found on Microsoft exams look like.

Multiple Choice

On most Microsoft exams, the vast majority of the questions will be multiple choice. Multiple choice questions fall into two categories.

The more common type of multiple choice question asks you to choose the correct answer from a few (usually four) possible answers. Here is an example of such a question:

You are an Exchange administrator for your organization. You want to the latency of mail flowing between two mailbox servers. Which cmdlet should you use:

  • Test-Mailflow
  • Get-MailboxStatistics
  • Test-OutlookConnectivity
  • Test-MapiConnectivity

The other type of multiple choice question that Microsoft uses is a question in which there are multiple correct answers. You must choose all of the correct answers (or none of the incorrect answers) to answer correctly. Microsoft does not award points for getting a question partially right. Here is an example of such a question:

You are an Exchange administrator for your organization You want to configure a Database Availability Group (DAG) for your Exchange 2010 mailbox servers. All mailbox servers are running Windows Server 2008 R2.

Which of the following configuration tasks should you complete when creating a DAG? (Choose all that apply. Each correct answer is a part of the solution).

  • Promote at least one mailbox server to act as a domain controller
  • Install two network adapters in each mailbox server (one for the MAPI network and another for the replication network).
  • Install two network adapters in each mailbox server (one for public folder replication and another for mailbox database replication)
  • Place each DAG member onto a different subnet
  • Configure each mailbox server to use IPv6

You will notice that the question above does not tell you how many of the answers are correct.

Hot Area

Hot area questions are similar to multiple choice questions, but rather than selecting a text-based answer, you are required to click on one or more “hot areas” within a graphic.

Hot area questions use a split screen. The actual exam question appears at the top of the screen and the graphic on which you have to click the correct answers appears at the bottom. The graphic is usually a copy of a dialog box from the software on which you are being tested.

In many cases, the question is too long to fit within the top portion of the screen, so pay attention to whether or not a scroll bar is present. You may have to use the scroll bar to read the rest of the question.

An example of a hot area question (minus the graphic) would be:

You are an Exchange administrator for your organization. You want to force users you are accessing their mailboxes from a public computer using Outlook Web App to view message attachments using WebReady Document Viewing. What must you do to complete the process?

Click on the appropriate area within the figure to answer the question.

Drag and Drop

Drag and drop questions usually involve dragging an object into its appropriate location within a table. The thing that makes drag and drop questions so tricky is that some objects may be used multiple times, while other objects may not be used at all. Here is an example of a drag and drop question:

You are an Exchange administrator for your organization. Your organization is expanding and you need to install Exchange Servers in branch offices. You must configure the ports on your perimeter firewall to allow data to flow between the various server roles.

Move the firewall ports that need to be opened to the data path that requires it. More than one port may apply to a data path. Not every port may be required.


Edge Transport to Edge Transport

Hub Transport to Hub Transport

Hub Transport to Edge Transport

TCP port 25

TCP Port 80

TCP Port 135

TCP Port 389

TCP Port 587

If this were an actual drag and drop question, you would drag the port numbers from the column on the left into the column in which they belong.


Reorder questions are questions which require you to place several items in the correct order. These questions start out by providing you with some information about the goal that you are trying to accomplish, and then display a graphic with two large boxes.

The box on the left contains a number of smaller boxes, each of which contains one of the steps required to reach your goal. The box on the right is empty. You must drag the steps from the box on the left into the box on the right and arrange the steps so that they are in the correct order. Here is an example of such a question:

You are an exchange administrator for your organization. One of your Exchange 2010 mailbox servers is failing. The disk containing mailbox database DB1 has failed. You must perform a dial tone recovery on the failed mailbox server so that users can continue to send and receive mail while the database is being restored. What should you do?

Place the correct steps from the left in the correct order on the right.

For this particular question, the steps that you must rearrange might include:

  • Restore the failed database to a recovery database
  • Use the Restore-Mailbox cmdlet and the Set—Mailbox cmdlet to re-home the user mailboxes to the dial tone database
  • Use the Restore-Mailbox cmdlet to merge the dial tone database’s data with the database that you have recovered
  • Switch the dial tone database with the recovery database
  • Create a dial tone database using the New-MailboxDatabase cmdlet


A simulation question is a question that requires you to complete a specific task by using a mockup of the software that you are being tested on. For example, if you were taking an Exchange Server exam, you might see a question like this one:


You are an Exchange administrator for your organization. You need to move all of the user’s mailboxes from a mailbox database named DB1 to a mailbox named DB2 using the Exchange Management Console.


Use the Exchange Management Console to move all of the mailboxes from database DB1 to database DB2.

Current State:

Both databases are mounted, and you have verified the integrity of each mailbox.


Use the simulation to complete the task(s) presented in this scenario. To start the simulation, click Show Simulation.

Build a Tree

Tree questions tend to be rare, but they do occasionally pop up on Microsoft certification exams. The essence of a tree question is that you are required to place list items into the nodes that are displayed within a tree. Because tree questions test your ability to categorize and arrange items, the questions are very similar to reorder questions.

Case Study

Case study questions are found on some of the more advanced Microsoft exams. Case study questions start by providing a long and detailed description of an organization’s current state and its goals. You can expect to receive ten to twenty questions based on this information.

The questions themselves are usually just multiple choice questions, but you have to base your answer on the case study information. Here is a sample of what a case study might look like:


The Contoso Corporation is a large, multinational firm with offices in San Francisco, Beijing, Helsinki, and Sydney. The corporation uses a single Active Directory forest, with each office acting as a separate site. There may be multiple domains within each site. The San Francisco office has migrated to Exchange Server 2010, but the other offices are still running a mixture of Exchange 2003 and Exchange 2007.

Problem Statement:

You need to complete an upgrade to Exchange 2010 in all of the offices around the globe.

Current System:

The Beijing office is using Exchange 2003. They have a single Exchange 2003 server that is hosting two mailbox databases named DB1 and DB2. The end users connect to this mailbox server using Outlook 2000 and Outlook 2003. Although no Exchange 2003 front end server is currently in place, the organization eventually wants to allow users to remotely access their mailboxes through a Web interface.

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