Frequently asked questions

Find answers to frequently asked questions about Microsoft Certification exams.

Exam basics

How many questions will there be on the exam?

The number of questions on an exam is subject to change as we update it over time to keep current changes in the technology and job role. Most Microsoft Certification exams contain between 40-60 questions; however, the number can vary depending on the exam.

Which testing formats and question types will be used in the exam I'm taking?

Because Microsoft continually introduces innovative testing technologies and question types, we do not provide for the specific item types that will appear on a given exam. To get a feel for what you might see on an exam, we encourage you to review some possible exam formats and question types.

How much time will I have to complete the exam?

Exam time varies based on the type of exam you take.

Exam time* Seat time*
Associate and expert job role exams 180 minutes 210 minutes
Job role fundamentals exams 60 minutes 90 minutes
Associate and expert job role exams that contain labs 180 minutes 210 minutes
MTA exams delivered through academic channels 45 minutes 50 minutes
MTA exams delivered through commercial channels 45 minutes 80 minutes
Dynamics exams with (with MB#-nnn numbering) 120 minutes 150 minutes
All other 70-nnn exams 150 minutes 180 minutes
MCSA exams 120 minutes 150 minutes
MCSE exams 150 minutes 180 minutes
MOS exams 50 minutes 60 minutes

*Note Exam time refers to the amount of time that you have to complete the exam. Seat time refers to the amount of time that you should allocate for the exam. It includes the time needed to review the instructions, read and accept the NDA, complete the exam questions, and provide comments after completing it (if you choose to do so).

How does Microsoft decide how many questions on a particular subject to include on the exam?

The skills measured on an exam are identified by subject-matter experts external to Microsoft (in other words, they are not Microsoft employees). This list of skills, called the “objective domain,” is the basis for exam development. The number of questions that measure each skill area is determined through the blueprinting process; sections of the exam measuring critical and/or more frequently performed skills will contain more questions than those that assess less important or less frequently performed skills.

Will the exam cover material that is not covered in the Microsoft training or Microsoft Press book I am using to prepare for the exam?

All learning materials related to a given job role are built from the same job task analysis. As a result, the learning content should be closely aligned to the exams. Keep in mind, however, that the learning materials are developed independently of exam content because the exams are intended to assess competence in the job role, not the effectiveness of training materials or learning. Because the exams are designed to assess your ability to apply skills beyond what was explicitly covered in the learning, the skills will be assessed at a higher level than was taught in the training. For some candidates, this can give the impression that the skill was not taught in the associated learning; however, all skills assessed on the exam are included in our learning options.

How should I prepare for an exam?

The best way to prepare for an exam is to practice the skills listed on the Exam Details page. Browse all exams to find the exam that interests you. Hands-on experience with the technology is required to successfully pass Microsoft Certification exams. The associated microlearning, online courses, and instructor-led courses are intended to train the skills needed to be successful in the job role, a subset of which will be assessed on the exam. However, because the exam focuses on application of those skills beyond what was taught in these courses, experience or practice in addition to training is strongly recommended prior to taking the exam. To start preparing, review the “Skills measured” section of the Exam Details page and evaluate your skills against what is being assessed on the exam. The best way to do this is to actually perform the tasks listed and note any challenges that you encountered. Practice until you no longer experience those challenges.

Microsoft Certified Trainers work with many candidates as they prepare for certifications. They often recommend the following steps to help candidates focus their studies:

  • Browse all exams to find the exam that interests you.
  • Print the Skills Measured section of the page.
  • Review the entire list. Think about each topic. If you are very knowledgeable on a specific topic, highlight the topic or cross it out.
  • Look at what is left. Now, start some targeted research. For each topic that you did not highlight, search the web for specific articles.
    • Use authoritative sources such as docs.microsoft.com, msdn.microsoft.com, technet.microsoft.com, and the Office 365 support center

You might also want to ask others how they perform those tasks, read white papers, MSDN, or TechNet to get additional information about the tasks that are included on the exam, and/or explore the resources provided in the “Preparation materials” section on the Exam Details page which will link to any available online courses, microlearning, options and a portal where you can find instructor-led training options in your area.

Additionally, Microsoft Official Practice Tests are available for some of our certification exams. These may provide more information about your specific strengths and weaknesses. However, passing a practice test is not a guarantee that you will pass the certification exam.

If you have taken the exam and not passed, prioritize the skills that you should practice by focusing on the content areas where your exam performance was the weakest and the content areas that have the highest percentage of questions.

How do I register for a Microsoft Certification exam?

Visit the exam registration page to find complete instructions.

Am I required to take an exam in English?

Microsoft Certification exams are available in several languages. However, candidates who must take the exam in English rather than in their native language can request an accommodation for additional time. Approval for extra time is provided on a case-by-case basis and needs to be requested in advance of the exam. This should be requested through the accommodations process.

What disability accommodations are available?

Microsoft is dedicated to ensuring our exams are accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities. For a list of available accommodations, please visit the accommodations requests section.

How much do exams cost?

Expert and Associate exams typically cost US$165 but are priced according to currency values in specific countries and regions. Exam prices are subject to change. In some countries and regions, additional taxes may apply.

  • For exact pricing for Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS), contact Certiport.

  • For all other exams, browse all exams to find the exam page, which includes the price of the exam.

How can I provide feedback about study materials or training for the exam?

If you have feedback about an instructor-led Microsoft training course, provide it directly to the instructor. If you have feedback about a Microsoft online course, complete the feedback form that appears when you finish the course. Microsoft does not review study materials developed by third parties and is not responsible for their content. If you have questions or comments about exam preparation materials developed by third parties, please contact the publishers directly.

How can I submit feedback about an exam question or exam experience?

If you have a concern about the technical accuracy of a particular item, please follow the Exam Item Challenge process.

To report a concern about a testing center or technical difficulties experienced during your exam, please contact customer service at the appropriate exam delivery provider.

To offer other types of feedback, please contact Certification Support.

To report a security concern, please contact mlsecure@microsoft.com.

Exam specifics

What types of questions appear on Microsoft Certification exams?

Because Microsoft continually introduces innovative testing technologies and question types, we do not provide for the specific item types that will appear on a given exam. To get a feel for what you might see on an exam, we encourage you to review some possible exam formats and question types.

Why is the case study exam format used?

The case study exam format uses complex scenarios that more accurately simulate what professionals do on the job. Scenario-based questions included in the case studies are designed to test your ability to identify the critical information needed to solve a problem and then analyze and synthesize it to make decisions. You can refer to scenario details as often as you’d like while you are working on questions in a case study.

After I complete a case study, will I be able to review the questions?

You may review the questions in a case study until you move to the next case or section of the exam. Once you leave a case study, however, you will not be able to review the questions associated with that case. When you complete a case study and its associated questions, a review screen will appear. This screen lets you review your answers and make changes before you move to the next case study.

Case studies are not timed separately from the rest of the exam. The number of case studies in an exam is noted on the exam introduction screen. Manage your exam time accordingly so that you can complete all case studies and all other sections of your exam.

What is the process for determining if an exam has been updated when a new feature or function is added or when something has changed in the associated technology?

We review our cloud-based exams every two months. Any changes that affect the objective domain and the existing questions are incorporated into the exam. Specifically, technically inaccurate questions are removed from the exam; some items are modified, and new items may be created to assess new, but related, skills.

Microsoft reserves the right to update content for any reason at any time to maintain the validity and relevance of our certifications. This includes, but is not limited to, incorporating functionality and features related to technology changes, changing skills needed for success within a job role, etc.

NOTE: Most questions cover features that are General Availability (GA). The exam may contain questions on Preview features if those features are commonly used.

How will I know if exam has been updated when a new feature or function is added or when something has changed in the associated technology?

We update the exam details page to notify candidates if/when this occurs. We also include information about such updates in our newsletters, blogs, and through other appropriate communication channels, and we encourage you to sign up for such communications if you would like to know about these types of changes to the exam content.

Because our primary communication with candidates about exam content is through the exam details page, we will update it as soon as we know that exam content will be updated for any reason; we strongly recommend that you review the exam details regularly as you prepare to take an exam.

If you are preparing for cloud-based exam, we strongly recommend that you regularly check the Exam Details page because we review these exams every two months and updates can happen as frequently as that.

Microsoft reserves the right to update content for any reason at any time to maintain the validity and relevance of our certifications. This includes, but is not limited to, incorporating functionality and features related to technology changes, changing skills needed for success within a job role, etc.

NOTE: Most questions cover features that are General Availability (GA). The exam may contain questions on Preview features if those features are commonly used.

Will the training kits, books, courseware, and other exam preparation materials be updated when the exam changes?

Microsoft makes every attempt possible to keep the training and exam aligned when changes occur; however, that is not always possible. Keep in mind that Microsoft exams are not intended as post-tests of any preparation or training product created by Microsoft or any third-party provider. Our certifications are designed to measure experience-based skills without bias regarding the way candidates obtain these skills.

The best way to prepare for an exam is to practice the skills listed in the “Skills measured” section of the exam details page. Hands-on experience with the technology is required to successfully pass Microsoft Certification exams.

Microsoft does not review study materials developed by third parties and is not responsible for their content or for ensuring that they are updated to reflect product updates. If you have questions or comments about exam preparation materials developed by third parties, please contact the publishers directly.

Why did an exam include material that was not covered in the Microsoft training or Microsoft Press book?

All learning materials related to a given job role are built from the same job task analysis. As a result, the learning content should be closely aligned to the exams. Keep in mind, however, that the learning materials are developed independently of exam content because the exams are intended to assess competence in the job role, not the effectiveness of training materials or learning. Because the exams are designed to assess your ability to apply skills beyond what was explicitly covered in the learning, the skills will be assessed at a higher level than was taught in the training. For some candidates, this can give the impression that the skill was not taught in the associated learning; however, all skills assessed on the exam are included in our learning options.

Microsoft works hard to ensure that some form of training material exists for all skills that will be measured on an exam. A list of these resources can be found on the exam details page.

What is a short answer question?

In the short answer question type, you solve a situation by writing several lines of code in the available text-entry area. You can choose from key word options which are provided for you to use in the code you write. Note that this is a general list and not specific to the commands required to solve the problem presented in the question. When you're done entering your code, you can check your syntax. The syntax checker validates your code entry for syntax errors but does not validate that your entry is correct.

How are the short answer questions scored?

We use exact string matches. Although we try to include all variations of formatting and code usage that could be considered correct, it’s possible that some are not included. This is why we include several ways to check your syntax.

  • We provide a syntax checker that you can use to validate the syntax of your code (e.g., SQL commands) and values (e.g., table names and variable names) used in your solution. Any syntax errors appear in the window next to the Check Syntax button. You may change your code and re-validate the syntax as many times as you want. Note that the syntax checker does not validate whether you have answered the question correctly; it simply validates the accuracy of your syntax.

  • We include a list of common command key words so that you can easily check your spelling. This is a general list provided for reference and is not limited to commands used in the question.

  • We designed the questions to minimize the amount of syntax that you must duplicate from the syntax already provided in the questions themselves

How many points are short answer questions worth?

Most of the short answer questions are worth one point. If the question is worth more than one point, we indicate the number of points that it is worth in the question itself.

Am I penalized for answering incorrectly?

No, you are not penalized for answering incorrectly. You simply don’t earn some or all of the possible points. For single-point items, you need to answer completely and correctly to be awarded the point. For multi-point items, you earn points for the parts of your response that are correct, and you don’t earn points for the parts of your response that are incorrect. We don’t deduct points from your score for incorrect answers.

Am I able to review all of my answers before leaving a section or completing the exam?

Before leaving a section or completing the exam, you can review your answers to most questions. However, there is a series of yes/no questions that describe a problem and a possible solution and then ask whether the solution solves the problem. Given the nature of these questions, you are not able to review your answers. In addition, after you move to the next question in this set, you are not able to change your answer. These questions are preceded by an overview screen that provides this information, and each question includes a reminder that you cannot return to the question or change your answer after leaving it.

Because you are not penalized for wrong answers and exams contain some items you cannot review or change your answer to, a good best practice is to answer every question before moving to the next one. Mark questions for review to return to them if you can.

Can I use the same exam to satisfy the core requirement for a MCSA and as an elective for the associated MCSE or MCSD?

No. The same exam cannot be used to satisfy the requirements for both an MCSA and an elective in the same MCSE or MCSD path.

Scoring and results

How and when will I get my exam results?

You will receive notification of your pass or fail status within a few minutes of completing your exam. In addition, you will receive a printed report that provides your exam score and feedback on your performance on the skill areas measured. The exam delivery provider will forward your score to Microsoft within five business days.

Beta exam results: Results for beta exams should be visible on your Microsoft transcript (if you’ve received a passing score) and on the exam delivery provider’s site within two weeks after the live exam is published.

If you pass the beta exam, you earn credit for that exam and any resulting certification. You do not need to retake the exam in its live version if you pass the beta version.

Who should I contact if I have questions concerning beta exam results?

If you do not see your score report online or receive your score report within two weeks after the date when the final exam is published, contact the exam delivery provider for more information on when your results will be processed. If you have questions about your transcript, please contact Certification Support.

Who should I contact if I do not receive my 25% voucher for taking a beta exam?

These vouchers are provided by the exam delivery provider and are sent to the email address that you used when you registered for the exam. They are sent approximately about 4 weeks after the exam goes live. If you do not receive your 25% discount voucher within 4 weeks of the exam live date, please contact the exam delivery provider’s customer service support team.

What does the score report look like?

The score report provides a numeric score for overall exam performance, pass/fail status, a bar chart showing performance on each skill area assessed on the exam, and details on how to interpret your results and next steps. Using this information, candidates can determine areas of strength and weakness.

What do the bars on the score report mean?

The bar chart shows your performance on each section, or skill area, assessed on the exam. On the left of the graph, each section of the exam is listed along with the percentage of the exam that was devoted to it. The lengths of the bars provide information regarding your section-level performance and map to the percentage of items that you answered correctly in that content area. Bars that are further to the left reflect weaker performance, and bars that are further to the right reflect stronger performance.

Because each section may contain a different number of questions, as represented by the percentages provided after the section name, the length of the bars cannot be used to calculate the number of questions answered correctly in that section or on the exam, nor can the bars be combined to determine the percent of questions that you answered correctly on the exam. This information is intended to help you understand areas of strength and weakness in the skill domain measured by the exam and to prioritize those skills that need improvement.

Can I find out whether I answered a specific question correctly or whether how I answered a specific question affected my pass/fail status?

No. Microsoft Certification exams are designed to measure candidates’ skills and abilities related to a given job role, not their ability to study or memorize specific questions that were on the exam. Qualified candidates will be able to pass this exam regardless of the questions asked. As a result, to protect the integrity of the certification process, Microsoft does not share information about the specific questions that were missed.

Does the score report show a numerical score for each section?

The score reports do not show a numerical score for each section. The score reports provide an overall numerical score to reflect pass/fail status only. As an alternative to providing a numerical score for each section, we provide score bars to show subject areas of strength and weakness.

Can I see a lower level of detail on my performance on transition or upgrade exams?

No, we do not provide a lower level of detail on your performance on transition or upgrade exams. We don't ask enough questions at the objective level to provide a reliable estimate of your ability for each of those skills. Providing this level of information would be a disservice to you because the result may indicate that you should work on skills that don't need improvement, or worse, suggest skills are strengths when they are not.

The bars on the score report show that I have scored more than 70 percent. Why didn’t I pass the exam?

Each section of the exam contains a different number of questions; therefore, combining the results across individual exam sections will not reflect your final exam result. In other words, there is no one-to-one relationship between the length of the bars and your pass/fail status.

Further, a common misperception is that you must answer 70 percent of the questions correctly to pass the exam because the passing score is 700; however, this is a scaled score. The actual percentage of questions that you must answer correctly varies from exam to exam and may be more or less than 70 percent, depending on the input provided by the subject-matter experts who helped us set the cut score during exam development and ongoing sustainment and the difficulty of the questions delivered when you take exam.

How are questions scored? How many points is each question worth? Will I be penalized for answering a question incorrectly?

Here is some general information about exam scoring:

  • Most questions are worth one point, regardless of what you must do to answer the question. If a question is worth more than one point, this information will be stated in the question.
  • There is no penalty for guessing. If you choose an incorrect answer, you simply do not earn the point(s) for that item. No points are deducted for incorrect answers.
  • Some questions on the exam may not be included in the calculation of your score. To gather data to update and improve the quality of each exam, we present new content to candidates without counting the results toward their score. However, as soon as we have the necessary data to evaluate the quality of the question, items that meet Microsoft’s psychometric standards will be scored. Microsoft will not inform candidates which questions are unscored; as a result, you should answer every question as if it will be scored.

Note that this scoring system is subject to change as Microsoft continues to introduce new and innovative question types. Microsoft will indicate if a question is scored differently in the text of the question.

How are exam scores calculated?

After you complete your exam, the points you earned on each question are summed and then compared with the cut score to determine whether the result is pass or fail.

What score do I need to pass an exam?

Technical exams: All technical exams are scaled such that the passing score is 700. Any score of 700 or greater is a "pass." Any score below 700 is a "fail." The actual number of items you need to answer correctly to pass is determined by a group of subject matter experts in conjunction with the Microsoft psychometrician during the development and sustainment of the exam. The passing score is based on the knowledge and skills needed to demonstrate competence in the skill domain and the difficulty of the questions that are delivered to a candidate.

Microsoft Office exams: All Microsoft Office exam scores are reported on a scale of 1 to 1,000. The passing score varies from exam to exam and is provided on the score report. The actual cut score percentage is determined by a group of subject matter experts using a process like that used to set the cut score for Microsoft’s technical exams.

Why does Microsoft report scaled scores?

Microsoft reports scaled scores so that candidates who have to retake a certification exam can determine if their performance is improving. The actual cut score (the number of items you need to answer correctly) is based on input from a group of subject-matter experts who review the difficulty of the questions in relation to the expected skills of the target audience. As a result, the number of items that you have to answer correctly varies depending on the difficulty of the questions delivered when you take the exam; this ensures that regardless of the difficulty of items you see, the evaluation of skills is fair—if you see a more difficult set of questions during one administration, the number of correct answers needed to pass is less than if you see an easier set of questions. As a result, providing a simple percent correct wouldn't provide useful information to someone who had to take the exam multiple times and saw different combinations of questions with different levels of difficulty.

Here’s an example of why scaled scores are a better indicator of how your performance is improving (or not) from one exam attempt to another. Imagine that the first time you take an exam, you see a set of easy items; unfortunately, you fail with a scaled score of 600, which is equivalent to a score of 65% correct. The next time you take the exam, you see a set of more difficult items. This time you pass the exam with a scaled score of 750, which is equivalent to answering 50% of the questions correctly. If we provided the percent you answered correctly, you would think your performance had gotten worse, not better, but it is, in fact, better because you answered a higher percentage of more difficult questions correctly than you did the first time.

Scaled scores simplify your ability to evaluate improvements in your performance over time. This is a standard practice across the certification and licensure industry.

What does my score mean?

If you pass an exam, it simply means that you have demonstrated competence in the skill domain. In addition, scores of candidates who pass cannot be compared to determine if one candidate is more competent than another; higher passing scores do not mean higher levels of competence. The same is true of failing scores; lower failing scores do not mean lower levels of competence. If you pass the exam, you have demonstrated competence regardless of your score; if you fail, you have not demonstrated competence.

Microsoft exams are designed so that the total test score can be used to make a pass/fail decision (in other words, to show whether the candidate has demonstrated competence in the skill domain measured by the exam). Our exams are not designed with the intent to provide diagnostic feedback about your skills, and steps are not taken during the exam development process to support that level of reporting.

If I receive the same score each time I retake the same exam, does this imply an error in the results computation?

No. Receiving the same score on multiple attempts does not indicate that the program computing the results is in error. It is not uncommon for candidates to obtain similar or identical scores on multiple attempts of an exam. This consistent result demonstrates the reliability of the exam in evaluating skills in this content domain. If this happens on multiple attempts, you may want to reconsider how you’re preparing for the exam and seek other opportunities to learn and practice the skills measured by the exam.

I scored zero in one of the sections. How is this possible?

The number of questions that measure each skill area is determined through the blueprinting process; sections of the exam measuring critical and/or more frequently performed skills will contain more questions than those that assess less important or less frequently performed skills. Given that the number of questions varies based on the criticality of skills measured, it is entirely possible for a candidate to answer all questions in a section with fewer questions incorrectly.

I experienced significant delays between some of the questions. Was my response recorded? Was it scored correctly?

A delay between questions does not impact the responses, scoring, or the time remaining to finish the exam. You should expect to experience a delay of up to a minute while your next question loads. The exam delivery provider’s software is designed to accommodate this. Your answers are recorded, and the exam will be scored correctly regardless of delays between questions.

Do the responses that I provide to the survey at the beginning of the exam impact the questions that I see during the exam or how my exam is scored?

No. The survey that you take at the beginning of the exam has no impact on the exam content or scoring. This is purely an evaluation tool that our exam psychometricians use to ensure the quality, validity, and rigor of the exam over its lifecycle.

I passed my first Microsoft Certification exam. Now what do I do?

Congratulations! To explore next steps and available benefits, see your benefits and exams dashboard. Sign in using the same Microsoft account you used to register for your exam. Please note that Certiport certification badges currently do not appear on the dashboard.

If I do not pass, what can I do?

Prioritize the skills that you should practice by focusing on the content areas where your exam performance was the weakest and in the content areas that have the highest percentage of questions. Additionally, you may want to review the resources provided on the exam details page, and our Study Groups, which can be found at the bottom of the individual exam details page.

When you are ready to retake the exam, schedule an appointment as you normally would. Note that you must pay for each exam you retake and follow Microsoft’s retake policy.

Where can I find additional information about my areas of weakness?

Although Microsoft Certification exams provide feedback about the areas where examinees need to develop their skills further, the exams are not designed to provide detailed or diagnostic feedback. We encourage you to review the “Skills measured” section of the exam details page, and honestly evaluate your skills against what is being assessed on the exam. The best way to do this is to actually perform the tasks listed; note any challenges that you encountered. Practice until you no longer experience those challenges. You may also want to ask others how they perform those tasks. Do they perform the task differently? Understand why they do. Read white papers, visit docs, etc. to get additional information about the tasks that are included on the exam. Explore the resources provided in the “Preparation options” on the exam details.

Finally, Microsoft Official Practice Tests are available for some of our certification exams. These may provide more information about your specific strengths and weaknesses. However, passing a practice test is not a guarantee that you will pass the certification exam.

What is the exam retake policy?

Please refer to the Security and retake policies to view the exam retake policy.

Can I request a re-evaluation of my score?

A re-evaluation of your score is unlikely to change your pass/fail status. Because Microsoft must ensure that candidates who pass exams and earn our certifications have demonstrated the required proficiency level(s) across the skill domain(s), the final result of an exam is rarely changed based on a re-evaluation of your exam results. Even if a question is flawed in some way, we cannot assume that you would have answered it correctly if it had not been. In these cases, we provide candidates with the opportunity to retake the exam free of charge. If you have a concern about the technical accuracy of a particular item, please submit an online request. An Item Challenge form will be sent to you.

How can I challenge an exam question?

If you believe a question on a Microsoft Certification exam is inaccurate, you can request an evaluation of that question using the Exam Item Challenge process within 30 calendar days of taking the exam. The evaluation process helps us identify and correct problematic questions and to update exams accordingly.

Will a Microsoft employee review and evaluate the exam question I am challenging?

A Microsoft employee will conduct an initial evaluation. If additional evaluation is needed, an independent subject-matter expert (technical and job-function expert) will also review and evaluate the challenge.

What if I don't agree with the evaluator's decision? Can I appeal it?

No. Microsoft applies a rigorous exam development process to ensure the technical accuracy, clarity, relevance, and objectivity of our exams. Furthermore, given the credentials of the independent subject-matter experts and the respect they garner from the IT community, we consider their evaluation final.

Can I learn about the rationale for the decision?

To help protect exam security, we keep the rationale for challenge decisions confidential although we will provide a general overview of the result. The evaluation remains a part of Microsoft records until the exam is retired. All feedback is compiled and carefully considered as Microsoft makes decisions on how to improve the overall quality of the exam.

If I do not pass an exam, can I have a refund?

No. Microsoft does not offer refunds for exams you do not pass or exam appointments you miss.

Exam security and integrity policies

Why am I required to accept a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) before I take an exam?

The Microsoft Certification Program requires candidates to accept the terms of an NDA before taking an exam. The NDA legally requires candidates to keep information related to exam content confidential. Requiring the acceptance of the NDA helps protect the security of Microsoft Certification exams and the integrity of the Microsoft Certification Program by legally discouraging piracy and/or unauthorized use of exam content.

What is cheating?

Cheating is any fraudulent activity that enables an unqualified candidate to pass an exam. This type of egregious misconduct negatively affects the integrity of the Microsoft Certification Program.

What are falsified score reports?

Falsified score reports are reports that Microsoft deems to be unauthentic or that deceive or defraud the Microsoft Certified Professional program in any way.

What happens if a candidate falsifies a score report?

If Microsoft determines that a candidate has falsified a score report, the candidate will be ineligible to take any future Microsoft exams and his or her certifications may be revoked.

What is proxy testing?

Proxy testing occurs when someone takes an exam for another candidate. In other words, the candidate has passed an exam without actually taking it. Engaging in proxy testing as either the test taker or the person who hired the test taker is a form of misconduct and fraud.

How can I identify a proxy testing website or organization?

The primary warning sign of a proxy testing website or organization is any guarantee that you will pass the exam without having to take it. Proxy testing sites indicate that they will provide a full credential if you send them your credit card information.

Why should I avoid proxy testing?

If a candidate engages in proxy testing, that candidate will be permanently banned or prohibited from taking any future Microsoft Certification exams and may be decertified from the Microsoft Certification Program. Additionally, test scores and certifications, if applicable, may be revoked. These actions may be taken even if the candidate did not intend to defraud the Microsoft Certification Program.

If you believe that a website or company provides proxy test-taking services, please inform Microsoft immediately by sending an email message to mlsecure@microsoft.com

What are "brain dumps," and are they legal?

A "brain dump," as it relates to the certification exams, is a source, such as a website, that contains certification exam content that has been fraudulently obtained with the intention to share it with or sell it to exam candidates. The content included in brain dumps is exactly the same or substantially similar to items appearing on the exam. Because the exam content was fraudulently obtained, using this type of material to prepare for or during an exam constitutes cheating. "Brain dump" providers are in violation of Microsoft intellectual property rights and nondisclosure agreements.

Why should I be concerned about "brain dump" sites and material?

If a candidate knowingly or unknowingly memorizes unauthorized content found in “brain dumps” in order to pass an exam, clearly, he or she will not have the requisite skills to effectively use and manage Microsoft software or systems. Eventually, his or her manager will identify this lack of technical knowledge and skill and take appropriate action. If Microsoft learns that a candidate used a “brain dump” site to prepare for an exam, this candidate will be permanently banned or prohibited from taking any future Microsoft Certification exams and may be decertified from the Microsoft Certification Program. In addition, test scores and certifications, if applicable, may be revoked. These actions may be taken even if the candidate did not intend to defraud the Microsoft Certification Program.

Many "brain dump" providers are fairly blatant in their messaging, descriptions of their products, and the intended uses, while others are much more subtle in their messaging and practices. As a result, candidates should be cautious about using exam preparation material that seems too good to be true.

If you think you have discovered a “brain dump” site with Microsoft content, please inform Microsoft by sending an email message to mlsecure@microsoft.com.

What kind of security should be at a testing center?

The testing centers are provided with security policies that must be enforced in order to acquire and maintain testing center status. Ongoing inspections ensure that each testing center maintains the security outlined by Microsoft and the exam delivery provider. In addition, proctors at testing centers are authorized to immediately take appropriate measures against candidates who violate testing rules. For specific information about the expectations for candidates, please contact the exam delivery provider. If you have a concern about the security of your exam experience, please send an email message to mlsecure@microsoft.com.

What kinds of impropriety can occur on the part of the testing center?

Testing center administrators act inappropriately when they fail to follow any security policies of Microsoft or the exam delivery provider. Examples could include, but are not limited to, overlooking inappropriate candidate identification; failing to ask for an ID from each candidate; failing to conduct periodic walkthroughs; failing to keep partitions between testing stations; overlooking the presence of crib sheets or electronic devices; providing answers or aid in any form with regard to any exam item; and allowing the release of Microsoft intellectual property in any form.

What happens to a testing center that participates in fraudulent behavior?

If Microsoft determines that a testing center has acted improperly or fraudulently, Microsoft has the right to cease delivery of all exams at that center.

Whom should I contact if I find a website that discloses Microsoft Certification exam information, or if I discover an individual who cheats on or sells exam questions and answers?

Send an email message to mlsecure@microsoft.com, and include as much information as possible about the situation and the persons involved. Although we appreciate anonymous tips, we often need more information to conduct a thorough investigation; if you are willing, please include your full contact information so that someone from Microsoft can contact you to discuss the details, if necessary. Microsoft has dedicated staff that investigates these tips. Because of tips from individuals like you, several websites have been terminated. Due to the volume of email we receive, you may not always receive a personal response.

If I report a security concern, can I remain anonymous?

Yes. All correspondence to mlsecure@microsoft.com can remain anonymous and we will not share your contact information with anyone. If you wish to include your contact information so that we can follow up for more information we will ensure it remains secure.

Performance-based Testing

What is performance-based testing (PBT)?

Performance based testing gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your skills by completing tasks in the technology. Today, this means completing tasks in a graded lab, but in the future, PBT may take a different form. For example, for those of you who are currently performing the job role, Microsoft is exploring ways to incorporate the work that you do every day into our certification requirements. For those of you who are not in the job role yet, we’ll continue to have other ways for you to demonstrate your skills through portfolios and graded labs. Microsoft is constantly innovating to ensure that we assess your skills and abilities in ways that align to how you actually get your work done. To view the PBT tutorial video, click here.

What can I expect when I complete the labs?

This type of question asks you to perform tasks in a virtual environment. You will see a screen that includes a virtual machine window and a Tasks pane. The virtual machine window is a remotely connected live environment where you perform tasks on real software and applications.

The Tasks pane lists the tasks you need to perform in the lab. You can expand or collapse each task with the + or - symbols. For your convenience, each task has a checkbox so you can mark tasks as you complete them. Doing this won’t affect anything in the lab or scoring. Nothing in the lab will indicate if you did not complete a required task, so you may want to keep track of the tasks that you have completed by checking the boxes.

After you leave a lab, you will not be able to return to it because scoring starts (in the background) as soon as you leave a lab. When you click Next, you will be asked to confirm that you really want to leave the lab. Clicking Yes will end the lab section, and the tasks will be scored.

How is the exam structured when it has labs?

When you launch the exam, you will see a screen that tells you how many items, case studies, and labs, including the number of tasks, that will be on the exam. Please make note of this information so that you can plan your exam time accordingly.

After you launch the exam, you will answer all of the traditional questions (for example, multiple choice, drag and drop, build list, etc.) on the exam as the labs load. The lab(s) will be the last section of the exam. Please note the following:

  • After you leave any section of the exam (e.g., case study or labs), you cannot return to it. However, at the end of most sections, you have the opportunity to review your answers (your exam may include a section that cannot be reviewed; this is noted at the beginning of the section). Exam time does NOT stop while you are reviewing your answers. Make sure you manage your time; pay attention to the time AND number of questions remaining.

  • Each exam contains one or two performance sections/labs with multiple tasks that you must complete. Research shows that tasks take approximately 4 times longer to complete than a traditional item. Please manage your time so that you have sufficient time left to complete the labs. We have ensured that candidates who manage their time wisely will have more than enough time to complete the lab(s).

  • The number of labs and tasks on the exam is provided on the overview page preceding the first lab. Read it! And then, manage your time accordingly.

  • Do NOT wait for tasks to execute before moving onto another task. In some cases, you need something to execute before you can complete another task, but this will be noted in the task, and there will be other tasks that you can be working on while that task executes. Don't lose time waiting for tasks to run. Move onto something that is not dependent on that task so you can maximize your exam time. In some cases, starting a task may be sufficient for scoring (for example, creating a resource in Azure); you can let the task execute in the background while you work on other tasks. We include a note in the task list telling you that you only need to start the task. You can move on to other tasks or even leave the section (move to the next lab if applicable or end the exam) without being penalized. Read the task carefully. Do what’s required to solve the problem posed in the task.

Why does an exam with labs contain traditional question types (for example, multiple choice, drag and drop, build list, etc.)?

For a variety of reasons, we cannot assess all critical skills with labs. For example, we can’t ask you to complete tasks that take more than a few minutes to run or that require significant resources; as a result, we will continue to assess those skills using question types that are more appropriate to the exam experience.

How many labs are on an exam? How many tasks are in each lab?

If an exam contains labs, it will have at least 1 lab. Each lab contains between 7–15 tasks. One of the introductory pages of the exam will show the number of labs and tasks.

How are tasks scored?

The tasks are scored on the end result. We do not care how you accomplish the tasks (for example, through the UI or using PowerShell commands)—only that you successfully accomplished the task. Complete the task as you normally would; the scoring script evaluates the end result on the key characteristics to determine if it was done correctly. For example, if the task was to add a user, the scoring script ensures that you added that user.

We do NOT require you to use a specific method to perform tasks. If you are more comfortable using PowerShell or CLI, instead of a GUI, that’s what we want you to use. We test you on the end result of your task—did you perform it correctly?—not on the method that you use to perform a task.

How many points is each task worth?

Most tasks are worth one point; if the task is worth more than one point, that information is provided in the task description.

How much time do I have to complete the labs?

Labs are not timed separately from the exam. At the beginning of the exam, the number of labs, case studies, and questions as well as the exam time will be provided. You must answer all questions, including completing tasks associated with any labs, in the time provided. Manage your time accordingly so that you can complete all activities that must be done.

Will I have enough time to complete the labs?

The labs are designed to be completed within the exam time provided. You will not be asked to perform tasks that execute long running operations or tasks that have many dependencies. If important skills need to be assessed that are based on tasks that require long running operations or have many dependencies, we will either assess them with traditional items, or, if possible, set up the labs so that these operations have already taken place, and then you will perform tasks that logically build on the outcomes of those operations.

How do you determine which tasks to include in the labs?

Like all questions on the exam, lab tasks map to the objective domain. We select the tasks that best lend themselves to lab-based assessment, that do not require long execution times or resources, and that can be completed within the anticipated time for test takers to complete the exam.

Why did I have to wait before I could start my lab?

It takes time to provision the environment in the cloud, and the environment you will access to complete the tasks is loaded only when the resources are fully provisioned. As a result, the exam begins with a series of traditional items (multiple choice, drag and drop, build list, etc.) that allows time to provision the labs and load them into the environment. If you answer these questions too quickly, you will have to wait for the labs to finish loading.

I have heard that labs can launch with a blank white screen. Is there something I can do to fix this?

If your lab launches with a blank white screen, try opening a new tab and navigating to https://portal.azure.com. Opening this new tab will resolve the issue most of the time.

I had some issues with my labs. How do I let Microsoft know?

If you run into issues with labs, please provide your feedback to Certification Support. Although we won’t be able to provide a specific explanation for your experience, our investigation will help us identify root causes and identify solutions that will improve the experience for everyone.

I had some issues with my labs. How do I request a rescore?

If you received a score, it is an accurate reflection of your performance before the lab issue. If you failed, a rescore will not change that result.

When will I receive my score?

Labs take longer to score than traditional item types. Because the labs appear at the end of the exam, you may not get your result immediately. It can take 30 minutes or longer to receive a score. You do not have to wait for the score report. It will be passed automatically to our certification database and will show up in your MC dashboard. This should occur within 24 hours of the exam delivery. If it does not appear, please contact Certification Support.

Do exams with performance-based questions take longer to complete?

Yes. These exams may take longer to complete than exams that do not contain performance-based items; however, our research suggests that most candidates complete tasks more quickly than they complete other item types. The amount of time allotted for each exam takes this into account.

Should I prepare for the performance-based exams differently than I prepare for other exams?

No. The skills measured remain the same regardless of the format of the question. The knowledge and skills assessed on the exam are listed in the “Skills measured” section of the exam details page. If you practice the skills, you’ll be prepared for any item type, including labs.

Are there any specific test center requirements for exams that have labs? Many test centers are not listed when I try to schedule the exams that have labs, but the same test centers are listed for exams that do not.

Exams that include labs require testing centers to meet certain internet connectivity requirements, so a smaller set of testing centers are available. As labs are added to more of the new role-based exams they will also be subject to the same set of testing centers. If you have specific testing centers in mind, contact the specific test center to learn if they can deliver labs; alternately, they will not be listed as available test centers once you select the exam. If that occurs, we recommend finding a different test center or taking the exam through online proctoring. Note: You may be able to take labs through online proctoring; however, that will depend on your bandwidth and internet connection.

Role-Based Certifications

How will the role-based certifications be named? Will they still be MCSA, MCSD, and MCSE?

Because we are making a significant shift in our certification program, we are moving away from the MCSA, MCSE, and MCSD acronyms. The certifications will clearly state that you are “Microsoft Certified” in the job role, and they will show the level at which the certification sits in our framework (fundamentals, associate, or expert).

What happens to the MCSA, MCSD, and MCSE certifications that I already have?

Nothing happens to the MCSA, MCSD, and MCSE certification that you already have. They remain on your transcript. The relevance of those certifications depends on your current (and future) job roles and how valuable that certification is to your manager and organization and to the work that you do.

Some MCSA, MCSD, and MCSE certifications are still available to earn. What will happen to these?

You can continue earning the MCSA, MCSD, and MCSE certifications as long as the exams are still available. As we retire the exams that are part of those certification paths, you will no longer be able to earn those certifications.

You’re retiring some exams that lead to MCSA, MCSD, MCSE certifications. What happens to my certifications when those exams retire?

Before the exams retire, be sure to pass all those which are part of the MCSA, MCSE, or MCSD certifications that you’re trying to achieve. If you do, you’ll earn the certification, and it will appear on your transcript. Nothing happens to the MCSA, MCSD, and MCSE certification that you already have. The relevance of this certification depends on your current (and future) job roles and how valuable that certification is to your manager and organization and to the work that you do.

With the goal to more closely align training and exams, are you reducing the amount of experience that people need to pass the exam or earn the certification?

No, we are not reducing the amount of experience that people need to pass the exams or earn our certifications. Training is designed to prepare people for the exams, but in of itself is likely to be insufficient. The questions on our role-based exams require you to apply the skills and knowledge acquired in training real world problems.

Academic pricing on exams

Can I get a refund if I initially registered and paid for an exam without verifying an academic discount, but I’m verified now?

No. If you decide to register and pay for an exam before you have verified your student status, you must pay commercial pricing and will not receive a refund. You must ensure that you are verified before completing your registration and payment.

Does my academic verification expire?

Yes. Your academic verification is only valid for 12 months. After 12 months, you need to repeat the verification process.

I’m an educator. Can I still receive an academic discount (in applicable countries) on my Microsoft Certification exam delivered in the commercial channel?

Yes. You need to follow the same process as a student. In other words, you must select “Student” as your job function in your Microsoft account profile, and you must verify your status through the same process as a student.

Who do I contact for questions regarding the academic verification process for Microsoft Certification exams?

If you have general questions related to exam registration or questions specific to a new or pending verification request, please contact Certification Support.

Accommodation Requests

How do I request an accommodation?

If you require special equipment or other accommodation when you take an exam, you may request an accommodation through Pearson VUE using their “Reasonable Adjustments Request System” https://rs.hgportal.net/amer/candidate. More details are provided in the Request accommodations section.

Why do I need to submit documentation?

The documentation that you provide describes your disability to the Pearson Special Accommodations team. Pearson has experts that determine the appropriate accommodation Your documentation ensures that the exam experience is adjusted appropriately. Someone with dyslexia, for example, is typically on a spectrum of severity and the exam accommodations are therefore appropriately adjusted for that level of severity as described in the documentation. This documentation consists of a formal assessment from a medical professional within the last 5 years. Someone with mild dyslexia may need 1.5 times the exam length, whereas someone with more severe dyslexia may receive 2 times the exam length or perhaps even have a reader. The intent is to make the exam session fair to the candidate considering their need while maintaining the validity and reliability of the assessment process.

I have documentation that is from more than 5 years ago. Why can’t I use it to meet the documentation requirements?

Disabilities change over time. They can become more or less severe. As a result, the accommodation that would be provided based on the outdated documentation may no longer be appropriate. The goal of the accommodation process is to ensure that you are given an accommodation that will ensure that your exam experience is as equivalent as possible to everyone else’s while maintaining the validity and reliability of the assessment process. The more up to date your documentation, the more likely VUE will be able to provide an accommodation that meets your needs.

I have a hearing aid/wheelchair/need an inhaler/etc. Do I need to special permission to bring that into the testing room?

This is considered a comfort aid and does not require pre-approval. Comfort aids will be allowed in the testing room upon visual inspection by the Test Center staff. Visual inspection will be done by examining the item without directly touching it (or the candidate) and without asking the candidate to remove the item, unless otherwise noted here.

I have a question that isn’t answered here. Where do I find the answer?

If you cannot find the answer to your question here, contact us via email at: accommodationspearsonvue@pearson.com.