Just How Does One Prepare for Beta Exams without Preparation Materials?!?

Posted 31 Dec 2015 by Liberty Munson (Microsoft)

Another common question that I am seeing quite frequently in your comments to my beta exam posts is "how do I prepare for a beta exam?" For a number of reasons, exam development occurs much more quickly and is usually well ahead of the development of associated learning materials. Why? Because exams are independent evaluations of skills, we don't need to wait for the learning materials to be created in order to develop the exams. In fact, our goal is to have an exam in market as soon as the technology is released to the public. In order to do this, we create our exam questions as soon as the technology or service is stable enough for us to do so (by "stable," I mean that technology/service is unlikely to change significantly after we have spent time, money, and resources to write the questions... at least for a small window of time it takes to get the exam in market).

So, how do you prepare? Well, start by determining if the exam is right for you. Review the "Who should take this exam?" section of the Exam Details page. The Exam Details page can be found at the URL that I always include in my blog posts related to beta exam availability. Do you have the necessary skills and abilities to potentially be successful in this content area? Here is the MOST important thing you should remember about beta exams--they are intended for people who truly have the skills and experiences defined by that target audience description. Because of the limited preparation resources, you only have the possibility of being successful if you meet this minimum bar.

Do you have the minimum skills? If so, the next step is to review the "Skills Measured" section. Carefully, evaluate your skills in relation to those being assessed on the exam. Can you perform the tasks listed? If someone asked you how to perform the task, could you explain to them what you do and why? Actually perform the tasks listed in the “Skills Being Measured” section of the Exam Details page. Note any challenges that you encountered and keep practicing. Hands-on experience performing these tasks is essential to passing our exams. Practice, practice, practice, and then practice some more. Ask others how they perform those tasks. Do they perform the task differently? Understand why they do.

Finally, there may be learning resources available (although I should mention that this is rare for most beta exams). If any are available, they will be listed on the Exam Details page for the exam under "Preparation Options." We are working closely with our practice test provider to have practice tests in market as soon as the exam is live; at times, they will be available at the same time the exam is in beta. As a result, this may be an option as you prepare for a beta exams, but you shouldn't rely on it. In addition, you should review the learning options available at www.microsoftvirtualacademy.com. At Microsoft Virtual Academy, you may find learning activities that are related to the skills measured on the exam; MVA may not have a perfect fit training solution, but it might have options that are good enough. Any resource that causes you to think through the task and skill being assessed will help your learning process.

Beta exam preparation in a nutshell:

  1. Do you have the skills and experiences described in "Who should take this exam?"

  2. If so, which of the skills measured do you have? Which tasks can you preform? Which don't you have or can't you perform? Be honest!

  3. Practice, practice, practice

  4. Still can't do it? Ask experts how they perform the task. Understand how and why they do it that way. Are there any situations when they would perform the task differently? Why?

  5. Do a Bing search for white papers and MSDN and TechNet articles, or similar for other insights into those skill and the tasks covered by the exam. Explore MVA for training and learning options that are related to skills being measured by the exam.

  6. Take the exam!

  7. GOOD LUCK!!!