When Microsoft creates new (versions of their) software, they also create new exams to become certified. Part of this process includes testing the exams, determining the passing score, getting feedback and improving the exams based on the feedback (deciding which questions to use, removing questions, re-phrasing, etc.). More information can be found here.
To get feedback, Microsoft offers access to these beta exams for free. They do this publicly using by example the born to learn blog or privately using mail to select subject matter experts (SME) based on their profiles on Microsoft Connect. So if you’re interested in taking beta exams, update the information on the Microsoft Connect site to get private invites to the latest beta exams that are relevant to you. More information about the invite procedure can be found on the Born To Learn blog. Also keep in mind that public invites might be limited using a first-come, first served principle so check on a regular basis.
Advantages and disadvantages of taking beta exams:
+ It is free if you received an invite. Nowadays you can also take beta exams if you haven’t had an invite, but then you need to pay for the exam.
+ You have a chance to become one of the first people to become certified for the new software.
+ If you pass a beta exam, you passed it legitimately because there are no answers to download online.
+ Even if you fail the beta exam, you’ve still learned a lot about the new (version of the) software.
– In general there are no books available yet and you have to get all your information from hands-on experience, blogs, technet, websites, etc.
– The time frame you have to prepare for the exams can be (very) limited. For example with the last invites for the Server 2012 beta exams I had only 2 weeks to prepare for multiple exams.
– After you’ve taken a beta exam, it might take 2-3 months before you get the result.
Beta exams I’ve taken recently include those for Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, System Center 2012 and Office 365. I expect the next beta exams to cover mainly Office 15/Office 2013 related products like by example Sharepoint, Exchange, Lync. So if you’re interested in these beta exams be sure to keep a close eye on the beta exams and start working with and learning about the products already.
I hope this was informative and that it well help you and/or your company gain a competitive advantage.