Microsoft Certification Test Guide

Microsoft Certification Test Summary
What: Microsoft Certification Exams are offered for dozens of different Microsoft programs.
Who: Students, business professionals and technology professionals can pursue certification.
Where: The exam is given at Prometric and Certiport test centers worldwide.
When: The test is offered year-round; test candidates can make individual appointments to test.
How: For security reasons, the exam format is not disclosed prior to test time.
Type: Exam types vary and are also not disclosed prior to test time.
Why: Professional certification demonstrates knowledge and competency in the field.
Time: No more than four hours
Language: English
Preparation: Test candidates should review individual programs and study guides in preparation for the exam.
Cost: $125

By: Erin Hasinger, Tests.com


All levels of information technology professionals can benefit from Microsoft certifications. Available for all skill levels from students to systems architects, Microsoft certification not only helps users keep their skills refined and up-to-date, but also helps demonstrate one’s superior knowledge of different Microsoft programs. The Microsoft Certification Program also benefits users by providing access to a member site and a network of other certified professionals.


Microsoft certifications are available for students, business professionals and technology professionals.


Students can become certified to become a Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA). MTA certification is an entry-level program that helps students demonstrate to prospective internship recruiters and first employers a commitment to professional development.


Business professionals can earn the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) designation. Designed for anyone who works extensively with programs such as Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, Outlook, SharePoint or Project, the certification demonstrates a mastery of the program in a business setting. 


Technology professionals can choose from the specialist, professional, master or architect series, depending on their level of experience:


-     Specialist Series

o   More than 30 certification exams are available, each testing one’s knowledge of implementation, building, troubleshooting and debugging of a particular Microsoft technology or product. Successful test takers earn the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist certification. Candidates will have to pass one or two exams and have one year of related experience.

-     Professional Series

o   The professional series includes Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD) and Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) and is designed to demonstrate skills such as operations and project management, planning and systems design. Candidates are eligible for professional series certifications with at least one year of professional experience and a specialist-level certification.

-     Master Series

o   The Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) certifications help IT professionals prove their abilities to design and implement technical solutions using programs such as Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, Windows Server – Directory and Microsoft Office Communications Server.

-     Architect Series

o   Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA) certification is for those with five years of advanced-level experience that includes leadership. Certification includes an interview with industry experts who will validate one’s competency level in technology. Certifications are offered in Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft SQL Server and Windows Server: Directory. In the future, Microsoft plans to add certifications for Microsoft Office Communications Server and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server.


Microsoft certification exams are administered by either Prometric or Certiport Test Centers worldwide. Test candidates must locate the registration information for their particular certification online at Microsoft.com and then register directly with the test center listed with the exam. Each certification exam carries a fee of approximately $125, which is payable upon registration to the test center. Once a test candidate is registered for an exam, they will be able to schedule an appointment to take the exam.


While the time limit for each exam will vary, no test should run longer than four hours. Microsoft, as part of its security measures, does not disclose how many questions each exam bears, and test takers will be required to sign a non-disclosure agreement prior to being able to take an exam. Similarly, Microsoft does not divulge exam formats, though they do indicate on their website that tests will be one of the following formats:

·         Hands on, lab-based

·         Multiple-choice, single-answer

·         Multiple-choice, multiple-answer

·         Drag and drop

·         Build list and reorder

·         Create a tree

·         Case studies

·         Hot area

·         Active screen

Following the exam, depending on the test, score reports may be made available immediately. Test candidates should check with the exam administrator about when to expect an official score report.


For more information on Microsoft certification exams or to find test preparation materials, visit the Microsoft Certifications Test Directory.