Microsoft certification changes and study materials

Microsoft rebranded their Learn during last year, now it has a fresh new look.

Future-proofing your career

Microsoft certifications are crucial component for you personally and for the organizations you present. Many organizations have good compensation for skilling-up and they will be a mandatory requirement in your scope that you are an SME in.

Even if you get compensated from passing, you should do it for yourself, like said they are personal and will follow you, not the organization.

Here is some numbers from Pearson VUE.

So, let’s see how you can skill-up your game!

Certification paths

Microsoft has had this certification poster for a long time and it keeps updating periodically. It’s a good place to keep you updated on the paths, you can access it from


Microsoft is trying the community with Beta-tests, as of today these are available inside Learn.

Beta exam scoring and results

When you complete a beta exam, you do not receive a score immediately because the scoring model for the exam is not yet finalized.

You usually receive your exam score about two weeks after the exam becomes available worldwide (known as “live”) this can be up to 16 weeks after you take the exam, depending on when in the beta period you took the exam. This time window reflects the comprehensive process used to evaluate the beta exam results, including statistically analyzing the data to evaluate the performance of each question and reading and evaluating all comments provided during the beta exam. The rescore process starts on the day that exams go live, and final scores are released approximately 10 business days later.

Participation in beta exams is voluntary, and Microsoft makes no promises or guarantees regarding the beta exam process, availability of your scores, or the timing of your results.

Evolving certifications

The landscape is always evolving, new features are coming and some are deprecating in the meanwhile. So meet these demands, Microsoft is evolving also.

First seeing the Azure Architect certification changes.


This test will cover both AZ-303 and AZ-304 but there is AZ-104 as a prerequisite to get the expert level certification.

So pass AZ-104 + AZ-305 and you will get Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification.

Why this change was made?

Well I think first of all that is was the only wise thing to do. AZ-104 was and admin test and the others were DevOps, Admins, networking, Database, HA and all other features in Azure test. So it was sensible from my point of view.

New certification tests

Last year I wrote and hoped in my thoughts that Microsoft would consolidate their tests and guess what, now they have done it.

Exam MS-102: Microsoft 365 Administrator (beta)

Microsoft is renaming the Microsoft 365 Certified: Enterprise Administrator Expert certification to Microsoft 365 Certified: Administrator Expert.

Exam MD-102: Endpoint Administrator (beta)

They are also renaming and consolidating the Microsoft 365 Certified: Modern Desktop Administrator Associate certification to Microsoft 365 Certified: Endpoint Administrator Associate

Exam MS-721: Collaboration Communications Systems Engineer (beta)

Deprecating the Microsoft 365 Certified: Teams Voice Engineer Expert certification with the new Microsoft 365 Certified: Collaboration Communications Systems Engineer Associate

Retiring ones

Microsoft 365 Certified: Teams Application Developer Associate

Microsoft 365 Certified: Teams Application Developer Associate certification is retiring and and the exam Exam MS-600: Building Applications and Solutions with Microsoft 365 Core Services, on March 31, 2023.

Exam MS-500: Microsoft 365 Security Administration

Microsoft 365 Certified: Security Administrator Associate is retiring on 30th of June this year. It was already taken over by the Security series.

Test itself

Couple of things about this area and the do not’s in during the test. If you have other tips on those tests, feel free to share.

Online test

When you are done with the booking you will get an email with the time and instructions how to attend.

  • Video and microphone must be on during the whole test.
  • Papers must not be near. They will check from the floor and ceiling also.
  • If there is a TV in the room the cables must be removed.
  • Any possible tattoos could be checked.
  • Phones and Smartwatches aren’t allowed to be reachable.
  • You have to take pictures of the room where the test is performed in the beginning, from all the sides.
  • You are not allowed to use mobile hotspot. If your network fails during the test, you don’t have a way to change the network connections. So you better make it available and working during the whole test.
  • Driving license or passport and picture on both sides before starting the test.
  • No one can enter the testing space or you could be revoked.
  • Don’t speak anything out loud, English isn’t my native language so I tend to read out loud the questions for my Finnish brain to realize them. This apparently isn’t allowed.

Classroom test

Some of you make like to go into to specific place to do the test and it’s completely OK, there will be some additional constrains to it though.

  • When performed on site, your eyeglasses are checked for cameras.
  • No drinks or food will be allowed.
  • Also no telephones or Smartwatches in the room. There is lockers where your can leave your personal stuff.
  • There will be note equipment in the test space, which is not allowed to take with you after the test.

Process for booking

If you decide to take your exam online, you’ll run a system pre-check to see if the computer you’ll be using meets the requirements before registering.

Book your test online. On the certification detail pages, scroll to “Schedule exam” and click on the exam provider button. You can still change the date and time 24hrs before the test.

Effective from 16th of January 2023, you can have a maximum of two Microsoft Certification exams scheduled at a time, either on the same day or on separate days.

Differences between different certifications levels

Consumed time

First the the times you can spend in the exams are different.

TypeExam durationSeat duration
Fundamentals exams45 minutes65 minutes
Associate and expert role-based exams without labs100 minutes120 minutes
Associate and expert role-based exams that may contain labs120 minutes140 minutes

Exam duration is the time your have for the exam itself and Seat duration means all the beginning NDA’s, questions before and after the exam.

All technical exam scores are reported on a scale of 1 to 1,000 and 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.”


Microsoft has three different inside their certifications:

  • Fundamentals
    Fundamentals certification is the entry-level. Fundamentals certification is earned by passing a single exam and is not required for Associate-level certifications.
  • Associate
    Earning an Associate certification shows that you know enough from a certain solution. You must pass the required exam(s) to receive an Associate certification.
  • Expert
    The Expert credential is the highest level. Requirements vary by product/technology. In some instances, there is a required prerequisite of a specific Associate-level certification.

What if you fail?

It’s completely OK and here are Microsoft official instructions for the retake:

  • If a candidate does not achieve a passing score on an exam the first time, the candidate must wait 24 hours before retaking the exam. At that time, candidates can log onto their certification dashboard and reschedule the exam themselves.
  • If a candidate does not achieve a passing score the second time, the candidate must wait at least 14 days before retaking the exam a third time.
  • A 14-day waiting period is also imposed between the third and fourth attempts and fourth and fifth attempts.
  • A candidate may not take a given exam any more than five times within a 12-month period. This 12-month period starts from the first attempt. The candidate is eligible to retake the exam 12 months from the date of their first attempt.
  • To take a given exam more than five times per year or to have the time between attempts waived, a candidate must have experienced one of the errors listed below and request an exception from Microsoft.
  • You cannot retake an exam that you have passed unless your certification has expired.
  • You must pay to retake the exam.

Practice tests and material

Spektra systems

They announced the general availability of CloudLabs app within Microsoft Teams. This is a really cool feature because people use Teams all the time anyways.

You can do free Fundamental training with them or order the full packages from Azure Marketplace


And of course there is Measureup which is the official practice test provider for Microsoft exams.

Material and courses

Microsoft has a long list of different Instructor-led courses.

Or you can just learn at your own pace.

Other vendors


With Udemy you have access to videos from world-class instructors and people can score the course so it’s easier for you to choose a one having highest score if preferred.

Udemy has an excellent mobile app and it works when your screen is closed. So you can only “Podcast” the video when walking with your pet or to work.

Udemy has prices as low as 9,99€ and they have a lot of offers all the time so be sure to check them and you don’t have to pay the full price for the course. Although the courses are so excellent that you even could pay more for them.

Once you buy Udemy course they will be available forever and updated when materials change. You will see your progress and can continue with mobile device if started with website and vice-versa.


If you want to have Enterprise grade content and everything available for you in the same portal, then Pluralsight is your choice.

Pluralsight has a test exams for your when your start your journey and it gives and your Skills IQ and roadmap what to learn more based on the exam.

This is really nice feature and it’s hasn’t make an mistake yet for my at least.

Pluralsight is way more expensive than Udemy is but if your organization provides it why not.

Moneywise and for Personal learning experience I personally would choose Udemy because of their frequent sales pricing but it really depends.

Mentoring and study guides

If you feel that you need more information on certifications, technical skilling or mentoring on MVP track, you can book time with me on these topics. During the past year I mentored over 150 individual people, I see this as the most profitable way for many of you. I also had a Meetup group but people tend not to ask question in these session. See more from my previous blog on this topic.

I have made Study guides for:

On top of these, I wrote a lot on different features regarding security and trying to be as detailed as humanly possible.

You can find all the study guides in my blog and for free, no money will be taken, ever. Although you can donate a coffee to me, if you want!

Final thoughts

It’s never too late to start learning, I started my personal certifications with Microsoft in 2006 with 70-270: Installing, Configuring and Administering Windows XP Professional then went for Server 2003 certifications. In total I passed 27’ish different Microsoft tests and it isn’t even much, many people have more, like insanely more but that’s not my goal, it’s not an competition for me.

At that time it was always on-site but after Covid it has been possible to do the tests in the safety of your own home.

At first the test could be a scary experience but read the questions carefully and find out what they are asking and you be fine.

Watch the time that you spend in different parts. There will be a certain time for the exam, so you have keep that in mind and see how many questions there will be in the beginning. If you don’t you could be not making it through with all the questions.

Happy learning and passing your exams!

Author: Harri Jaakkonen

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