Microsoft’s *new* certification tests and study material

Microsoft has deprecated old certification paths and released new ones, in this post I will cover what changed and how to prep for the exams or just for work.

New certification tests

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.


Microsoft has beta-tests available for the following products.

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.


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.

303 and 304 will be deprecated in 31st of March 2022.

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.


I hope that also the Microsoft 365 Expert certification will go to the same direction and it would need only one test with a primary test and you would be an expert.

Now there is two and I personally don’t see the point for it. One harder test and one from the prerequisites would be enough.

Anyway there is more flexibility with M365 Expert and roles you can choose from compared to Azure. Which is kinda funny because there a lot of different components also in Azure.

But wait, there is also new option also for this.

Windows Server Hybrid Administrator Associate

Candidates for the Windows Server Hybrid Administrator Associate certification should have subject matter expertise in configuring and managing Windows Server on-premises, hybrid, and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) platform workloads.

This certification will be available on or around December 7, 2021.

Which is a good addition for many professionals in the community as it cover on-premises, Azure and Microsoft 365 services, identities and other hybrid aspects.

There many organizations still using Azure or M365 solutions in a Hybrid model all over the world.

Differences between different certifications levels

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 labs**100 minutes120 minutes
Associate and expert role-based exams that may contain labs**120 minutes140 minutes
Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) exams delivered through academic channels45 minutes50 minutes
Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) exams50 minutes60 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.”


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

CloudLabs currently has practice tests but in the coming months, CloudLabs App will be extended to bring new learning experiences including demosvirtual labschallenges within your Teams workspace.

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.

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 25 different Microsoft tests and it isn’t even much, many people have more, like insanely more but that’s not my goal.

At that time it was always in the lab but now with Covid (with a big probability after it also) it has been possible to do the tests in your own home.

You have to know the rules what kind setup you need from the room your are in. You can see the details for both test center and home in my previous post linked below.

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

I have heard that Labs have came back to the exams, I don’t know is this true for all or to some but watch out for those. 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 thru with all the questions.

Happy learning and passing your exams!

Author: Harri Jaakkonen

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