Microsoft Recertification Redux

To be clear, Microsoft isn’t certifying folks on the Redux JS library, at least not yet. The title of this article refers to the literary term redux, loosely meaning “restored”.  If you are reading this you likely know that Microsoft overhauled their certification process. Duane OdumThis was the first time I had to recertify since those changes went into effect and a lot of folks were inquiring about the experience.  So, without further ado…

Microsoft provides an overview of the certifications available for individuals to prove their expertise. However, if your organization is a Microsoft Partner you are probably going to be asked to take exams based on your organizations existing competency needs.  If you really want to go down that rabbit hole feel free to do so by checking out the Competency Partners information but this posts intent is to provide an overview of my thoughts of my first recertification under the new criteria.

To be honest, I  “cheated” the new system a bit by taking the 70-339 Managing Microsoft SharePoint Server 2016.  In years past I would have had to take quite a few exams to renew my MCSE: Productivity certification but in the new model you are only required pass one of the advanced level exams for your competency each year instead of passing 4 or so exams every 3 years. The caveat to this is that you must take a different exam each year which is how I got around the new system, at least for this year. I know SharePoint very well and did not have to do much to pass the 70-339 but next year could be a different story as I’ve already passed all the other SharePoint related exams.  Next year I will need to pass an Exchange or Skype related exam to maintain my MCSE: Productivity and based on my understanding of the new system that is the point…specializing in a single area of Microsoft products is all well and good but they want you to have diverse knowledge about the various products.

The 70-339 exam was like others I have taken in the past but there was quite a bit more of what I call “gotcha” questions than I recall on the other exams.  Those questions are the ones where if you miss one word in the question you are going to answer incorrectly or where the question is somewhat ambiguous. The exam consisted of a few case studies with roughly 10 – 12 questions, some scenario based questions with roughly 8 – 10 questions and roughly 20 – 25 multiple choice questions.

I spent about 10 – 12 hours studying for the exam over the course of about 2 weeks which worked out to roughly 1.5 to 2 hours every other day.  To prepare I took advantage of the vouchers and used the accompanying practice test as a study guide. I took the practice test immediately then spent my study time over the next couple weeks reviewing the ones I missed on the initial test in detail.  Important note: Please do not try to memorize the answers to the ones you miss as it’s extremely unlikely you will see them again on the real exam.

I ended up passing the exam first time without much effort considering I spend a significant amount of my time in Office 365/SharePoint Online doing development nowadays.  Which leads to my one gripe with the Microsoft Competency for Collaboration and Content: Why can I not also get my MCSD: App Builder and then count towards both the Administrator and Development path for Collaboration and Content? I understand Microsoft wanting to ensure partners have enough resources available to maintain the quality but the only reason I would get my MSCD would be personal desire…it’s not beneficial to my company’s partner status given the existing requirements for the Collaboration and Content competency.

Ultimately, I think the revamped process will prove to be a good move, provided Microsoft keeps it around long-term.  Plus, I have a pretty good working knowledge of Exchange so next year’s MCSE: Productivity recertification should be about the same amount of effort😊.

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