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Upgrade Exams vs. Regular Exams RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hi Folks,

    If you hold an older certification, upgrade exams are a quicker and cheaper way of attaining a newer Microsoft certification than having to take all the exams of the standard certification route, hence saving time and money.

    However, in the past these upgrade exams were harder (sometimes significantly more so) than the regular exams. Is this still so? Thanks.


    Sunday, August 19, 2012 2:53 PM

Answers

  • As David hinted on, upgrade exams usually contain a subset of questions taken from each of the individual exams that make up a certification (I say “usually” because I’ve sat individual beta exams and then sat the upgrade exam for fun and got questions not covered in any of the individual exams I sat).  Furthermore, questions in upgrade exams generally target new product features (whereas individual exams generally target a mixture of new and carry-over features from previous versions).  These subset questions are then broken down into a number of individual sections representing the individual exams covered in the upgrade exam (i.e. if the upgrade exam covers two exams, there will be two sections).  If you fail any one of these section, you fail the whole exam. 

    e.g.

    Let’s say you’re sitting exam 70-454 (Upgrade: Transition Your MCITP SQL Server 2005 DBD to MCITP SQL Server 2008 DBD).  This exam contains two separate sections; one covering content from 70-451 (PRO: Designing Database Solutions and Data Access Using Microsoft SQL Server 2008) and the other covering content from Exam 70-433 (TS: Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Database Development).  Let’s also say that each section contains 25 questions and for simplicity you need to get 18 questions right in each section to pass the exam.  If you get 17 in one section and 19 in the other section, you fail the exam.  Furthermore, you also do not get a certification in the section you got 19 questions right in i.e. if you passed the section covering 70-433, you do not get that certification and vice versa.

    This can lead people to believe upgrade exams are harder as you generally can’t get as many questions wrong in each subsection as you can in each individual exam.


    When you see answers and helpful posts, please click Vote As Helpful, Propose As Answer, and/or Mark As Answer

    Jeff Wharton
    MSysDev (C.Sturt), MDbDsgnMgt (C.Sturt), MCT, MCPD, MCSD, MCITP, MCDBA
    Blog: Mr. Wharty's Ramblings
    Twitter: @Mr_Wharty
    MC ID: Microsoft Transcript

    Sunday, August 19, 2012 11:48 PM
    Moderator
  • Well, from my experience, I just don't agree with the first two points at all.

    I have found that the upgrade exams only contain questions from the exams that they represent. Keep in mind that upgrade exam test takers see a very small subset of the exam questions.

    However, I do agree with you, James, that upgrade exams are harder.

    It is also extremely frustrating and disappointing if you fail the upgrade exam, only to find that you passed most of the exams, failing only one of the subset exams. Your exam results will only show you which subset exams you passed or failed, not giving you detailed information about what you have to cram up on for each of the failed subset exams.

    Good luck on your certification goals.


    Best wishes, Davin Mickelson

    Monday, August 20, 2012 4:21 PM
    Answerer

All replies

  • The questions for the upgrade exams are actually taken from the individual exams that you'd normally have to take but in smaller subsets. These subsets of questions put together form the upgrade exam.

    Your exam results will tell you how you did for each of the individual exams that it allowed you to skip.

    Note that if you fail just one of the subsets, you fail the upgrade exam.

    Good luck!


    Best wishes, Davin Mickelson

    Sunday, August 19, 2012 7:12 PM
    Answerer
  • Hi Davin,

    Thanks for your reply. Your information was useful, as always.

    However, my question is whether passing upgrade exams was still considered harder than passing the individual exams that make up a new certification. I’ve never taken an upgrade exam, but anecdotal evidence suggests that upgrade exams are harder.

    For example, the 70-240 exam, to upgrade an MCSE NT 4.0 to MCSE 2000, was considered a killer. Similarly, exams 70-292, and especially 70-296, which were required to upgrade an MCSE 2000 to MCSE 2003, were considered difficult as well. Additionally, in the early days of MCITP certification, exam 70-649, a requirement for upgrading an MCSE 2003 to MCITP: EA was also considered quite hard.

    Given this background, I wanted to know if people still considered current upgrade exams to be harder than taking the individual exams that make up a new certification. Thanks.

    Sunday, August 19, 2012 9:06 PM
  • As David hinted on, upgrade exams usually contain a subset of questions taken from each of the individual exams that make up a certification (I say “usually” because I’ve sat individual beta exams and then sat the upgrade exam for fun and got questions not covered in any of the individual exams I sat).  Furthermore, questions in upgrade exams generally target new product features (whereas individual exams generally target a mixture of new and carry-over features from previous versions).  These subset questions are then broken down into a number of individual sections representing the individual exams covered in the upgrade exam (i.e. if the upgrade exam covers two exams, there will be two sections).  If you fail any one of these section, you fail the whole exam. 

    e.g.

    Let’s say you’re sitting exam 70-454 (Upgrade: Transition Your MCITP SQL Server 2005 DBD to MCITP SQL Server 2008 DBD).  This exam contains two separate sections; one covering content from 70-451 (PRO: Designing Database Solutions and Data Access Using Microsoft SQL Server 2008) and the other covering content from Exam 70-433 (TS: Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Database Development).  Let’s also say that each section contains 25 questions and for simplicity you need to get 18 questions right in each section to pass the exam.  If you get 17 in one section and 19 in the other section, you fail the exam.  Furthermore, you also do not get a certification in the section you got 19 questions right in i.e. if you passed the section covering 70-433, you do not get that certification and vice versa.

    This can lead people to believe upgrade exams are harder as you generally can’t get as many questions wrong in each subsection as you can in each individual exam.


    When you see answers and helpful posts, please click Vote As Helpful, Propose As Answer, and/or Mark As Answer

    Jeff Wharton
    MSysDev (C.Sturt), MDbDsgnMgt (C.Sturt), MCT, MCPD, MCSD, MCITP, MCDBA
    Blog: Mr. Wharty's Ramblings
    Twitter: @Mr_Wharty
    MC ID: Microsoft Transcript

    Sunday, August 19, 2012 11:48 PM
    Moderator
  • Hi Mr. Wharty,

    Thanks for your reply. You have certainly shed new light on this issue for me.

    I have summarized your response as follows:

    1) Upgrade exams often present "new" questions not covered in any of the individual exams.

    2) Upgrade exams generally target new product features (which might be unfamiliar).

    3) You need to pass every subsection of the upgrade exam to attain a pass.

    From the examples you've given, I believe I can conclude that upgrade exams are still harder than the individual regular ones. Thanks again for your help.

    Monday, August 20, 2012 12:06 AM
  • Well, from my experience, I just don't agree with the first two points at all.

    I have found that the upgrade exams only contain questions from the exams that they represent. Keep in mind that upgrade exam test takers see a very small subset of the exam questions.

    However, I do agree with you, James, that upgrade exams are harder.

    It is also extremely frustrating and disappointing if you fail the upgrade exam, only to find that you passed most of the exams, failing only one of the subset exams. Your exam results will only show you which subset exams you passed or failed, not giving you detailed information about what you have to cram up on for each of the failed subset exams.

    Good luck on your certification goals.


    Best wishes, Davin Mickelson

    Monday, August 20, 2012 4:21 PM
    Answerer
  • Hi Davin,

    Thanks for your reply. Sorry I wasn't able to respond to you sooner.

    You and Mr. Wharty don't agree with each other in every respect on this question, and that is great. The experiences of no two test takers will ever be identical, so that is to be expected. However, what you both agree on is that the upgrade exams do appear to be harder, and you've therefore answered my question.

    In answering my question, both you and Mr. Wharty have increased my knowledge since I've never taken an upgrade exam. I thank you both for your help, and I've voted both your posts and Mr. Wharty's as helpful, and marked your post and his as my answers.

    Thanks, once again, for your help.


    • Edited by James JT Taylor Tuesday, August 21, 2012 11:25 AM Corrected a misspelling
    Tuesday, August 21, 2012 1:32 AM