Exam Changes: What Should I Do?

By far, the most common question I’m seeing in the courses and FB Group is, “I’ve been planning to take exam 70-5XX in October. But now Microsoft has these new exams. Should I still take the old exam, or should I take the new? What should I do?”

Of course, the answer is going to be personal to you. You might be excited by the new exams and will happily switch to studying for that. Or you may be perfectly ready to take the existing exams, and don’t see any good reason to switch. So I can’t tell you what to do, just talk about what I would do.

Why You Want to Take the New Exams

Here’s some reasons why you might want to consider switching from the legacy exams to the new ones.

  1. If you pass these, you won’t have to take the same topic again for 2 more years. Microsoft has said they will start expiring certifications after 2 years. So expect to have to re-take exams every couple of years to keep your certifications. If you pass AZ-XXX now, you know that you’ll not have to think about it again until January 2021.
  2. The new exams have smaller scope. Instead of having to go into the testing center knowing “everything”, you only have to know half of everything to take the exam. So in this way, it’s a bit easier to study since you can go deeper on fewer topics.
  3. The content is roughly the same. There are very few topics on the new exams that were not on the old exams. 

Why You Want to Take the Current Exams

  1. Some of the new exams are still in beta. You’ll have to wait until January 2019 to hear if you passed or not. You’ll have to wait until then to know that you are certified. That’s 3 months away!
  2. You’ll have to take two exams instead of one for the same result. This means you’ll have to pay twice, and answer twice the number of questions. So it’s more effort to take the new exams from a studying perspective.
  3. If you pass the current exam, that remains on your transcript forever. Even if Microsoft deprecates the exam itself, the accomplishment of passing remains.
  4. If you pass the current exam, and qualify for an MCSA or MCSE, you also get to keep that certification for 2 years. As I write this, it’s the last quarter of 2018. So you can keep your MCSA and MCSE til the end of 2020, that’s not much different than the new exam.
  5. You can pass the current exam, and then take the “transition” exam, for the same result. The option of taking two tests for the same result is still open to you. You can take the current exam and the transition exam, and become a Certified Expert. 
  6. Your result comes immediately, and your MCSA and MCSE certification as well. No need to wait until the beta period ends.

The bottom line is that you lose nothing by taking the current exams and then the transition exam. You get the credential today, and get the new Expert one in the future. 

That’s my recommendation. Taking the existing exams and doing the transition gets you the credential you need today, and the credential of the future when it comes out too. Win-win!

But yes, it’s entirely personal. If you are happy to avoid the current exams, then the new ones are the way for you.