Not ‘By Invitation Only’ Any More!
Normally, you have to hold a Microsoft certification of some kind and your e-mail address has to make its way onto a beta exam invitation list before you become eligible to take a beta certification exam. The invitation e-mail has long been the only way to find out about upcoming Microsoft beta certification exams and to obtain the information needed to reserve yourself a seat at Prometric. But if you know where to look, you can sidestep that process. Microsoft Learning runs a Beta Exam Announcements Blog where the same text that goes into the invitation e-mails gets posted for those in the know.
Right now, the following beta exams are underway (remember exam numbers for betas take the form 71-xxx where the final form will be 70-xxx, and xxx is a three digit number):
- 71-433: TS: Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Database Development 9/22-10/10/2008
- 71-403: TS: Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008, Configuring 9/30-10/24/2008
Thus, beta exam 71-433 will become 70-433 when it is finalized and goes “live;” likewise, 71-403 will become 70-403 as well.
You can also dig deeper into the blog to see which exams have gone through beta recently, so as to know what to expect to show up in final form some time soon. It usually takes 3-5 months after the beta is complete for the final, commercial version of the exam to go public. The best thing about beta exams is that if you can get a seat you can sometimes take them for free; always for a reduced fee. And if you pass a beta exam, it’s just like passing the real thing: it counts toward whatever Microsoft certifications you may be pursuing.
If you’re actively engaged in MS certification, I recommend you add the blog URL to your favorites or bookmarks, and visit it at least once a month. You’ll have a good idea about upcoming exams in the pipeline, and you will get an occasional chance to take a beta at lower cost or even no cost. It doesn’t get any better than that!