The Story of Exam Development – Part 1

Found this interesting article from the fine folks at: http://borntolearn.mslearn.net.  Have you ever wondered how a Microsoft certification exam comes into being?  Well, here is part of the exam development process – enough to ignite your curiosity? Below is a description of the first three phases of the twelve phase process (yes – there will be more coming later).

Phase 1: Determining the Need for an Exam

Exam development starts with a need for an exam. The Microsoft internal business partner, BPS, performs market research to determine the need and value of a certification in the marketplace. Input from market surveys, hiring managers, and MS product groups are considered when identifying which exams should be created. Once a need has been established, BPS communicates this to the ACE.

Phase 2: Defining the Content Domain
Microsoft will determine the area that an exam will cover, which will become the “Objective Domain (OD).” To create the OD, Microsoft works with external subject matter experts (SMEs) who help to define the important functions and tasks that users of the product must be able to perform to be considered competent. A good OD meets the following criteria:

  • Objectives (tasks) cover all relevant skills and no critical skills are missing.
  • Objectives are measurable, performance based, and map to the exam tier (TS or PRO).
  • Objectives are clear and concise.
  • Clear delineations between groups of objectives (called “functional groups”) can be made.

Phase 3: Blueprint
The blueprint ensures that the content of the exam reflects the relative importance of the tasks specified in the OD. During the blueprinting process, SMEs rate the importance and frequency of each objective and functional group in the OD.

More blogs coming later with the rest of the exam development process.

-Randy Muller

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