During the past week, three beta certification exams hit the Born to Learn blog. On Sunday (Aug. 28), Microsoft released 71-768 Developing SQL Data Models. On Saturday (Aug. 27), we got 71-765 Provisioning SQL Databases, and 71-762: Developing SQL Databases arrived on Friday (Aug. 26). Remember that MS exams use ID numbers that start with 71 when they’re in beta, and 70 when they’re in production, so these numbers will change when the exams are finalized and released for general uptake.
With this latest round of betas, all of the exams for the various MCSA: SQL 2016 flavors are now in development and/or beta test, as follows:
MCSA: SQL 2016 Database Development
Exam 70-761: Querying Data with Transact-SQL (development)
Exam 70-762: Developing SQL Databases (beta)
MCSA: SQL 2016 Database Administration
Exam 70-764: Administering a SQL Database Infrastructure (development)
Exam 70-765: Provisioning SQL Databases (beta)
MCSA: SQL 2016 Business Intelligence Development
Exam 70-767: Implementing a SQL Data Warehouse (development)
Exam 70-768: Developing SQL Data Models (beta)
What’s Next on the SQL Server 2016 Exam Front?
Obviously, we’ll be seeing beta announcements for other half of the MCSA: SQL Server 2016 slate in the next month or two. Normally, it takes three to five months for an exam to get through beta and into production. That’s because Microsoft waits for a “certain number” of exams to be taken to provide the basis for item analysis and selection for a production exam. No doubt it also leaves time to introduce new questions to replace those that fall out altogether during the beta period, or to tweak existing question items to make them more reliable indicators of skills and knowledge.
That’s why there’s no hard-and-fast time window during which exams remain in beta, and after which they go into production. That status shift is driven entirely by analysis, and comes when a stable and useful question pool emerges that can then serve as a valid test instrument.
Once the MCSA exam pool is done, then we’ll start seeing betas for those exams that fall under the MCSE: Data Platform and MCSE: Business Intelligence credentials. If I’m reading the tea leaves correctly, that will add four more SQL Server 2016 exams to the total pool (two more for each of the aforementioned MCSEs). Given that we’re looking late into 2016 or early 2017 before MCSA is complete, that means it will probably be sometime in the first half of 2017 that a complete slate of MCSE exams for SQL Server 2016 is ready.
The floodgates are opening now with the beta release of the first three such exams, with the remaining seven to follow between now and next March, at a rough estimate. If SQL Server certification is in your wheelhouse, that means it’s now time to get going on the next round of SQL Server exams.