What do the numbers on Microsoft certification exams mean?

Occasionally I have been asked about Microsoft’s certification exam numbering and why all of the start by 70… Well, I have

decided to investigate on this issue and now I’m willing to share my discoveries.

Not all of them start by 70

Actually, although the most habitual ones DO begin with 70, not every Microsoft exam uses this prefix. Nevertheless, all of them do begin by 7. The reason is that in the first groups of exam Microsoft released a long time ago were numbered with 10, 20, 30… and when the product was already mature and ready to be used massively they were at number 7, and it has stayed this way ever since.  The mythomaniacs sya that it actually has something to do with the mysterious building number 7 on the campus of Redmond, which never existed ;-)

Exam prefixes

  • All standard exams begin with 70: most exams you will take in your professional life will carry this number, and you will see it constantly: for instance, the 70-515 or the 70-516  are for developers or 70-642 or 70-647 that are for system administrators.
  • Beta exams begin by 71: during several months before an exam is available to the general public, there is the possibility (mainly through a closed invitation) of taking it in beta mode in order to provide Microsoft feedback on it. I usually take all the certification exams in beta mode, which allows me to be ahead of the market and offer my certification course students a broader view on them, as well as giving my courses better focus.  These exams always carry the same code as the definite exam, but with 71 instead of 70. For instance, when I took the 70-515 in beta I was actually taking the 71-515.
  • Exams for students begin by 72 and 73: these exams are performed in academic institutions, like Universities, and have a much cheaper price than the normal exams because they are intended for students, which normally have less resources than a professional developer.  At IT Academies (they can only train students an unemployed people) exams are much cheaper too and carry the 73 prefix.  The exams are exactly the same, but since they have that special price they carry the 72 or 73 prefix instead of 70. Therefore, 72-515 or 73-515 would be exactly the same exam than the 70-515, except it is for students and unemployed people and have a special price.
  • Partner competence exams begin with 74: There are few of this type and many are being removed from the market on the 31st of March 2011. They cover topics centered on businesses, such as the 74-674 which is on “Delivering Business Value Planning Services” (flip out!).
  • No exams begin by 75 or 76: back in the days some beta exams performed with Pearson/VUE began by 76, but now the only examiner is Prometric and nothing begins with 76. With 75 there has never been anything that I’m aware of.
  • The examiners begin by 77: well, if you want to get certified as specialist in some Office application the exams you will have to take begin by 77.

With this explanation the Microsoft exam numbering is clear now. I hope you take into consideration when you take the exam. I mean, if you are a professional developer (neither a student nor unemployed) you mustn’t do an exam that begins with 72 or 73 and if the exam center wants to sell it to you in order for you to take, you might get into trouble.

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2 Responses to What do the numbers on Microsoft certification exams mean?

  1. Ruwan February 29, 2012 at 13:11 #

    Thank you . You solved my problem.
    I applied for 70-515 and after i`ve done the exam , on the microsoft score sheet , exam number was 72-515.
    Is it a problem, or exam was it tougher or easier,depending on the numbers?
    Thank you in advance.

    • campusMVP.Net February 29, 2012 at 16:50 #

      Hi Ruwan,

      The exams that begin with 72 are for students. It’s used for exams held at academic institutions. The exams are exactly the same, but since they have a special price they carry the 72 prefix instead of 70.

      Therefore, 72-515 or 73-515 would be exactly the same exam than the 70-515, except it is for students and have a special price.

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