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Partnership 101

How to build a foundation with Microsoft to accelerate your business

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Certifications, Exams, and Assessments

Win17a_Lisbon_StudyGroup_School_Devices_LenovoYoga910_0004.jpgWhat is the difference between Certifications, Exams, and Assessments?

It’s true what you’ve heard; the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) offers an abundance of learning and readiness content! You may already know that you can browse the Learning Portal for specially curated learning paths, enroll in online and in-person courses, and pass exams to achieve Competencies. You might even be aware of some of the benefits like building your expertise and achieving industry recognized standards. But with all this content it’s easy to feel a little overwhelmed.

Relax! We’re here to break it down for you! Here’s the 101 on the differences between Certifications, Exams, and Assessments as well as info on why you’d need them and how to prepare!

Microsoft Certifications

Microsoft Certifications are industry recognized programs which help you get hired, demonstrate clear business impact, and advance your skills. There are several types of certifications and they cover a wide range of categories as well. Feel free to browse by category or browse them all to find the certification that best suits your business needs! For a comprehensive look at all Microsoft Certification paths, download our guide here.

Why should I get certified?

Certifications give you a professional edge! They are globally recognized, and industry endorsed, providing evidence of your skills and abilities as well as initiative to embrace modern technologies. Still not convinced? Watch the video on the value of certification or check out our success stories!


Exams are a vital component of certifications. They are also often required for Competencies. As such, exams are carefully developed with input from industry professionals to reflect how Microsoft products are used in organizations throughout the world.

Exams might take you back to nail biting grade school days! But that doesn’t need to be the case here because preparation is our middle name! Under each exam in our exam list, you’ll find info on preparation options including instructor led training, prep videos, practice tests, and more! Want more support? Take advantage of Exam Replay, where you get an extra chance to score – now don’t you wish you had that in grade school?

You can also search for a learning path on the learning portal to help you get up to speed. Or find the right IT training online and in person. Microsoft now offers Microsoft Official Course On-Demand (MOC On-Demand) options. This exciting offer allows the classroom to be wherever you are! You can learn at your own pace with a blend of video, text, hands-on labs, and knowledge checks.

Find yourself short on time and in need of flexible training? Join the club! Or rather join the Microsoft Virtual Academy! It offers free Microsoft training in a wide range of areas. There are even curated learning paths that do the planning for you!


Occasionally as you work on your certification or competency requirements, you may run across assessments. These are offered by Partner University as a way to prove your skills. Just like exams, you can prep for assessments via the learning portal or Microsoft Learning site!

Microsoft Badges

After you’ve done all that work, you want a little recognition! We’ve got you covered! Microsoft has partnered with Pearson VUE to use their Acclaim badging system to award badges for your certification achievement.

At Microsoft we love enabling lifelong learners like you to develop your skills and showcase your expertise! If you still have questions, please post them here!

Visitor 1

Good Explanation. Thank you very much. 


Thanks much, 



Great summary!

Today's anecdote from real life is that this very day I was asked by a hiring manager in my old company to give a second opinion on an infrastructure engineer's CV. Apparently he had worked for me many years ago and now he had applied for a position so I was asked if I remembered him. 

A great guy overall, but I was surprised to see that his MCSE were from the year 2005 which was the Windows Server 2003-generation and that's really ancient today. It's a shame that the employers after me hadn't invested in making sure that his certifications were up-to-date but it was equally sad to see that he thought that having a twelve year old MCSE was still a valid currency. If your certifications are super old - then it's wise not to mention them at all but this guy was actually still proud of them and mentioned in his cover letter that he was 'Microsoft Certified'.

Certifications are a little bit like fresh milk - after a while it's no longer fresh and it's super important to make sure that you don't only work with the latest technology (he hadn't...) but that you also maintain your certifications so that they are a transactionable currency. 

I think that Microsoft's overhaul of the system with new certifications, exams, assessments and badges is great as it both makes it easier to maintain the proof that you're great at something - and it also provides a path for the ones with tremendously deep knowledge to be recognized for their skills.


Regards, Per