Creating high-quality exams: The path from beta to live

Published Jun 26 2020 11:04 AM 6,164 Views

Updated April 28, 2021


I’ve heard from many of you who wonder why so much time passes between taking a beta exam and getting your results. We really appreciate your help with our beta program. I’d like to give you some insight into the beta timeline for creating high-quality exams, so you can understand why it might take as few as 8 or as many as 16 weeks to get your results.


Finding 250 qualified candidates

We conduct beta exams as part of the development process for releasing exams. Beta testing lets us learn how each question (aka ‘item’ in my world) performs in exam conditions. To get the best information about the psychometric performance of the items as well as detailed verbatim feedback, we need at least 250 qualified people to take the beta exam.


We offer the beta exam at a discounted price for a four-week period. If fewer than 250 qualified candidates sign up, we extend the offer for a few more weeks until we meet our threshold of 250 candidates. This pushes out the time it takes before we can move to the next stage of exam development.


This initial process takes from four to eight weeks.


Analyzing and reviewing test results

As soon as at least 250 qualified candidates have taken the test, we pull the beta data and perform a detailed analysis. This includes reviewing a wide variety of statistics that help us understand how each item is performing and how various combinations of items (called forms) are performing. We also review time spent on each item and each form, along with your comments.


I use this information to determine which items we’ll keep on the exam, which items we’ll remove, and which items need further discussion with subject matter experts (SMEs).


SMEs help me finalize the test item pool by identifying items that can be fixed and the items that must be removed. They work with me to set the cut (or passing) score. I consolidate this feedback to finalize the item pool and cut score.


This takes about two weeks.


Assembling the tests

Next, we design the forms assembly specifications (the combination of items that you see when you sit for the exam). We want to ensure that every exam delivery is psychometrically equivalent, while balancing multiple other considerations.


This takes about two weeks.


Building, testing, and publishing the tests

After we complete the forms assembly specifications for the live version of the exam, we’re ready to build, test, and publish the exam. We work with one of our exam delivery partners to build the exam “package.” This also entails setting up the exam in their system and testing it to ensure that everything (including scoring) is functioning as expected. My team also reviews this pre-published version. Then the exam is published by the exam delivery provider into their channel so that you can take the exam either at a test center or through online proctoring.


This takes about two weeks.


Rescoring beta tests after the exam goes live

During the week after the exam is live, we rescore all the beta tests. (We refer to this as “rescore” because each beta candidate is rescored on ONLY the items we keep on the exam or that didn’t undergo significant changes during the process described above.) We validate the rescore exam specs, review them for accuracy, and then apply the specs to each beta delivery. We conduct multiple quality reviews during this process. Every beta candidate’s test is compared to the list of items that were kept in the pool, and the cut score applied to determine pass/fail status. As soon as the steps are complete, beta candidates are notified of their results.   


This takes about a week.


Note about certification expiration dates when you pass a beta exam

If you pass a beta exam that leads to a certification, the certification earned date that appears on your transcript will be the date that the exam goes from beta to live. Your certification expiration will be based on the certification earned date. In the past, we awarded certifications based on the beta test date, meaning your certification earned date would be before the exam went live and you would need to renew your certification a few months after getting your result. By using the live date, we are ensuring you get the most time possible before needing to renew. Your transcript will continue to include the date you took the beta exam, so you can still demonstrate that you participated in the beta exam if so desired.


Thanks for your help

We hope this gives you some insight into our beta exam process, and why we take such care (and so much time) to get it right. At every step, we keep our quality bar high. The result is an exam that the industry can rely on. We appreciate your role in helping to make our process successful, and we thank you for your feedback and insight...and your patience in getting your beta exam result.

Senior Member

That explains the time taken to have the results out. I believe it may differ from one exam to the other depending on the time taken to achieve minimum no of exam takers for optimum analysis . Thanks for the insight. :stareyes:

New Contributor

Hi @Liberty Munson,

Any tentative date to get the AZ-303 and AZ-304 live?

Regular Visitor

i am still waiting for my AZ-303 (BETA) exam result. any idea when is the live date for this exam?


Hi @farzath and @abhishekmaitrey,

Live to beta takes 10-12 weeks in average. AZ-303 and AZ-304 were released in beta June 29, so exams should go live late September, and you should receive scores aprox 10 days after.

I know the waiting is 

Stay tuned for updates community.




New Contributor
@SandraMarin, Thanks for your update. I got to know from one of my knowns, he recently took AZ-303 Beta in India however it was clearly mentioned that the Beta versions for AZ-303 and AZ-304 are not available in India and some of the other countries as of now. Also, I'm curious to know why the result would take approx 10 days' time after the General Availability of the exams? Ideally, only Beta exams results come late. Please clarify. ++ @LibertyMunson

@abhishekmaitrey all beta exams are scored manually so that is why beta results are generally issued a couple of weeks after the exam is GA. As to the beta in India, I think that was about the 250 discount codes that were made available not being valid in several countries.

Occasional Visitor

@Liberty Munson as we already completed beta period, do we have any date when az-303 and 304 are going live and available as GA ? I have written both the exams and waiting for results to be out.

Regular Visitor

Hi.. I need some info on dp 203 beta certification..

1) When will I get the result or certificate if I sit for this exam today ?

2) will i be getting the result after 30th june i.e after it goes live?


hi @zartab, Exam DP-203 went live yesterday, so now, when you take it you will receive your results right away and if you pass you'll earn your certification immediately (getting the official email and seeing the badge in your transcript takes a couple of days).


Hi Sandra sorry to bother, can you give me an estimate on when the Exam MS-740 is going to go live?. I took the beta and I'm waiting for the results but I want to know how longer it would take.


Hi @avaldes507. I don't have details on Exam MS-740, but the time from beta to live is 10-12 weeks (from the date we release the beta). After we release the live version it takes up to 10 business days for you to receive the results.


Hope this helps.

Occasional Visitor

Hi all, 


Thanks a lot for the explanation, @Liberty Munson


The main, essential 10M $$$ question, however, is: how exactly and especially when is the lucky 250 discounted selection is conducted? 


Me myself passed several beta exams previously, now I am trying to jump in the last cabin of the leaving train for MS-720 as per mentioned here: 
New certification for Microsoft Teams Voice Engineers - Microsoft Tech Community . It refers to 300 and not 250 discounted lucky ones, but does not matter principally. How to see or know, PER specific Beta exam, am I late at the certain moment or not (yet) late and afterwards when the beta candidates selection (available seats) is physically over? 


Thanks a lot. 




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