Why do some topics appear more often than others on Microsoft exams?

Have you ever noticed that some topics have more questions than others on an MCP exam? Well, it is done on purpose. In your daily work, some tasks are more important or are done more frequently than others. The content of MCP exams reflects these differences.

The process of weighting exam objectives is neither random nor magical. It’s input from experts that determines the percentage of the total questions each objective will ultimately have on an MCP exam. The exam’s content development manager (CDM) sends what is known as a “blueprint survey” to a group of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). In this survey, each SME rates the frequency and importance of each objective. The CDM compiles the responses into a tool that calculates the percentage of the exam items assigned to each objective and functional group.

The final blueprint functions as the matrix for an exam’s development, measuring out how much of each objective we need to put in the exam. Microsoft uses the blueprint throughout the exam’s life cycle. During the item writing phase, the blueprint calculates how many items the vendor should write for each objective, given a specific size item pool. Whenever new exam forms are assembled, Microsoft ensures that the items chosen “map to the blueprint”—meaning that the proportions defined in the blueprint for each functional group are maintained in the new forms. So the exam consistently tests on the same content areas to the same extent, even though the actual items change.

Microsoft does not give out the specific information on how many questions will be on each objective. But you can find a list of the general ingredients in the exam’s prep guide. For newer exams, Microsoft also provides information about the percentage of items in each functional group. To see an example, check out the Skills Measured tab on the Prep guide for 70-640. This information can help you focus more of your study time on the functional groups that will have more questions on the exam.

-Randy Muller

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