10 Jan.

First impressions of the Office 365 beta exams

Being the glutton for punishment that I am, today I undertook taking both Office 365 beta exams back to back.
Obviously I’m under NDA so can’t disclose much, so below you’ll find my thoughts and impressions – but don’t expect guidance or answers.

I sat the Administering Office 365 (70-323) exam first .
This is undoubtedly the hardest exam I have ever sat in my professional career.
This exam would be easily sat by identity & messaging administrators who live with Office 365 on a daily basis.
Firstly there’s no real friendliness to it – you are quickly brought to realise that you either know or you don’t know what you’re talking about.
presented or ability to learn just by reading the service descriptions. To pass this exam you need to live deep under the hood of Office 365 on a daily basis. Kudos to Microsoft for making an exam that can’t be passed simply by memorising texts.
There’s very little GUI or client admin in this exam – just lots of AD/DirSync/ADFS/PowerShell/Exchange. Even the SharePoint exam questions are extremely detailed.

My criticism here is that I personally don’t believe that someone who follows the identity & messaging streams is going to be able to know deep answers around collaboration and metadata.

After a few minutes to stretch, refocus and eat some learning centre provided biscuits (don’t we love those!) I went back in to sit the Configuring Office 365 (70-321) exam.
This exam was shorter and had quite an element of planning to it.
Again quite a deep and comprehensive exam, however I felt more comfortable with the content as my team and I at Paradyne spend most of our days getting customers in to Office 365.
Quite a good mix of content here, and I believe that most people who spend their lives working for Microsoft partners specialising in Office 365 would feel more comfortable here.

Again I think it’s unrealistic for someone who knows how to running PowerShell cmdlets within Exchange or Active Directory to be expected to understand how to plan for SharePoint site collections and metadata.

I found a few errors and areas where something in the question was either not clearly specified or the answer could use more relevant terms.
Overall it was exhausting (as I would expect taking two exams back to back would be). If you’re one of the 500 around the world who is participating in the beta exam process – please provide comments at the end. Of course as a beta, the content may change when the process is finalised and all the feedback is collated.

Total Comments: 15


  1. Yikes. I’m taking these exams on friday. Better prepare…

  2. I’m scheduled to take the exams (also back-to-back) next wednesday. After reading this, I’d better use the weekend to get to know SharePoint a bit better. Thanks for the heads up. I’ll most certainly come back and leave my comments.

  3. Marius Ene says:

    Monday morning is my turn…

  4. Marius Ene says:

    I am interested in 71-321. I am learning from the deployment guide, service descriptions, MVA, and online help. Do you think it is enough to pass the 321 exam?

    • Unfortunately there’s not much else you can draw on to help study for the exam. The key is practical experience, service descriptions, and running the through the TechNet Labs.

  5. [...] Active Directory. Because I have been warned by some colleagues about the difficulty of the exam (http://thecloudmouth.com/2012/01/10/first-impressions-of-the-office-365-beta-exams/), I made sure to go through the SharePoint Online part at least one more time before taking a shot [...]

  6. [...] Active Directory. Because I have been warned by some colleagues about the difficulty of the exam (http://thecloudmouth.com/2012/01/10/first-impressions-of-the-office-365-beta-exams/), I made sure to go through the SharePoint Online part at least one more time before taking a shot [...]

  7. Marius Ene says:

    I took the Deploying exam. I was surprised because most of the questions were more related to managing sharepoint and managing from powershell.
    Anyway what should I expect in the next Administering exam? What should I concentrate more on?

  8. markopavic says:

    I took both exams and both of them were very hard. First exam Deploying from my point of view containts incorrect questions, but this is my subjective opinion. Second exam Administrating contains A LOF OF questions, very long text on every question and it’s really hard.

    Guys, did you get results from exams?

  9. [...] Just over a year ago I sat the Office 365 beta exams 70-323 & 70-321 and blogged about my thoughts. [...]

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