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Microsoft Certified Software Developer

I recently got certified as a Microsoft Certified Software Developer and I wanted to document the books I read and the process I used. I did this very fast over 8 weeks. It involved a number of tests and a lot of reading. I do have over twenty years of software development experience so keep that in mind. Exams are listed in the order I took them.

I did this to learn things. I wanted to become more familiar with the latest version of Microsoft products as they relate to software development.

My Microsoft Certifications

What You Need to Do

You will need to be a Microsoft Certified Software Associate and take one elective exam to become a Microsoft Certified Software Developer. No exam used to get the MCSA can be used as the MCSD elective. You cannot take 70-480, 70-486 and 70-483 to get the MCSD.

MCSA: Web Applications
MCSA: Universal Windows Platform

I decided to get the MCSA Web Applications. The Universal Windows Platform seemed less relevant to me.

General Advice

I would read the book and take notes in the book. Highlight things draw on the pages. Take some outline notes on a seperate piece of paper. I found while reading all of these books that I retained the information if I limited my reading to an hour per session. I was able to read about twenty five percent of each book a day in two hours that is roughly 200 pages per day. I started with physical books but by the end I was reading the books on an iPad with the books bought from the Apple Book store.

Once you read the book read it again. Review your notes and the highlights from the book.

Take some practice exams. Some of the answers may be wrong review why the answers are right and wrong.

A good online resource to review or ask questions about exam preparation is www.reddit.com/r/mcsa

Finally... Take the exam

Exam Format

I took the exams at a Pearson Vue center. You basically sit at a computer and take the exam. There is no internet connection. No stackoverflow or google!

You have about 90 minutes to complete the exam. The questions are weighted differently so it's hard to know what a passing score is.

Keep in mind the exams cover the objectives of the exam. Definitely review those and especially any changes! Once you complete the exam it will tell you if you passed. You will receive an email after a few hours with your scores.

70-483 Programming in C#

Exam Ref 70-483 Programming in C#, 2/e 2nd Edition by Rob Miles (Author)

This was the first exam I took. I have a lot of experience with C# and thought this would be easier. The path I took with the exams though means this test was optional. If you aren't familiar with C#, I would skip the async first section, read the other sections in order and go back to the async section. For 70-486 and 70-487 there are some C# things covered so this exam does have value in the training process even though it is optional for the MCSA: Web Applications.

70-480 Programming in HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS3

Exam Ref 70-480 Programming in HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS3 (MCSD) 1st Edition by Rick Delorme (Author)

This one was HTML5, CSS3 and Javascript. The book did a very good job of covering everything that was on the exam. It's not all of HTML. Specifically HTML 5, CSS3 and Javascript. So keep in mind the exam objectives.

70-486 Developing ASP.NET MVC Web Applications

Exam Ref 70-486: Developing ASP.NET MVC 4 Web Applications 1st Edition by William Penberthy (Author)

ASP.NET Core Application Development: Building an application in four sprints (Developer Reference) 1st Edition by James Chambers (Author), David Paquette (Author), Simon Timms (Author)

There is no official exam reference book for this exam. There is the outdated book (which is on the Apple Book store). I reviewed the exam objectives then I read the outdated book first. Then I read this book. I was nervous going into this one. I would read both books but be aware of the changes in the exams!!!

After taking this exam I received the MCSA: Web Applications.

70-487 Developing Microsoft Azure and Web Services

Exam Ref 70-487: Developing Windows Azure and Web Services 1st Edition by William Ryan (Author), Wouter de Kort (Author), Shane Milton (Author)

Again this book is outdated but reading it is worth it. I familiarized myself with the current state of Azure. Keep in mind that Azure has changed from what is in the book. The concepts and ideas are the same. I would definitely research and use Azure hosting ASP.NET applications.

After this exam I received the Microsoft Certified Software Developer certification.


I did learn a lot while taking these exams. In my day to day job I tend to focus on a few specific things and by taking these exams I got a better feeling for how the Microsoft products can be used in software development in a lot of different areas.

I wish I had bought all the books from the Apple Book Store for the iPad. They are very good reference books and the search feature in the books app is very nice. I also wish I had started keeping all of my notes in the notes application on the iPad.

If you are developing software using Microsoft products I would urge you to take this exam. They are not easy but with practice and preparation you can pass them. I think I spent around thirty hours on each exam.

If you are an employer developing software with Microsoft products I would urge you to send your employees through this training path. They are going to up their game and become very familiar with how the Microsoft family of products can allow them to get more done in a shorter period of time with higher quality and lower costs.