New Performance-Based Certification: Write SAS Code During Your Exam


SAS Global Certification is proud to introduce our first performance-based programming credential, the SAS Certified Specialist: Base Programming Using SAS 9.4. Candidates will program in SAS during this exam. We have worked with our exam delivery partners to integrate a live lab into this exam and it can be delivered anywhere, anytime, on-demand. The current SAS Certified Base Programmer for SAS 9 credential, which has been in service since 2006, will not be available after June 2019.

Why introduce performance-based exam components?

As assessment professionals, we know that a well-constructed multiple-choice exam is a valid instrument to assess knowledge and skill. Yet we have spoken with many SAS users and hiring managers at conferences, universities, and online communities and we have heard you: the credential would be more valuable if you knew that candidates actually coded in SAS during their exam. This new exam is as real-world as we can make it and we believe that potential employers will value the new credential as a component in the applicant evaluation process.

We also believe that candidates will enjoy the exam experience (Well, at least as much as they can while under the stress of sitting for a test). You will have the freedom to solve the programming problems with your favorite methods. Need to subset data? Feel free to use a WHERE statement or a subsetting IF/THEN/ELSE. Or, if you are feeling really good about your skills, maybe a SELECT/WHEN/OTHERWISE.

During the exam, you have your choice of SAS environment: SAS Studio, SAS Enterprise Guide, or SAS Display Manager. The built-in help works, and you have access to SAS documentation (sorry, no Google, SAS communities, or Skype). There is a 5-minute period at the beginning of the exam to get acquainted with the lab and get ready for your first question before the exam timer starts. To help you prepare for the exam, we have released a full-length practice exam and a new Certification Prep Guide. The exam content aligns with our current Programming 1 and 2 courses.

Also, we have recently started using Pearson VUE’s Online Proctoring which allows you to test from your home or office (provided your PC and internet connection meet requirements). This is a great option for a performance-based exam as you have control over the size of your monitor.

The new credential integrates with our current programming credentials

There will be a new performance-based Advanced Programming credential soon, carrying the “SAS Certified Professional” designation. It will be in beta in April. The prerequisites requirements will be interchangeable: The ‘old’ Base or the ‘new’ Base credential will function as a prerequisite for either the ‘old’ Advanced or the ‘new’ Advanced. And for those Certified Base Programmers who would like to upgrade to the new credential, we have a $75 USD, 1-hour delta exam that you can take in place of the full exam. The current SAS Certified Base Programmer for SAS 9 remains a valid credential, but will not be offered after June 2019.

There are more details about the exam on our website. There you will find information about exam duration, scoring, a complete exam content guide, and a 4-minute video tutorial of the exam experience. We hope you like the new exam, and as always, good luck in your preparations.


About Author

Mark Stevens

SR Certification Specialist

Mark Stevens is a Certification Specialist for SAS Global Certification and has been working in training and certification since 2004. A SAS Certified Base Programmer since 2010, Mark enjoys every opportunity to dive into new SAS products and features. When he isn’t working on the next SAS certification, he can be found digging in the gardens in his back yard.


  1. I am confident that I am well prepared to take the certification test. I want to get familiar with the examination environment (the actual screen interface) before I take the test. My main apprehension is of how to access the error files in the C folder and how I can save my worked out programs and access them if needed in the C folder. I know I can access the input files with a libname statement (without which I cannot answer the programming questions). My main concern is if I will be able to open the folder to view the error files.

    Is there a way of having an experience of the realtime exam (the practice test does not have the same interface as in the exam) before taking the test?

    • Mark Stevens
      Mark Stevens on

      Hi Uma Devi,
      While it isn't possible to practice on the actual exam environment, we do have resources to help candidates be familiar with the environment centered on the tips and strategies article. Also, there are 10 minutes at the beginning of the exam before questions for you to get familiar with the environment. So you can open the UI of your choice, and for example, use the File menu to access error programs. For desktop applications (Enterprise Guide or SAS 9.4 for Windows AKA Display Manager), it works in the exam just like the software on your own computer. If you are using On Demand for Academics, you are using SAS Studio and SAS Studio is also available in the exam, but it isn't cloud based but rather a local install. Here, the local files (error programs, programs you have written and saved) are accessed easily from the "Files and Folders" menu.

    • Mark Stevens

      Yes, but the monitor will need an integrated webcam or you will need an external webcam to mount above the middle of the external monitor.

  2. sagar lathiya on

    How Can I access documentation page during the exam?
    Because from thie blog, it is clear that I can have access to documentation page.
    But SAS chat representatives are saying that I can not have documentations.
    Please help me through this.
    Thank You.

    • Mark Stevens
      Mark Stevens on

      Please watch the demo video on our webpage for the Base Programming Specialist as it demonstrates access to the documentation.
      Documentation is accessed from within the lab. Since normal multiple-choice exams are closed book and there is no lab, I can understand why the chat agent would be confused.

      • I saw the video, I wanna ask one more thing that if I am going with exam from my location, would that be the same experience?
        And I use my own sas studio or the different environment will be provided online?

        • Mark Stevens
          Mark Stevens on

          Regardless of the location that you take the exam (Pearson Test Center or at a SAS event or at home/office via OnVUE) the lab is always provided as part of the exam. You do not need SAS software installed on your exam computer, and the exam wouldn't use your local SAS software even if it was installed. The exam experience is the same for everyone.

  3. Are we able to estimate how much time should be spent on each question? Since its short answers and MCQs? Do we know what percentage are short answers and MCQS?

    • Mark Stevens

      There is more information in the videos posted on our community page:
      Regarding pacing, we provide this advice: Keep an eye on the clock. I think that we as programmers can't let go of a half-finished program, or one that keeps spitting errors. It is in our DNA to keep at it. But during an exam, it is better to get the points where you can. You can mark the questions for review or skip them. Either way, these marked/skipped items will show on the "Review" page before your exam ends and and you can go back later. If you are making progress, great. If not, time to skip to the next project.

  4. Hello Mark,
    A quick question, I heard that this new exam format contains multiple choice questions too ; however, I am unsure that lab access would still be available to answer those multiple choice.

    • Mark Stevens

      While not impossible, it would be very awkward to try given the design of the user interface. For the standard questions, all of the information needed is provided in the question, so there is no need to try to code it, although I understand the appeal of that. Also, the time limits of the exam would argue against trying to code the standard questions.

  5. Hello,
    Is that ok that I take the new version SAS based exam and take the OLD version SAS advanced exam? Is that admitted? Thank you.

    • Mark Stevens
      Mark Stevens on

      Yes Catherine - this works. The old and new are interchangeable as prerequisites. So 'new base' and 'old advanced' works, as does 'old base' and 'new advanced.'

  6. SO, exactly when is the OLD SAS ADVANCE CREDITIAL exam going to be cancel ? (im in canada, and planning to do in the pearson VUE exam center)

      • Florence Rodier on

        I can't seem to register for the previous SAS BASE PROGRAMMING certification online. Is this one already replaced ? I am in France and can do the exam online or in an exam center.
        Thank you for your reponse.

        • Shelley Sessoms
          Shelley Sessoms on

          Mark is currently unavailable, so I reached out for an answer on his behalf:

          The A00-211 is available until 6/30/2019. However, if a testing center local to a candidate does not have capacity, they won't see it available to schedule. They could also try online, but that method also requires an appointment and there may be few available this close to the deadline.

  7. Is the advanced SAS certification format being changed also? Or is that still multiple choice?

    • Mark Stevens
      Mark Stevens on

      There are changes coming too for the Advanced level certification. To be specific (maybe overly so), The "Advanced Programmer for SAS 9" credential is multiple choice and will be so for the remainder of its existence. The End Of Life date for this credential will be announced on the website in mid-June. In it's place, we are rolling out a new "SAS Certified Professional: Advanced Programming Using SAS 9.4" credential. This new credential is almost ready and will be released during the week of June 17. The exam for this credential will be performance-based, similar to the exam for the "SAS Certified Specialist: Base Programming Using SAS 9.4." credential.

      • thanks for the reply, mark.

        Just curious if you could ball park for me when the Advanced programmer multiple choice format will be done by. I'm scheduling my test now.


  8. Junaid Faruqui on

    Finally !!!
    They should have done this a long long time ago ..
    The only issue I see here is that the evaluation process can become very arbitrary .. there are many ways to solve a programming problem and preferences are subjective .. but I am sure that the cert people must have thought of that and found a way to address it .. I can't wait to recertify !!

  9. Great news, Mark, this will definitely add value so such certifications. The question is: who is going to evaluate their code? Many may come up with some non-trivial coding solutions.

    • Mark Stevens

      In this exam, we are measuring the outcome of their coding, allowing some freedom in how the candidate chose to solve the challenge. The structure of the scenarios lend themselves to being solved using the skills define in our content guide and that are taught in SAS Programming 1 & 2 classes. The lab containing the code exists for enough time that we can inspect the code after the exam if we feel that is warranted.

  10. Mark,
    Wow, I knew changes were coming to SAS certification exams, but this is huge! It sounds great. I love that test takers will be allowed to choose their interface and take different approaches to solving problems--just like in the real SAS programming world.

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