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 coaching his kids' soccer teams.


  1. 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 !!

  2. Leonid Batkhan

    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.

  3. 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.

Leave A Reply

Back to Top