Yes understanding scripts has more emphasis now. Also understanding "Data structures" is a new edition. There are more subtle difference for e.g. addition of MITRE ATT&CK etc. Just compare side by side both new and old objectives. But overall it is similar.
I took the test at Pearson VEU centre. I know bit risky in current situation, but I had my reasons. But I heard "test-at-home" is also going well for people.
Yes, you can attend BETA before the actual release date, but the catch is – “The beta exam could end quickly, depending on how many people take it, so register as soon as possible to make sure you can participate.”
Hope this helps.