Tomasz Hamerla

Tomasz Hamerla

at the intersection of software & data engineering

How to nail Azure exams

Thoughts after passing the 4th Azure exam

Tomasz Hamerla

3-Minute Read


Back in 2017 I took 3 Azure exams - 533, 534 + 475 and recently decided to go for AZ-102 which is my 4th Azure exam and the 1st one passed after a long break caused by health problems.

Always pass

I didn’t fail any of those exams. Furthermore, I scored well above the pass mark. I passed the last exam after 4 days of preparation. How did I do it?

Question types

Question types are fundamental to your learning process, because recently Microsoft decided to change their approach to exams. When I took my first Azure exams in 2017 I had to memorize different service tiers and pricing models to achieve a good result. Questions were mostly multiple-choice tricky ones. You may have already taken AWS exams which are mostly multiple choice or straight answer exams. Very often you can simply get away with the lack of hands-on experience while preparing for those. Well, Azure exams were quite similar. Up until now. Microsoft decided to add performance testing questions and, generally, focus more on hands-on part. So what is used? Let’s take a look:

  • “Performance testing” (think labs) - you need to click something in the Portal or use a Dropdown
  • Putting things in order - the real hell of Azure exams, asking you to put steps in order. For example how to upload an object to a storage account step-by-step? (but of course a whole lot harder)
  • Case studies - very long scenarios including questions generally going around finding the best service for a specific job for a specific department in a specific setting… does sound terrible, right?
  • Mini-case studies - quick questions on finding the best tool for a specific job

There are also multiple choice questions and simple questions but the ones mentioned above are the most important.

Adjusting your learning process

You should really focus on “clicking around” and trying different things, there’s really no way around this. Sign up for the free trial and be sure to explore every service required by your exam and do it well - deploy it a few times and, what’s even more important, spend some time on the troubleshooting section.

But online courses?

Online courses can be helpful to get the foundation of services and what should you focus on during hands-on part. But your main focus should be on hands-on and basically having fun with services.

What if I am a complete newbie?

Then your best luck is either doing intro courses with hands-on or reading documentation. I would suggest googling things like “How to deploy a website to Azure?” to get a grasp of Azure before diving deeply into exam objectives.

A note on Azure Active Directory

For the vast majority of exams you take (except for example big data specialities) you are more likely than not to be asked about Azure Active Directory. Please learn it well, especially hybrid scenarios and MFA, because Microsoft really loves AAD (sorry Linux, you are 2nd!).

Hope this helped someone and let me know in the comments what’s your experience with preparing for Azure exams.

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