Conan Mercer Applied Scientist

My Road To Azure Fundamentals Certification (AZ-900)

27 Sep 2020 - Conan Mercer

The Road to Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Certification

Out of curiosity I decided to study and take the Microsoft Azure Fundamentals certification (AZ-900). Once passed, this exam demonstrates fundamental knowledge of cloud technologies, in this case related to the Azure offering by Microsoft. The exam is not difficult, but it does require about 10 hours of study to be familiar with cloud concepts, Azure services, security, privacy and pricing.

Preparation

Working in a company, or working on personal projects that use Azure will help to reduce the amount of time required to study for this certification. In total I spent about 10 hours preparing for this exam, the total time-box for this was less than 1 week. I spent 1 hour every morning for 5 days and 1-2 hours each evening (before and after work).
I recommend to sit and study for this exam in a defined and short period of time, do not spread the preparation out over a month or longer as a lot of the information needed is not easily retained, for example the pricing section.
The Microsoft Learn platform is a very useful resource for this exam. It goes through pretty much everything you will need to pass the exam. It is text heavy with not much visual stimulation. For this reason I would recommend creating a free Azure account and actually play around with the Azure portal. Do things like creating resource groups and initializing virtual machines etc. This practical element can be a bit dry if you are not actually using it for a real world problem, but trust me it helps a lot to solidify your knowledge of the platform.
In my opinion it is sufficient to use free resources to prepare for this exam. I would not recommend paid exam questions or courses. It can be tempting to purchase these in order to make success more likely, and you will find a lot of organizations and resources on the internet targeting you towards paid plans. For this particular certification, in my case, they where not necessary. Keep your money for a rainy day.
To fully prepare, I did the following:
In total, the above preparation took me about 10 hours over a 5 day period.
The exam costs, at the time of writing, 99 euros. You will need to schedule the exam on the Microsoft website here. If you take the online exam, you will be proctored during the exam by Pearson VUE.

The Day of the Exam

Pearson VUE is the platform you will use on the day of the exam. Before the exam starts you need to take a photograph of your government issued photo ID, this ID must match the name you used when scheduling the exam. You will also need to take 4 pictures of the room you are taking the exam in, the room should be sparse with no written material on show. If you have extra computer screens, they should be turned away from you and out of hands reach. Also, if anyone walks into the room during the exam, insta fail. So make sure you are in a quite place with no distractions.

During the Exam

You have exactly 60 minutes to complete all 30 questions. This gives you approximately 2 minutes to read, comprehend and answer each question. I finished all of the questions in about 20 minutes which gave me about 40 minutes to recheck any question that I had flagged. I flagged 8 questions, and when I reviewed them I changed the answer to 2 of them. I submitted my exam after about 30 mins. Time frame is not an issue for this exam, you should have plenty of time to answer each question.
To pass the exam it is required to score 70% or higher. This allows some wriggle room to get some questions wrong.

After the Exam

After the exam you are presented with a pass or fail, a score out of 1000, and a breakdown of where you lost marks based on a percentage in each section examined. You do not receive specifics on what questions you failed and their correct answers, this is one of the many ways that the Microsoft certification process is respected in industry. The integrity of this exam is high as a real exam question "bank" does not exist. Your certificate is also searchable and verifiable by anyone via the Microsoft website, cold hard proof of your success. You also receive a high quality pdf of your certificate, with your full name and the date you passed the exam, see Figure 2.
Figure 2 - Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals Certificate
Once you have your certificate, the journey does not end here! Applying the Cloud technologies in complex projects and organizations is a very challenging thing to do. I look forward to study for and take the DP-100 Data Science exam soon, peace out!