Thoughts on AZ-900
I recently passed the Microsoft AZ-900 Azure Fundamentals exam.
The exam is designed for people who have some foundational knowledge in Cloud technologies
I’d say it’s probably fine for people who are totally new to the cloud but keep in mind there will be a steep learning curve.
As for people with quite a bit of Cloud Experience, which I’d put myself into I have to say don’t skip this exam. I think it’s still relevant.
The word ‘fundamental’ could be mistaken for basic and I think that’s a mistake.
While I was aware of almost all of the concepts in this exam and indeed have used many of the technologies, it did formalise some of my understanding of the fundamental aspects that aren’t necessarily obvious unless you study them.
Microsoft have a dedicated page for each of their certifications.
AZ-900 can be found at:-
The approach to an exam is pretty simple and if you’re methodical about it then you should be fine passing.
Firstly though I do want to say the mail reason for studying for an exam in my opinion should be to gain an understanding of the material. The exam is just an indication you’ve achieved your goal.
These are the steps to take.
- Understand the skills measured
- Study for the exam making sure you go through the entire list of skills measured.
- Where relevant and possible complete tasks, or labs
- Take Practice exams (Important!)
On the Az-900 Microsoft web page found here you will find a link to the ‘Skills Measured’ document. It’s sometimes updated to keep up with relevant industry changes so I won’t link to it here. But this is a must as your first step to get the latest copy of this document to understand the full list of what you will need to know to pass the exam.
As a sidenote I use Notion as a study tool and found another helpful Notion user who’d setup the list as a Notion Database with check lists. So I could check off each topic as I’d gone through it. There are also helpful people out there who have put together Excel spreadsheets the same. Note: if you use resources like this ensure they’re up to date.
Find Study resources you like (there’s so many) and set a study schedule.
Having access to the right study materials is key and boy is there a lot out there. It can be overwhelming.
I’m going to list out the resources I used but this is by no means a comprehensive list. I tried a few and this is just what I settled on.
I think first on anyone’s list should be Microsoft Learn. I’ve used some of the resources in the past but never a structured course like this and honestly it’s really top class. I’m assuming every certification has a learning track, and AZ-104’s can be found here.
Next I used a training provider called Cloud Academy. They have a study track for this exam.
I also watched the entire series provided by Jon Savill on YouTube which can be found here. It’s a long series but trust me it’s worth it. Jon is a beast I have no idea how he has the time to put out as much quality content he does but we’re all lucky he does. I’m now going through his AZ-104 series.
For Practice exams I used MeasureUp who are mentioned on the Microsoft web site. I think practice exam are a must and MeasureUp aren’t the only ones but they do appear to be endorsed by Microsoft, and I can attest to their quality.
Taking the exam
I took the exam online with Pearson VUE.
It’s a fairly straight forward process. You book the exam through the Microsoft link I shared above.
The process will take you to the Vendor web site where you can book. You can pay for and book a time in this step.
Once you pay and book you get a couple of emails from the Vendor. Invoices and that sort of thing. One will have a check in link.
However as soon as you pay you can go through the process of checking how to prepare your test area and do a system check on your PC. I recommend doing this right away or at least a couple of days before the exam so you know you’re ready.
On the day you can check in half an hour before the exam. The check in process get’s you to go through your system settings check again but that only takes a minute.
You then have to photograph your testing area which I’m sure will be prepared after you read the instructions I pointed out a couple of paragraphs below. It basically just has to be clear plus a couple of other requirements.
Once through this process you go into a queue. I didn’t time mine but I entered at position 4 and I think it only took about 2 minutes to get down. I had a connection error then and went back to position 4 but got in the next time.
My camera froze on their end so they called me and we just went through checking in again and it was fine. So be prepared it might not be that smooth but it’s not too bad.
Once in there if you’ve done the practice exams you’ll be familiar with how it all works.
Share your achievement
Once you’ve passed your exam you’ll get an email that has an option you to share your achievement on Twitter and LinkedIn. It does this via Creadly so if you don’t have one you’ll need an account.
I really do encourage you to do this because hey, you’ve earned it and secondly it’s a great way to network.
Bonus tip… don’t wait.
Last tip is don’t wait to do this. I’ve been in a role for 3 years. Using both Microsoft 365 and Azure technologies. I’m not sure if it was because it was a particularly taxing role (it was busy and chaotic) or I just got comfortable but certification wasn’t on my mind.
They say you shouldn’t have regrets but I think that’s silly. There’s nothing wrong with healthy regret if you learn from the experience. I do regret not taking these certifications in this time for two reasons.
- Studying for an exam is a goal that makes you hungry understand a topic to a level you might think you don’t need to. It’s good to go deep dive and understand a topic to make you feel more comfortable. You don’t always get that in abbusy environment where you need to get things done.
- I look back and think of some of the projects I was on and think there might have been different approaches I’d have taken had I known a couple of things I learned.