Last week my company launched a certification challenge. Yes, they would be rewarding employees who passed certification exams, but they also asked if I would be able to teach a class. My pleasure… but before I teach it, I’d like to pass the exam.
I decided that the best way to light a fire under my backside was to register for the exam… which I did, and I gave myself two weeks to prepare. I sent my team a notice that on Tuesday the 26th I would be in late.
A huge benefit to being a Microsoft Certified Trainer is that I can download any Microsoft courseware, and go through it at my own pace. I downloaded the materials for AZ-900, and realized quickly that there were no labs… on-line or otherwise. For those of us who learn better from doing than from reading, that could be daunting. No matter, I started going through the materials.
By Friday afternoon I was halfway through the material – it is a one day course – and decided that if I could spend 5-6 hours over the weekend, I would be ready to sit the exam Monday (instead of the following Tuesday).
There was another method to my madness… this was going to be my first Azure exam, and I had no idea what to expect. I knew the process of on-premises solutions exams, but public cloud? It might be different. For the cost of an exam (which is covered by my company anyways) I would either pass… or not, and be able to re-sit the exam next week.
For a non-technical exam, it was a bit challenging; not because the questions were hard – some of them were very simple – but as someone with 80+ exams under my belt, a lot of the questions had me getting into the heads of the question writers. I don’t know if that helped or hindered me, but on a couple of questions it made me second-guess my answers.
Having to know about geographies and such was not a surprise; having to know about civilian, government, military, and other certification authorities was a surprise. I am grateful that as I got bored on Sunday I did not pack it up and go for a cigar; rather I ordered another cup of tea and a biscotti, and soldiered through the last module of material. I am reasonably certain that had I not done so I would be writing a very different article (without the certification logo).
The bottom line: can you pass this exam without ever touching Azure? Maybe. I am not an expert by any means, but I certainly have quite a bit of Azure experience. Can you pass this exam without knowing about all of the Azure components and what they do, what they are for? Unlikely. Make sure you know all the tools, as well as the subscription levels and support agreement types.be certain you know what you are charged for… and when.
I walked into the exam room at 10:05am and walked out with a respectable passing score at 10:29, besting my best time ever on a certification exam by two minutes. The 26 minute exam was a Windows Vista exam I think. I strongly recommend not trying that… take your time, read the questions, mark as many of the, for reviews as you can (and there are a few sections you cannot go back and change). I was given 85 minutes for the exam, although only 60 minutes for the actual questions (there were just shy of 50 questions). Pass or fail, I am always in and out in a hurry… but I think that the time allotment is appropriate for anyone whose mother tongue is English.
Overall, I am not impressed with this exam as a certification exam, but the world changed and I have to adapt. Microsoft doesn’t ask me about technology trends, and it has been years since Microsoft Learning asked my opinion about cert exams. And so here I am, taking Azure exams. This was my first; it will not be my last. For a guy who is Senior Windows Engineer for a large data centre, these exams are irrelevant to my career… for now. But everything changes, and I am getting ready for the future. How about you?