I have recently obtained both the DevOps Engineer Expert (AZ-400) and the Azure Developer Associate (AZ-204) certifications and was asked by a colleague if I had any tips for studying. I don’t have any quick shortcuts or magic tips but I’ll share in this blog post the three things I like to do before taking an exam.
One thing to disclose here is that I’d been working with these products for years before attempting to study and pass the exams formally so that did factor into how well I did on the exam as well.
Step 1 - Complete All The Free Online Learning Courses
At the bottom of the Microsoft page for each certification, there are a list of learning paths that cover the topics included in the exam. These usually will have a lab element to them that you can complete for free. The free labs can save you a lot of money compared to doing lab work on your dime, and the courses themselves are pretty good quality.
Step 2 - Pluralsight Courses
I have a subscription to Pluralsight, and they usually provide video courses that will prep you for the exam. I find it helpful to skim through these on 2x speed to fill in any information gaps from the free online courses.
Step 3 - Practice Exam
I’ve tried a few different practice exam solutions, and I’ve found the questions and answers on the official practice test’s to be the most accurate. Most of the time, this has been with Pearson Vue. Their practice test platform has been buggy and challenging to work with, in my experience, but at least their questions and answers were accurate. I tried a few other platforms that were a better user experience, but their questions and answers were all over when it came to accuracy.
Why not instructor-led training?
While this may work for some people, it doesn’t work for me. With an instructor led course, there is no way to skip over a couple of hours of content because you’re already familiar with it. This means you have to sit through stuff that bores you, and for me, I lose focus. Self-paced training works the best for me personally.
Did you buy any books?
I have an Oreilly subscription that gives me access to many technical books and some Pearson practice exams. I skimmed a few books for the AZ-400 and the AZ-204, but the books weren’t geared towards passing the exam. So there was a lot of fluff to sift through.