Really excited to share that I successfully passed the AZ-204 exam! I’m going to share a few things about the exam experience, what I did to prepare for the examination and impressions.
This exam is dedicated to experienced developers working with Azure platform and who want to use the maximum potential of Microsoft Azure Cloud to deliver solutions with unmatchable scalability, availability and performance. Also application architects can benefit from pursuing this certification.
Required skills needed to pass the examination:
- Powershell commands
- C# of Python knowledge
- JSON and XML configuration
- SQL basic understanding
- Ability to comprehend log output
How to prepare
I have experience with Azure but to be honest I didn’t work in an enterprise environment with much of the solutions available in Azure and that are subject for this examination. But by using the self-paced path from the Microsoft website I found out that it is really well structured, very concise explained and you also have exercises. These are important, because practice makes it better 😉
I didn’t explore the instructor-led approach so I cannot comment on that, I think for my case self-paced works better. I also found it very useful to have write notes in my notebook with the most important ideas from this course. Maybe I’m a bit old school, still I believe many things need to be studied with the pen and paper 😀✍️ These are all the modules that I studied:
As with regards to time for preparation, I allocated a week before the exam, with 2 hours per day during the workdays and full time in the weekend before the exam. Still, for many of you out there, this time-frame may not be the most suitable one so I advise you to plan like one month in ahead. It very much depends on your learning style, speed but also the experience you already have with Azure solutions. For example, I never worked with Cosmos DB and it took me some time to understand the data consistency levels.
I also recommend to take the assessment available on the Microsoft website as many times as required to score consistently above 80%. It definitely helped a lot to see in what areas I need more improvement.
What to expect in the exam day
Okay, you prepared, you are confident in your abilities, time to prove it! The exam is definitely a tough one challenging you in different areas like:
- Develop Azure Compute Solutions
- Azure Storage
- Azure Security
- Monitor, troubleshoot and optimize Azure solutions
- Connect to and consume Azure Services
Each one of this weights around 20% of the percentage of the exam questions. You will receive a score for each one of them at the end of the exam. The questions are pretty straight, some of them I found quite ambiguous though. Usually they are single-answer but can also be multiple choice. I advise you to read and understand the question properly, do not hurry otherwise you can make trivial mistakes. There are choices that seem to be the right ones but they are not, so be mindful about it.
The number of questions, as far as I understood can vary a bit as well as the time required to complete them. For me I remember there were 40-45 questions and 1:40h to complete. I can say I submitted the last question in the very last minute 😅
The idea with the exam is that it’s made to be as practical as possible, leaving you to make choices like you would in a real-world scenario. There is also some sort of a study-case where you play the developer/architect role for some company and you need to study the requirements, see the challenges faced and hence provide the right solution. I remember there was only one case study which contained like 8 questions, either with single-choice, multiple-choice and sort of an actions to take in order to achieve some goal.
Maximize your chances
I could notice there is a strong emphasis on topics like:
- az commands: how to create and link resources (eg. Service Bus, Web App, Functions)
- Cosmos DB consistency levels: this topic can be tricky, make sure you are prepared
- JSON configuration for Functions: triggers, bindings, parameter types, you’ll be shaken
- XML configuration for API Gateway: don’t forget about this Azure offering which might be not very used in practice
- Any kind of Azure service tiers: be it Function, Web App, Service Bus make sure what capabilities each tier has
- Authentication and authorization: definitely don’t overlook this one, make sure you learn about delegated permissions, tokens and managed identities
- Blobs: they are more complicated than they look
Personal advice while in the exam:
- Read the questions carefully
- Do not linger too much on a question, you can skip it for the end
- On a multiple-choice question, when unsure, it’s still better to choose some answer than not choosing anything. You may still pick the right one. If it’s wrong then you don’t win the point for that question
- Don’t expect the see any of the questions from the free assessment. In the exam, questions are formulated totally different
My personal impressions
I was really focused and challenged during the exam. I enjoyed the practical nature of how it measures your ability on the subject which I believe it’s essential in IT. Sometimes still you have to know from the top of your mind what keyword is the right one for a certain command which means you need prior practical knowledge of that command.
My personal belief is that Azure is a very strong cloud provider with focus on security, availability and performance which is widely used by many many organizations. Having a certification certainly proves your ability to develop Azure solutions and it is for sure a good path to follow if you are a Web Developer or Architect.
Let me know in the comments section what are your impressions about this exam and feel free to contact me if you have questions! All the best, AFI 🙂