Over the last few months, when I mentioned to fellow travelers in the .NET world that I was working toward certification as a Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer – Azure Solutions Architect, I was asked by some about how I prepared for the exams:
Exam 70-532, Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions: This exam is designed to see whether you know how to write .NET code that works with Azure services, and if you can conduct the kind of DevOps activities needed to install and manage the services your code leverages.
Exam 70-533, Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions: This exam focuses on DevOps-type questions, assessing your practical ability to manage Azure resources.
Exam 70-534, Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions: This exam mostly uses case studies, testing if you can turn requirements into specific actions in Azure.
Disclosure: I am in no way affiliated with any company mentioned here. I have not received, and will not accept, compensation for this post. Everything I praise or condemn here is worthy of what I say about it on its own merits.
MeasureUp Tests Made The Difference
The single most valuable tool I used to pass these tests were the official practice tests from MeasureUp.
These tests won’t help you if you’re starting from zero. You have to have strong experience with Azure to even understand the practice test questions, nonetheless answer them correctly.
The best parts of the MeasureUp practice tests are the inline answers provided for each question. Basically, MeasureUp will tell you not only which answer is correct; and not only why it’s correct; but why the other answers are wrong. The answer keys also hyperlink to Microsoft resources that back up the answers.
I found that absolutely invaluable.
The tests aren’t perfect. There are some technical glitches here and there, and there are some questions that are ambiguous or difficult to understand. But overall, there’s little question in my mind that passing the real exams would have been a lot harder without the MeasureUp practice exams.
The Exam Reference Books Didn’t Help Me
I purchased all three official exam reference books from the Microsoft Press store, in both PDF and print form. I read the parts of them that covered the parts of Azure I don’t often use, but I found it almost impossible to retain that information.
I think that’s because the books present the material covered by the exams as a general body of knowledge, rather than as answers to specific problems.
For example, the exam references will give you the exact steps necessary to create a network security group. But they don’t compare and contrast when you might want to use an access control list instead, or maybe do some route management, or maybe use Active Directory, etc.
Mind you, that’s me. It may well be that you are better at retaining written information of this sort than I am; in which case, the books are probably a good choice for you. It may also be that I was using the books incorrectly and needed to read them from front to back in order to retain the information.
Believe me, I tried, but I just couldn’t do it. I found the books way too dry to stick with them for very long.
Deal Of The Century Running Right Now
If you’re thinking about taking the tests to become a Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer – Azure Solutions Architect, now is a great time, thanks to a new Microsoft promotion.
Pearson VUE’s bookstore, MindHub, is running an absolutely insane deal on certification testing. Called a Booster Pack, you can get a MeasureUp practice test, a test voucher and up to four retakes of the test, for $225.
Consider: Pearson VUE will charge you (if you live in the United States) $150 for the exam alone. And a 30-day online practice test from MeasureUp costs $99.
So you’re at least getting $24 off (a 10 percent discount) through this deal. But you’re also getting as much as $600 in credit for test retakes.
I’m not ashamed to admit it: I needed a couple retakes to get certified, because those tests are hard. But that said, I gotta tell you: If you can’t pass these certification tests after five tries, it’s hopeless. Especially if you actually use the practice tests.
It’s worth noting that this deal applies not only to the Azure tests, but to most professional certification tests Microsoft runs through Pearson VUE.