The Microsoft Azure Fundamentals AZ-900 exam is the first stepping stone on the Microsoft Azure cloud certification pathway.
Having recently passed the AZ-900 exam I wanted to share my thoughts and insights in this AZ-900 Exam Study Guide to help others pass the exam.
What is the AZ-900 Exam?
Firstly, what exactly is the AZ-900 exam all about? In short, the AZ-900 exam is an introductory Azure exam which aims to demonstrate foundation level knowledge of the Microsoft Azure cloud.
Although this exam is intended for both a technical and non-technical audience, it will help if you already have general IT knowledge and hands-on experience. Completing this one exam will give you the Microsoft Certified Azure Fundamentals certification.
The exam requires you to demonstrate high level knowledge of the Azure cloud, and it’s various service offerings across 4 key domains:
If you are interested in finding out more about the exam, then I recommend you check out the Microsoft AZ-900 Exam Reference page and central Certification Dashboard page which includes essential information including booking the exam, links to study material and links to training courses etc.
My Exam Prep Strategy
Similar to some of the previous exams I’ve completed, my exam preparation strategy was as follows:
- Complete Self Paced Online Training
- Complete the Official AZ-900 Practice Exam
- Attend Free Microsoft In-Person Training
- Compile a Mind Map
Self-Paced Online Training
Microsoft has some great self-paced online learning resources specifically tailored for the AZ-900 exam… oh, and did I mention … IT’S 100% FREE!
The training is split into multiple modules that comprise the key concepts covered in the exam. You can complete the training in your own time, at your own pace. I went through the entire self-paced training over the course of 1 week or so.
Official Practice Exam
Microsoft also offers an official AZ-900 practice exam which is provided through Measureup and can be found here:
The Measureup online exam simulator offers various modes, including a Certification Mode which is just like the real exam, or you can choose Practice Mode which allows you to see the answers including an explanation explaining the reasoning behind each answer.
At the time of writing, the cost of the practice exam started at $99 USD (depending on the option you select).
Although it isn't free, I highly recommend taking it as it will help you gauge how prepared you are for the exam. Far better to know this sooner, rather than during the actual exam!
Also, most people don't realise that MeasureUp provides an exam guarantee that you will pass the exam or you will get your money back if you achieve …
Score of 90%+ is achieved in Certification Mode at least twice consecutively
You can find more details regarding their refund policy here.
I sat the practice exam several times while preparing for the exam until I was confident. Some of the practice questions even appeared in the real exam!
Free Microsoft In-Person Training
Microsoft periodically runs FREE 1-day in-person training sessions around the globe, and if you are lucky enough then there might be one happening near you.
You can find a list of the upcoming Microsoft AZ-900 training at the below link: https://events.microsoft.com
Luckily for me, as I was planning to book the exam, I discovered that Microsoft was going to hold an in-person Azure Fundamentals workshop near me (i.e. in Perth, Western Australia). So I decided to register and attend the event.
The workshop covered all the basic content found in the the AZ-900 exam, including a general overview of the cloud, explanation of the various Azure service offerings, pricing and support options, governance etc.
As a bonus, workshop attendees had the option of sitting the exam (for FREE) on the same day, after the workshop had finished. Unfortunately all available seats to sit the exam were filled, so I instead was given a FREE exam voucher instead, which I could redeemed when booking the exam.
If you're like me, you might be a visual learner and find it easier to absorb visual forms of content (such as video, diagrams, charts, etc.) as opposed to text heavy content such as reference books and articles.
Introducing mind mapping …
Mind mapping is a visual learning technique that involves organising data in a visual manner. I used the FREE online mind mapping tool Coggle to create a mind map for the exam, which I would periodically review, to refresh my memory of the exam topics. If I couldn’t remember specific concepts then I would go back and study them again.
You can find my mind map below.
Additional Training Resources
I've been a loyal Pluralsight subscriber for many years now and so naturally I also used Pluralsight as part of my preparation for the exam. If you haven't heard of it, it's essentially an all-you-can-eat online IT training suite covering almost any topic you can think of … from the Azure cloud, to database management, web development, DevOps … and much more.
Pluralsight is a fantastic resource for IT professionals / developers, and that’s why I’ve been a long time subscriber and advocate of it.
If you already have a subscription then I recommend checking out this video which provides an overview of Azure. If you don't have one, you can use the below link to access a FREE 10 day trial to use Pluralsight to help you pass the exam.
Additionally, Microsoft also provides an Official Exam Reference Book for the AZ-900 exam which covers all the essential topics contained in the exam. If you prefer studying studying from a physical book then it might be an option for you to consider.
Sitting the Exam
The actual exam is around 180 minutes in length. To pass, you’ll need a score of 700 – which equates to around 70%.
My strategy for the exam involved a 2-pass approach, whereby I would spend around 30 seconds per question on the first pass. If I encountered any questions I wasn’t sure about, I would mark it for ‘review’ so that I could come back and review these later.
As with most Microsoft exams, pay close attention to the wording of each question. A single word can sometimes completely change the context of the question. I incorrectly answered a few questions in the practice exam because I didn't read the question carefully enough. So pay close attention to the wording.
My goal with this exam was to put my knowledge into practice rather than just pass the exam. For this reason I spent around 1 month preparing to sit the exam.
Overall, I found the exam to be a bit in-depth than I originally expected (given it was a foundation level exam), so I was glad that I had put in extra effort to prepare for it.
You can book the exam through the AZ-900 exam page. I was given the option of either completing it online or in-person at an exam center. I opted to do it online because it was more convenient for me.
How Did I go?
I passed the exam on my first attempt with a score of 860. Great success!
Immediately after completing the exam, you’ll be informed of the result. Around a day or so later, you should see your certification appear in the Microsoft Learning portal.
You’ll also be able to download your earned badges from Acclaim.
The AZ-900 introductory exam is a great introduction to the world of the Microsoft Azure cloud.
I wish you the best of luck with the exam and hope that this AZ-900 exam study guide has helped you in your preparation for the exam.
I’d love to hear your experiences of the exam, or any general tips you may have. Feel free to share them in the comments below.