Shane Bartholomeusz

Technical Solutions Consultant

How to Pass: Azure AZ-900 Exam

Overview

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.

Azure AZ-900 Badge

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.

Azure Certification pathway

The exam requires you to demonstrate high level knowledge of the Azure cloud, and it’s various service offerings across 4 key domains:

Understanding general cloud concepts (15-20%)

  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) vs Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) vs Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)
  • Understand the consumption-based model
  • Understand the principles of economies of scale
  • Understand key terms including High Availability, Scalability, Elasticity, Agility, Fault Tolerance, and Disaster Recovery
  • Capital Expenditure (CapEx) vs Operational Expenditure (OpEx)
  • Public cloud vs Private cloud vs Hybrid cloud

Understanding core Azure services (30-35%)

  • Understand key terminology including Regions, Availability Zones, Resource Groups, Azure Resource Manager etc.
  • Explain the benefits and usage of core Azure architectural components
  • Describe Compute services available such as Virtual Machines, Virtual Machine Scale Sets, App Service Functions, Azure Container Instances (ACI), and Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS)
  • Explain Networking services such as Virtual Network, Load Balancer, VPN Gateway, Application Gateway and Content Delivery Network
  • Explain Storage offerings such as Blob Storage, Disk Storage, File Storage, and Archive Storage
  • Explain Database product offerings such as Cosmos DB, Azure SQL Database etc.
  • Describe the Azure Marketplace and its usage scenarios
  • Understand Internet of Things (IoT) offerings such as IoT Hub and IoT Central
  • Describe Big Data and Analytics offerings such as SQL Data Warehouse, HDInsight and Azure Databricks
  • Understand Artificial Intelligence (AI) product offerings such as Azure Machine Learning Service and Studio
  • Describe Serverless computing and Azure products that are available for serverless computing such as Azure Functions, Logic Apps and Event Grid
  • Have knowledge of DevOps solutions available, such as Azure DevOps and Azure DevTest Labs
  • Describe the benefits and outcomes of using Azure solutions
  • Understand Azure tools such as Azure Portal, Azure PowerShell, Azure CLI, and Cloud Shell
  • Understand Azure Advisor

Understanding security, privacy, compliance, and trust (25-30%)

  • Understand Azure Active Directory
  • Describe Azure Multi-Factor Authentication
  • Understand Network Security Groups (NSG)
  • Understand Application Security Groups (ASG)
  • Describe Azure Firewall
  • Describe Azure DDoS Protection
  • Choose an appropriate Azure security solution
  • Authentication vs Authorization
  • Describe Azure Security Center
  • Understand Azure Security Center usage scenarios
  • Describe Key Vault
  • Describe Azure Information Protection (AIP)
  • Describe Azure Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)
  • Describe policies and initiatives with Azure Policy
  • Describe Role-Based Access Control (RBAC)
  • Describe Locks
  • Explain Azure Advisor
  • Describe Azure Blueprints
  • Explain Azure Monitor
  • Describe Azure Service Health
  • Understand industry compliance standards such as GDPR and ISO
  • Understand the Microsoft Privacy Statement
  • Describe the Trust center
  • Explain the Service Trust Portal
  • Describe Compliance Manager
  • Determine if Azure is compliant for a business need
  • Understand Azure Government cloud services

Understanding Azure pricing and support (25-30%)

  • Explain Azure Subscriptions
  • Understand options around Azure Free Subscription offering
  • Understand subscription management using Management groups
  • Understand options for purchasing Azure products and services
  • Understand the factors affecting costs such as resource types, services, locations, ingress and egress traffic
  • Understand Azure Zones and how it relates to billing
  • Pricing calculator vs Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) calculator
  • Understand best practices for minimizing Azure costs such as performing cost analysis, creating spending limits and quotas, using tags to identify cost owners, using Azure reservations, and using Azure Advisor recommendations
  • Describe Azure Cost Management
  • Support plans – Dev vs Standard vs Professional Direct vs Premier
  • Explain how to open a support ticket
  • Understand available support channels outside of support plan channels
  • Describe the Knowledge Center
  • Describe a Service Level Agreement (SLA)
  • Understand composite SLAs
  • Understand how to determine an appropriate SLA for an application
  • Understand Public and Private Preview features
  • What is General Availability (GA)?

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!

Free training can be accessed here:
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/learn/paths/azure-fundamentals/

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.

Microsoft Docs Screenshot

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.

MeasureUp Screenshot

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

Microsoft Logo

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.

Mind Mapping

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.

AZ-900 Mind Map
VSDX File Download
MM File Download

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.

Pluralsight
Pluralsight Screenshot

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.

AZ-900 Exam Reference Book Screenshot

Sitting the Exam

The actual exam is around 85 minutes in length. To pass, you’ll need a score of 700 – which I assume 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.

Microsoft Learn Portal Screenshot

You’ll also be able to download your earned badges from Acclaim.

Acclaim Screenshot

Final Thoughts

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.

Shane Bartholomeusz

16 Comments

  1. This is a great overview, thank you for posting. Really like the mind-map!

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience. Just a quick question – were all the questions multiple choice type? are there any labs?

    • Shane Bartholomeusz

      31st October 2019 at 1:03 pm

      Thanks. Yes, that’s correct. The questions are all multiple choice. There are no labs in the exam.

  3. Congratulations on passing your AZ900 Cert Exam Shane! And thank you for posting the wide array of helful links (including your mindmap..simply awesome!!!). Im taking that cert exam on Nov 8th.. all this info will certainly help!

  4. Doing this exam next Friday. Thanks for the advice.

  5. Thanks Shane for your “how to prepare” advices. I used just one of them – bought myself MeasureUp package, and today I passed exam with 858 points.
    I found only few questions were from that prep course, or were close in logic. Most were simply jesuistic aimed at tripping you, so until the last moment I was not sure if I passed. But I did! I am very happy, and want to warn those interested in this exam: you need to study that course 150%, and remember all info that is given. I basically went thru many test rounds offered, and recorded all my errors with answers. Good luck to you all!

  6. Thank you sharing your experience, and the material that helped you pass the exam. Congratulations.

  7. thanks. this is really useful to get a grip

  8. Thanks Shane.. Can you share the coggle file you created?

    • Shane Bartholomeusz

      27th March 2020 at 5:50 am

      Hi Ram,
      Sure! I’ve added the links to the Coggle export file and also a Visio file download.

  9. Hi Shane,

    Thanks for this useful. I passed this exam today with 88%. Very pleased. I used free Microsoft learning resource. I created 9 mind maps using XMind. I also bought Udemy practice exam questions. Hands on exercises were great help in retaining concepts as I am more ‘suck it and see’ type. If your concepts are clear, exam is not too difficult. 34 questions in my exam. There was a Microsoft survey just before the exam which was off putting.

  10. What does 700 pass mark mean if there are only 40-60 questions? What is the pass mark percentage needed?

    • Shane Bartholomeusz

      27th June 2020 at 8:28 am

      Microsoft don’t officially state the actual pass mark however from what I understand it is around 70%

  11. Thanks Shane. Useful inputs. Helped me pass the examination today. The mind map thingy was great. What did you do after AZ 900

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