In the last few months, Microsoft has released several role-based certifications covering their multiple cloud solutions. This post will cover their structure and resources to prepare yourself. Next, I'll dive into the Azure Administrator Associate certification, including how to prepare for the new lab-based scenarios.

If you've never taken a Microsoft exam before, my goal is to get you familiar with the exam structure and some test preparation resources. The Azure Administrator Associate certification comprises two exams: AZ-100 and AZ-101. These exams also feature a new test-taking requirement: performance-based questions or live lab scenarios. These labs require you to demonstrate your skills that go beyond answering questions by completing actions in a real environment, and I will provide some resources to help you prepare.

Pearson Virtual University Enterprises (VUE) delivers and proctors Microsoft exams and provides test centers around the globe (find your nearest test center here). If a test center is not available near you, they also provide online exams you can take from home or the office. They proctor these exams remotely through a webcam and require some additional configuration, such as a clean work area and a good internet connection. To learn more about these online exams, check out this link and read through the requirements and expectations.

Microsoft tests you by using several different question types, such as multiple choice, drag and drop, build a list of steps, or short answer. Understanding the types of questions and how to answer them can boost your confidence during the exam because you won't waste time figuring out how to answer. Microsoft lays out great examples of each of their question types in this YouTube playlist: Microsoft Certification Exam Tutorial. Check out each video as well as these resources to help prepare for the different types of questions:

Also check out the Microsoft Learning Blog for the latest updates on exams as well as the Microsoft Learning Exam Policies and FAQs for valuable information on what to expect during the exam.

Let's shift focus to the Azure Administrator Associate certification. This certification is for admins who implement and maintain Azure cloud solutions, with a focus on compute, storage, networking, security/identity, and application services. It is attainable one of two ways:

  1. Pass the AZ-100: Microsoft Azure Infrastructure and Deployment and AZ-101: Microsoft Azure Integration and Security

Note: On March 20, 2019, Microsoft announced that the AZ-100 and AZ-101 are being retired and combined into a single exam named AZ-103. You will now only need to pass the AZ-103 to achieve the certification. Read more about this change in this Microsoft Learning Blog.

  1. If you previously passed the 70-533: Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions exam, you can take AZ-102: Microsoft Azure Administrator Certification Transition This exam will contain a subset of topics from the 100 and 101 exams. This is exam is available for a limited time only and is scheduled to be retired on June 30, 2019.

Each exam page will have a Skills Measured section that breaks down the exam into several subsections with topics and tasks. This isn't just a suggestion; this is what will be on the exam. I like reading and taking notes while reading, so I use the skills measured format to create sections and pages in OneNote for each topic. Here's a screenshot of my note-taking format from my AZ-101 exam:

Mapping exam objectives note taking example

Mapping exam objectives note taking example

The main page in OneNote maps to the exam's major sections, and each subpage maps to a topic in that section, then bullet points map to the tasks following May include but not limited to. I