Welcome to today’s post.
In today’s post I will explain what happened in the latest journey through my latest certification adventure.
Recently I passed on my first attempt, the Microsoft AZ-204 exam, Developing Solutions for Microsoft Azure. On passing this exam, I achieved my latest certification (and 10th Microsoft certification), the Azure Developer Associate certification.
Unlike most of the Microsoft Certifications I have undertaken in the past that required multiple examination passes to achieve a certification, a single exam in this case yielded the certification. The experience and learning of topics in this certification is quite expansive, requiring the candidate to be familiar with a number of skills outlined in the Microsoft site landing page for this exam.
Preparing for the exam
Acquiring the body of knowledge for this certification requires a combination of some or all the following:
- Hands-on experience in the development of solutions with Azure cloud technologies.
- Online training (free or paid)
To prepare for the exam requires a combination of the following:
- Practice questions
My combination of hands-on industry experience, self-study, online training, and practice questions from Microsoft recommended providers (I recommend Measure Up) which prepared me for the test. With the wide areas of knowledge scattered in so many areas required for this certification, questions that spread your study over areas that you might overlook can plug the gaps in the areas of knowledge and give you the maximum preparation and confidence to tackle the exam.
In a nutshell, the competencies are required:
- Development of Cloud Native solutions using .NET Core.
- Setup and configuration of resources within the Azure Portal.
- Ability of a hands-on approach to setup of resources and an imperative approach in the setup of resources using scripting languages including PowerShell and Azure CLI.
- An understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of the various pricing tiers of each Azure service that is subscribed, and how they are utilized in a solution.
Course study guide
The technical competencies, as specified in the AZ-204 study guide require familiarity with the major topic and sub-topics from the Azure Developer certification skills being measured including:
Develop Azure compute solutions (25-30%)
Implement infrastructure as a service solution
Create Azure App Service web apps
Implement Azure Functions
Develop for Azure storage (15-20%)
Develop solutions that use Azure Cosmos DB
Develop solutions that use Blob storage
Implement Azure security (20-25%)
Implement user authentication and authorization
Implement secure cloud solutions
Monitor, troubleshoot, and optimize Azure solutions (15-20%)
Integrate caching and content delivery within solutions
Instrument solutions to support monitoring and logging
Connect to and consume Azure services and third-party services (15-20%)
Implement API Management
Develop event-based solutions
Develop message-based solutions
Currency of certification study objectives
Ensure that any practice questions you use are not outdated with the current certification objectives.
In addition, ensure that you are studying up to date materials and any hands-on experience related to usage of legacy libraries should be reviewed. Since mid-2020, the .NET Azure SDK libraries were upgraded to the latest versions, so the following legacy libraries (V11 of Azure .NET SDK):
Azure.Storage Azure.Storage.Blobs Azure.Messaging.ServiceBus Azure.Messaging.EventHubs Azure.Messaging.Storage.Queue
Have been superseded with the following (V12 of Azure .NET SDK) libraries:
Microsoft.Azure.Storage Microsoft.Azure.Storage.Blob Microsoft.Azure.Management.ServiceBus Microsoft.Azure.EventHubs Microsoft.Azure.Storage.Queue
With the above changes, ensure preparation focus is directed to the latest source samples utilizing the latest versions of the Azure .NET SDK.
Dealing with the different types of questions
Like me, if you are more of a coder and scripter, and find it difficult to recall some of the Azure administrative Portal hands-on tasks, then using the free-online training (in the Microsoft learning site) that includes the free Azure developer sandbox to practice applying the sequence of tasks, can commit these practical skills and sequences to memory. In addition, any practical exposure using the services in Azure that have the Free tier can also be helpful in this regard.
If you are familiar with relational databases like SQL Server, then don’t expect to be tested on SQL databases. Understanding the server-less NoSQL Azure Cosmos DB (or other equivalents) is likely be tested as part of the Azure storage topic. An understanding of Event Grids and how they integrate with the various messaging-based data sources such as Service Bus, Event Hub, and Queue Storage and how they are handled by the various handler types including Azure Functions and Logic Apps is likely to be tested as part of the consumption of third-party services topic.
The exam duration, which is administered either at a test center or online proctored is around two hours, with question types including:
multiple-choice single selection questions
multiple-choice multiple selection questions
select and fill type questions
Format of the exam
The exam is split up into at least three sections, each of which you will NOT be able to go back to once finished. You will be able to mark each question for review within each section and return to that question back before completion of the section. There will be at least one section which consists of a case study. There will be another section of questions where you can only go forward to the next question. Many of the questions will have multiple answers where each correct answer will give you a partial score. There is no negative marking for incorrect answers.
Ensure you have enough time to attempt and provide answers for ALL the questions. If you fall short of a pass on completion, you will only have yourself to blame!
The Hurdle to Climb
The passing score for the exam is 700. As stated on the Microsoft site, which explains exam scoring reports, this score is a scaled score, not an absolute score that would normally be based on total scores. What this means is that an exam with a more difficult pool of questions will be scaled higher than an exam with a less difficult pool of questions. In this case, a higher absolute score in an easier exam will not necessarily be higher than a lower absolute score in an exam with more difficult questions. Bearing this in mind, as I mentioned in the previous section, it is to your advantage to attempt ALL questions irrespective of their difficulty to maximize chances of a passing scaled score.
Maintaining the Certification
The above question types are standard in most Microsoft exams.
Unlike the Microsoft exams of the past that I have obtained, including the Microsoft Certified Solution Developer, Microsoft Certified Professional Developer, Microsoft Certified Application Developer, and Microsoft Certified Database Administrator Developer, and Microsoft Certified Technical Specialist, none of these certifications expire! However, the Azure Developer Associate certification is one of many role-based associate cloud focused certifications (including specialty and expert level) that Microsoft has declared (since mid-2021) to have a requirement to be renewed annually to maintain currency. Failure to renew the certification will lead to expiration of the certification. One reason stated is that the body of knowledge for cloud-based certifications changes every year, which renders the role-based certifications invalid if not renewed. The only certificates that do not expire are those for the fundamental knowledge exams.
The only concern about the annual renewal of these certification is that if you possess multiple certifications that require renewal, then these require study and dedication on an annual basis to maintain currency. The renewal exams are free of charge, are online and can be taken as many times up until certification expiry.
That is all I have to say about this certification.
I hope you have found this post useful and informative.
And most importantly, if you wish to pursue this exam, then good luck!
Andrew Halil is a blogger, author and software developer with expertise of many areas in the information technology industry including full-stack web and native cloud based development, test driven development and Devops.