Following on from my previous post on training recommendations: earlier in the year I posted a few free ones specifically in Australia time zones that were free and aimed at getting you certified. I thought it only fair that I actually give them a go myself and share my thoughts.
This is the forth one I started and the third one I completed (ie I passed the exam today).
I felt this one was the easiest so far. Because it’s more focused on a particular topic I think for me it’s easier to study for ie not as much memorising names of 100 different things. I’ve used a bunch of the cognitive services since they were in preview. My biggest weakness was definitely the Azure ML Designer as it’s the least used area for me..
Virtual Training Day
I completed the Azure Virtual Training – a half day online training 2 weeks ago. To be honest – I didn’t get a lot of benefit from this as it was basically a video playback of pre-recorded material with someone there to answer questions in the chat. The real benefit in this was getting an exam voucher which essentially gives you a free shot at the exam.
There’s a bunch of training days on that are aimed at particular certifications and will give you a voucher to sit the exam for free. For Australia friendly timed ones look here.
I sat on this voucher awhile and after I did the AWS certification I thought I should probably do the equivalent Microsoft one seeing how I had an exam voucher already.
I used the learning modules related to the exam (see my collection) to read through and take notes on things that were new. There’s some revision questions at the end of each section. I would say the questions here are much easier than the actual exam questions but a good indicator of areas you might want to delve into.
When looking at modelling, I’ve found this cheat sheet really good to point you in the right direction.
I like practice tests to get used to how questions as asked. In a normal environment you’d be able to use the internet, ask follow-up questions and have a discussion. Here – you have to pick the “most appropriate” based solely on the text. For this I tried the following:
This one I WOULD NOT recommend. The questions are basic, repeated, many errors and generally bad quality. I’m usually of the opinion if I use it I should pay for it but in this case I ended up returning it due to the quality.
This was the main one I used. I only went through each test once. I found the questions were probably harder than the actual exam. It has good explanations on both positive and negative answers and good reference links. It also appears harder as multiple selection answers are graded as a pass if you get all selections correct whereas the actual exam you get a point per part of the question.
I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a fan of taking exams. The extra prep I did for this one was as follows:
- I booked the proctored version of the exam which allowed me to take it at home.
- The morning of the exam, I got up early, read through my notes and took the practice exam I had the lowest score on. I then set up my laptop in the room I was going to use, the way I would have to use it and flicked through my notes one last time.
- Took the exam and woohoo I passed
Similar to the AWS and Azure exams, I chose to do the online version of the exam (as opposed to going to a test centre). Having experienced this before this time I had an idea of what to expect ie taking photos of the room etc. Be sure to read the environment requirements as they are quite strict ie: no papers, no dual monitors, no tech (ie smart watches) etc.
For me, my WFH office looks like a cyclone hit it on the best of days and it’s all setup with 2 external monitors etc. I decided the best thing for me was to use my spare bedroom. It’s empty, had a sewing desk and chair and I could easily setup my laptop there and meet the requirements no problems.
Being able to take it at home was so much more accessible. No commuting into town and giving up a few hours of work time just to get there and back.
I have been totally spoilt by the CloudU program in terms of interaction. I felt I didn’t need that for this exam as it felt a lot more practical rather than tricky wording to questions from the other two.