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 first one I started and the second one I completed (ie I passed the exam today).
I feel this one was harder in a way because I’ve been using Azure for so long. The AWS was all new so easier to absorb material. This one for me was finding my gaps and learning the new names for everything as it always seems to change. This is how I prepared for the exam.
Also, after initial training day I completely parked this, did the AWS program and then came back to this one. The meant mentally a switch “between the clouds”. So with fresh AWS services are the front of thought I had to quickly archive that knowledge for later and bring back the Azure ones.
Virtual Training Day
I completed the Azure Virtual Training – 2 half days back in January. 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 or different to the last time I used Azure. I also did all the questions. I wasn’t able to complete some of the exercises as for whatever reason I couldn’t access the sandbox areas and just gave up.
I used this to note down every product and term in my notes with a 1 liner description.
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 was pretty cheap (there was a 15% off deal at the time). There was a free one before you buy also. What I did like about this one was there was a test available per section if you just wanted questions around a particular area. Then there were other tests that had it all mixed in. I did each of these one and wrote notes on any I got wrong. First go on all of these I passed easily. I found the wording on these ones a bit plain and not as tricky as I believe the real test would be so I looked further afield.
This one was a little more expensive but again I’d found a coupon. The questions on this one were a little more complicated in the wording. Did each of the practice tests once through and took notes on anything I got wrong. I passed each of these first go. What I liked about this one was it gave more of a feel for the way the questions are presented in the exam.
Generally – across both of these practice exams the ones I’d gotten wrong mainly boiled down to my not reading the question and/or the answer wording carefully as I was flicking through them quite fast.
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, 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 exam, 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.
While the end result of “passed the exam” were the same – this was a totally different experience to the CloudU program as there was no external support and you are all on your own. It definitely involved much more self-motivation on my part and I don’t think I would have put in the extra bit of effort to sit the exam if I hadn’t done the AWS one and felt a bit silly I had that but not the Azure equivalent.