Developing Solutions for Microsoft Azure AZ-204 is an important certification that all software developers should have. As per the official certification page, candidates should be proficient in Azure SDKs, data storage options, data connections, APIs, app authentication and authorization, compute, and container deployment, debugging, performance tuning, and monitoring.
As you can see, there are a wide variety of topics covered. Additionally, the exam requires the ability to program in a language supported by Azure – C# and/or Python. This exam is not for the faint hearted. However, with proper planning and enough practice, you can do it.
If you are preparing for AZ-204 Developing Solutions for Microsoft Azure, this blog is for you. If you are new to Azure, you should first understand the Azure Fundamentals.
So, let’s get started.
AZ-204 Certification Exam Topics
Make sure you check out the most recent exam guide on the official Microsoft Azure website. At the time of the blog, below are the exam objectives covered and skills measured for this certification:
- Develop Azure compute solutions (25–30%)
- Develop for Azure storage (15–20%)
- Implement Azure security (20–25%)
- Monitor, troubleshoot, and optimize Azure solutions (15–20%)
- Connect to and consume Azure services and third-party services (15–20%)
Resources For AZ-204 Certification
1. There are a couple of options to choose from on Udemy
– Scott Duffy Developer Course – The course does have good labs and examples but you shouldn’t rely on this alone.
– Alan Rodriguez Developer Course – We rated this course higher than Scott, and it has everything current for the exam.
2. Microsoft does have its own resources to prepare which are pretty good and reliable. Scroll down to the learning path on this page and you have everything you need to prepare.
3. For practice tests, browse Udemy. The tests may be reliable but the explanations or answers could be highly unreliable. You can use Measure Up Practice Exams for AZ 204 if you want to simulate the exam before the actual one. These are slightly expensive.
4. Free Flashcards on ReviewNPrep to help you memorize the key concepts and terms.
5. Check out the labs from official Microsoft learning Github.
6. Microsoft recommends that you know C# or Python to take this certification. If you are okay paying for a course, check out this link for some courses.
How hard is the AZ-204 exam?
If you have some prior experience with the AZ-204 exams topics, they can range from passable (easy) to difficult (hard). The exam aims to verify what you’ve learned with 1-2 year’s development experience in Azure, which means you should have some real world experience.
In the actual exam you can expect multiple types of questions – multiple choice, drag/drop, scenarios, labs etc.
AZ-204 Exam Details
1. Exam Time: Exam is timed for 150 minutes
2. Total Questions: You can expect around 40 questions as multiple choice. You’ll also see a case study (you can get more than 1) with additional questions (around 6-10).
3. Questions Format: You will also see drag and drop or drop-down question-answers. The idea being you pull the answers to the right boxes or select the right answer from the dropdown.
4. Exam Cost: $165 USD
5. Passing Score: You need a 700 or higher to pass the AZ-204 exam and gain your Azure Developer Associate badge.
Microsoft Azure Developer Associate AZ-204 Exam Tips
1. My first one which is universal and applicable for all multiple-choice questions – process of elimination if you aren’t sure of the right answer.
2. Go through the study guide. Sometimes the teaching materials don’t cover all the topics. The official guide has links to all the free learning paths.
3. Microsoft has a very comprehensive documentation on each and every topic. Make sure you glance through it for the topics that sound confusing to you before the exam.
4. Flashcards to help you remember important terms and topics. Like all other exams, unfortunately, you have to memorize certain topics to pass these certifications. Check them out on reviewNprep.com. You can create your own flashcards on the portal and share it with others.
5. Familiarize yourself with the Azure Portal. The importance of hands on labs is a must. Also, gain some experience using and Powershell and CLI commands. Usually, the commands in questions are intuitive to choose from. But, you still need some hands on experience.
6. Because this is a developer certification, some of the questions are very syntax heavy. For coding language, you can choose between C# or Python. At the start of the exam, it will ask whether you want code snippets in C# or Python. To give an example, it will ask you to fill in the blank for a certain class implementation.
7. The case study is a generally a lot of text to read but you don’t have to read through all of it. Focus on keywords while answering these questions.
8. There are questions which you would not be able to go back to once you have marked your answer choice. So, plan accordingly!
9. While all the topics in the study guide are important, I’m listing a few important ones:
- Azure Cosmos db – Try to create a container in the portal, and try to insert, delete records. You might see questions that have a query and will be asked the results of execution. Also, remember the consistency levels of Strong, Consistent Prefix, Bounded Staleness, Eventual. Be aware of what to use when.
- Azure WebApps – Create a webApp in the portal multiple times. Remember you need an app service plan first. Familiarize yourself with all the plan types offered – Free and Shared, Basic, Premium, Isolated. I’m sure you will see a few questions here.
- Azure WebJobs – While the exam will not ask you on how to code a webjob but remember the series of steps to create a WebJob. Understand the difference between continuous and triggered.
- As part of security, learn the usage of Key-Vault, especially with Disk Encryption to store keys and secrets. I remember seeing questions around “Always Encrypted” and OAUTH.
- LogicApps – Remember to create a logic app in the portal. It is important and in my opinion fun as well. I created a logic app to read keywords from Tweets and send an email straight to your inbox. Understand when to use the enterprise integration pack.
- Queues – A very important topic for which you will see few questions. Understand the options enabled in portal like sessions, partitioning, dead letter queue. I did get some code related syntax questions here. Another important point to remember in queues is Topic Filter and Actions.
- On a similar note, a topic of confusion is often the use cases for Azure message-based solutions – Azure Functions, Event Grid, Event Hubs, and Azure Service Bus
- One of the major selling point of Azure is its Active Directory, so it should not come as a surprise that you will see questions related to AAD in the exam. Few important concepts are Azure B2B, B2C, PIM, User Authentication (including MFA), Application Management and usage of managed identity from AAD.
- Compute (Virtual Machines) is an important topic. Related topic is also caching and content delivery. Know how to invalidate the cache. You will see a question or two around application cache patterns.
- Remember, this is a developer certification – you might see some syntax related questions.
- Under Application Insights, remember to check all topics like Funnels, Cohorts, Impact, Retention, User Flows etc.
- Know the differences between tiers and plans for various services, especially with limitations, scaling features
Microsoft gives $200 credits for every new email that you sign up with. The credits are valid just for a month. Not sure if I’ve taken advantage of the system to learn something new, but, so far, I’ve used 3 emails to learn in depth most of the services Azure offers. Remember to tear down your environments so that you don’t end up burning all your credits before the time expires.
If you have developed cloud applications in your career, this exam would not be difficult for you to pass. However, do not ignore the topics listed in the exam outline. For everyone else, give yourself quality time preparing for this certification. It is recommended that you should take 2-3 months before you appear for the exam preparation.
Continuous learning is an important part of being a software developer. Remember that besides the certification, one of you objective should be to understand the core concepts of Azure cloud.
Good luck on your exam!