I took the Azure Developer (AZ-203) exam recently and managed to successfully pass it in my first attempt. While I’m not an active developer any more, I do like to evaluate my knowledge, learn new things and stay in touch with the latest and greatest technologies. I have been preparing for the AZ-303 Azure Architect Exam (Beta) for quite some time now, so I thought to evaluate my knowledge against the developer exam. I didn’t score too high and had a score of 780. If you are developer, I’m sure you will knock the ball out of the park.
Below is a quick snapshot of my performance in the exam.
So, let’s start with the preparation journey:
1. I purchased Scott Duffy Developer course from Udemy for $10. The course does have good labs and examples but if you just want to rely on this course, I’m sure it’s not a good idea and the chances of passing are low.
2. Microsoft does have its own resources to prepare which are pretty good and reliable.
3. Scott Duffy’s course does have practice exam for 50 questions. I don’t think there was a single question in the exam from there.
4. I purchased practice exam questions from Whizlabs for $8. It did help but not sure if the explanations are good and answers to some of the questions is incorrect. But worth practicing for the exam.
5. I would recommend taking Alan Rodrigues course from Udemy for $10 which can save you money and you don’t have to buy Whizlabs and Scott Duffy’s course.
1. Exam is timed for 150 minutes and has around 40 questions as multiple choice plus a case study for additional questions (around 6-10). 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.
2. The case study is a generally a lot of text to read but you don’t have to read through all of it.
3. There are questions which you would not be able to go back to once you have marked your answer choice.
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.
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. I have started my own flashcards to help you remember important terms and topics. Like all other exams, unfortunately, you have to memorize certain topics to pass these certs. Check them out on reviewNprep.com. I’ll keep adding more and if you wish to contribute please contact me via LinkedIn.
5. The exam will not judge you on your coding skills. However, this being a developer exam, familiarize yourself with the Azure Portal. I cannot stress enough the importance of hands on lab. Check Pro-Tip below.
6. While all the topics in the study guide are important, I’m listing a few important ones:
- Cosmos db – Try to create a container in 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.
- 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 few questions here.
- 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 messaging services – Event Grid, Event Hubs, and Service Bus
- One of the major selling point of Azure is its Active Directory, so it should not come as surprise that you will see questions related to AAD in the exam. Few important concepts are Azure B2B, B2C, PIM, Authentication (including MFA), Application Management and usage of managed identity from AAD.
- Compute is an important topic. Related topic is also caching. I’m sure you will see a question or two around this topic. Know how to invalidate the cache.
- You might see some syntax related questions.
- Under Application Insights, remember to check all topics like Funnels, Cohorts, Impact, Retention, User Flows etc.
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.
Preparing for AZ-204. What Changes?
AZ-203 will soon be replaced by AZ-204, but the course outline doesn’t change by much. Here is the guide for you.
1. Develop Azure compute solutions (
2. Develop for Azure storage (
3. Implement Azure security (15-20%)
4. Monitor, troubleshoot, and optimize Azure solutions (10-15%)
5. Connect to and consume Azure services and third-party services (
25- 30 20-25%)
Noteworthy changes in AZ-204
Looking at the changes, not much has changed from the original exam guide.
1. Being a developer, you need to understand compute, so the weightage has increased there and reduced for storage. The document says Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS) is out of scope which is a big surprise to me. However, container images using Docker solutions is still in.
2. I’m surprised to see weightage reduced for connect to Azure services and third-party services.
Other than that, the exam should more or less be the same.
Good luck on your exam!
Author: Haman Sharma is a graduate from UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School and an avid cloud technologist. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.