I’ve recently earned the AZ-900 Azure Fundamentals certification. Here, I want to share my personal experience and the resources that I used and developed to get there.

I decided to embrace the challenge of this certification because my work project switched recently to Azure DevOps. So, I wanted to gain more expertise in Azure. For sure, the Azure Developer Associate certification would have been a better fit to this need. However, I thought that the Azure Fundamentals was a hanging fruit that would have helped me to start my Azure journey. Honestly, I’m not a big fan of certifications. Why? I don’t believe that a certification exam can reliably measure your knowledge. Moreover, being proficient in a topic does not mean that you’ll pass the correspective certification exam. Said that, I think that a certification is a useful encouragement if you want to gain knowledge in a particular field.

How much time is needed to earn the AZ-900?

Some people asked me how much time is needed to earn the AZ-900. Probably, apart from your starting point, it totally depends on your real goal. Do you want to simply obtain the certification or do you want to improve your knowledge about Azure? If your focus is the certification itself, a couple of days of well oriented study is more than enough. A vertical reading of the official documentation 1 and enough practices with exam simulations will give you confidence to obtain what you want. On the other hand, if your goal is like me to be more proficient with Azure, I will say that it is worth investing a full week of preparation. However, let’s see together my recommended resources and you’ll get a better idea of the effort needed.

How it Started

I personally started reading other people’s experiences. Exactly like you are doing right now! For example, I finally decided to get the AZ-900 badge after reading Olga Martì’s blog post 2. Then, I found very useful the post of Perth Ngarmtrakulchol3, where apart from summarizing the exam itself and the exam content, he also provided very useful advice. Subsequently, I decided to attend a Microsoft Azure Virtual Training Day 4. This was a two days virtual event, 6 hours in total, with Microsoft Trainers that provided a 10,000 foot view of the Azure fundamentals and… a free voucher to get the AZ-900. You get the point.. At the end if you think better the Microsoft idea is smart. You invest your time and maybe your money to read and learn about a lot of marketing material about Azure.. Not bad!
In order to know where to focus your study, I strongly recommend, to read carefully the exam official documentation 1 and the details of the skills measured 5. Borrowing an expression from Donald Rumsfeld, I would say that at this point I already had the full picture of my known unknowns. However, before getting started with the real study I wanted to know what was the likelihood to pass the exam without preparation. So, I tried the free exam simulation offered by Whizlabs6 and not surprisingly I did not pass the simulation. Not so badly, however it was the confirmation that the AZ-900 is not as easy as pie. Taking into account that on Whizlab, there is only one free test available, my recommendation is to save it for the end when you are almost ready for the real exam. On the other hand, the simulation confirmed my gut feelings. I was already more than ready about sections like Cloud Concepts, Security and SLA. But I was missing familiarity for example with some Azure services and governance features.

Here I learnt

I started studying all the 6 learning paths about Microsoft Azure Fundamentals in the official documentation 1. This should be your real source of information. It is well done, quite comprehensive and all you can be asked in the exam is there. I have only a negative note about it. Sometimes you have the feeling of reading marketing material: Azure is the best cloud provider and so on.. However, I totally recommend it. The documentation states that it takes roughly 13 hours to be studied. However, this is up to you. For example, there are some practical exercises to experiment with the Azure portal, like create a VM, deploy a WordPress, create resources by the Cloud Shell. Here, I personally spent a lot of time playing with the Azure subscription that I have available with Visual Studio Enterprise. At the end, this is the more funny part and it is very useful for the exam. There are questions that can be answered easily only if you are confident with the Azure portal. I also invested additional time in these learning paths because I have created my flashcards 78 to better persist the information in my head. In general, I found the spaced repetition method a very powerful cognitive technique to memorize things effectively. Formulating the questions in the card is already an effort that helps you to digest the information and force you to understand the concept. Then, reviewing the flashcard with the cadence proposed by the Anki mobile application helps you to write in stone these concepts. If you want to take advantage of these flashcards, I published my AZ-900 collection on the Anki Web site 7 and an export is available in my github 8. I will say that the more interesting part of these learning paths is to get to know all the Azure services that are available. The amount of services available is really huge, it spawns from databases, serverless, IoT, AI, networking, VM, devops, security, storage and so on… Really reading these stuffs, I got tempted to start studying for the Azure AI Fundamentals and for the Azure Data Fundamentals certifications in order to know more on these fields. I also enjoyed reading the section explaining the availability zones of Azure. It’s very fascinating the state of the art that guarantees the reliability of modern data centers.

Measure Yourself

Until now, it was the funny part: studying to know more and experimenting. I have bad news. Probably it’s not enough to pass the exam! Sadly, exams always have stubness and trickies. It is like getting a driving licence in Italy. You can drive like a pro, but this does not mean that you’ll pass the theoretical exam. At least if you don’t do a lot of theoretical exam simulations. Here is the same. Sometimes the exam questions can be misunderstood and not completely clear. My suggestion is to do some simulation before the exam. It will help you to take confidence with the exam style. There is tons of material available with some free trial. For example the already mentioned Whizlabs 6, ItExams 9, certlibrary 10. You can also find questions on YouTube 11. Try some questions, discover your weak points and go back to studying to improve it. When you are consistently getting more than 80%, then you are ready for applying to the official exam.

How It Ended

I did the exam choosing the option from home, not a surprise in Covid time! I took advantage of the free voucher I got attending the Microsoft Training Days 4. The good thing is that you can book the exam the same day. I personally did not like the dynamic from home. It was a little bit uncomfortable to do the exam while people are looking at you in your home. For example, I need to wait to do the exam in the night in order to be sure that the kids did not jump in my room with the risk of invalidating the exam. However, luckily all was fine and I passed the exam without any problem. To summarize, I enjoyed the journey that I have done to earn the AZ-900. More than the badge itself, I learn a bunch of useful information. And I think now I can go for the next step to achieve the Azure Developer Associate. If you read until here, you are probably interested in getting the AZ-900, so I hope my resources can be useful for you and I wish you: “In bocca al lupo!”

Summary of Resources in Logical Order

  1. Official documentation about the exam
    https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/learn/certifications/exams/az-900  2 3

  2. Olga Martì experience and resources about AZ-900

  3. Perth Ngarmtrakulchol post. Azure AZ-900 Exam Preparation Guide: How to pass in 3 days

  4. Microsoft Training Days: a virtual training to get a free voucher for AZ-900
    https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/trainingdays  2

  5. Microsoft Certified Azure Fundamentals – Skills Measured

  6. Free and Practice Tests on Whizlabs
    https://www.whizlabs.com/microsoft-azure-certification-az-900/  2

  7. The Anki Card I have created studying the Azure Fundamentals Learning Paths
    https://ankiweb.net/shared/info/1438451694  2

  8. The Anki Card available on this blog
    https://github.com/CorradoTorino/corradotorino.github.io/blob/master/_attachment/flashcards-AZ-900-azure-fundamentals.txt  2

  9. Preparation questions on ItExams

  10. Preparation questions on certlibrary

  11. Preparation questions on YouTube