A few weeks ago I sat and passed the Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions (70-535) exam at a test centre near me; yes I still prefer going to a test centre rather than doing an online proctored exam.
This exam was probably one of the toughest I have taken and certainly one of the hardest in terms of studying and preparing for. The breadth of topics, features and services to cover are vast!
So in this post I thought I would share my experience from studying to taking the exam. Even though this exam retires on the 31st December 2018, the techniques and material will still be valid for the new AZ-300/301/302 exams and certification path.
Please note you can only take the AZ-302 if you have passed this exam (70-535)!
Preparation - What To Study
As with every exam I take it is important to understand what the exam will actually test you on; learning material that you wont be tested on maybe fun and enjoyable, but it won’t help you pass the exam.
To do this I used the exam overview page here.
Using this web page I review the “Skills measured” section with great detail looking for various pieces of vital information.
Firstly the section explaining the areas and the split of them in the exam:
I note down on a OneNote page each service/feature/topic mentioned so I ensure I revise each of them.
I also lookout for exam updates, these are normally just in normal text (not highlighted or in red) and normally look something like the below: These are very important to find if they exist for your chosen exam; they normally do for older exams! They provide an update on the “Skills measured” section/topic splits alongside new features/services to study etc… and also ones to now ignore as they have been retired/replaced.
Preparation - Revision Tools & Resources
For this particular exam I used several tools to help me study all of the required material.
Firstly I purchased Scott Duffy’s course on Udemy for the exam; link here.
I also purchased the Microsoft Official Exam Ref guide book for the exam.
Preparation - Method
As for my revision approach I do the following, however everybody learns differently so this may not work for you.
Firstly I watch all of the videos for a particular feature/service from either Scott Duffy’s Udemy Course or Microsoft Channel 9. And whilst watching I jot down rough notes in OneNote.
Once I’ve watched the videos I then further detail and refine my notes by using the relevant pages on Microsoft Azure Docs.
And then either in the evening before going to sleep or early in the morning as I eat breakfast I read the same section in the Exam Ref guide book.
This means I will of read the information 3 times, so hopefully some of it has stuck in my brain by now!
One important thing to note is that I never revise for more than 20 minutes straight. After 20 minutes has elapsed I find the quality of information being taken in by my brain is not as good and only leads to me re-revising.
After I have done this for all of the topics/features/services I need to revise I then review my notes for a specific area each day (mainly the ones I don’t use on a daily basis)
The exam is the same style as most Microsoft exams I have taken in the past, multiple choice with different style questions like drag and drop and scenario based etc…
One thing I cannot stress enough is to book the exam at least a month before you wish to take the exam, this will force you to revise daily.
The questions I had in my exam were exactly as expected based on the exam overview page, however it was more up-to-date on features and services than I expected.
For example some of the networking questions mentioned Azure VWAN and ExpressRotue Direct, luckily I check the Azure blog at least daily for new features of note for my daily job role.
As the exam will retire I won’t mention much more about the exam in this post. Apart from it really was quite tough and revision of all topics mentioned is definitely recommended.
Hopefully my preparation steps and advice will help a lot of you pass any exam you are about to take as these skills are universal across pretty much any exam and vendor.
If you do have any specific questions around what to look out for for Azure Architecture exams then feel free to comment below or reach out to me on Twitter.