Certifications / Microsoft

How Hard is the AZ-900?

by John Himes
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Published on August 31, 2020

Microsoft's Azure Fundamentals certification is designed for both IT and non-technical professionals who wish to validate foundational understanding and knowledge of cloud services — particularly those provided by Microsoft Azure. With that being said, a little training in Microsoft Azure basics can benefit the business and IT crowd alike.

Because cloud computing is steadily dominating enterprise infrastructure, showing proficiency in Azure is a solid career choice. No matter whether you want to be a cloud developer, a business decision-maker, or even if you are in sales and marketing.

If you're thinking about sitting for the AZ-900 exam, you need to think about your strategy — and how the certification fits into your career trajectory. You probably have lots of questions. Do I have enough experience for AZ-900? How many hours should I study? And what kind of questions will be on the test? How hard is the AZ-900 exam?

Let's go through the details and then discuss the difficulty level of the Azure Fundamentals certification exam.

What is the AZ-900 Exam?

The AZ-900 exam tests a professional's understanding of cloud concepts, core Azure services, security, privacy, compliance and trust, and Azure pricing and support.

This exam includes general concepts like scalability, elasticity, and IaaS vs. PaaS. You will also need to be able to recognize and understand Azure-specific technologies like Azure IoT Hub, Azure ML, and Azure SQL DB. You can find the exam topics breakdown here.

The exam costs $99 USD, contains 40 to 60 questions, and has an 85-minute time limit. A passing score is 700 points or roughly 70 percent.

As an entry-level exam, AZ-900 is a launchpad for a variety of cloud-based roles and other certifications. It's designed to build the foundation professionals need to pursue cloud-based roles.

Once attained, professionals can branch out into various roles based on more specific associate-level exams, such as AZ-103 for Azure Administrator or AZ-203, Developing Solutions for Microsoft Azure. Eventually, professionals can reach expert level certifications via exams such as AZ-300, Microsoft Azure Architect Technologies.

How Hard is AZ-900?

As an entry-level exam that's suitable for nontechnical professionals, the AZ-900 is certainly on the easy side compared to other IT exams. But don't mistake it for a walk in the park. To pass, you'll need a good study plan, and if you are new to cloud technologies, the material can be complex — even if you have IT experience.

Still, according to Perth Ngarmtrakulchol, it's possible to pass the AZ-900 exam after just three days of full-time studying, which is much shorter than other IT certification exams. Other professionals, such as Shane Bartholomeusz, spent a month reviewing the material prior to passing the exam. The general consensus is somewhere between these two poles: usually a week or two.

The AZ-900 exam takes a high-level approach to cloud computing knowledge. For instance, you might be asked why a command is used, rather than to provide or identify the command. It doesn't go too far into the weeds when it comes to technical knowledge — but instead will challenge your broad understanding of the Azure platform.

How to Pass the AZ-900 Exam

Microsoft provides free training materials, and although these are valuable resources, it's hard to replace an in-depth and personalized experience that you get from instructor-led training like CBT Nuggets.

You need to know how to move Azure VM between subscriptions. Understand Network Security Group and Azure Advisor. Recognize and name the differences between IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS.

Once you have a good grasp on the subject, take practice exams to test your knowledge. Not only will this show you areas that you need to improve in, but also help build your confidence for test day. If you can consistently score 80% or higher on practice exams, then you're likely ready for the test. But to be safe, we recommend 90% percent or higher.

Another great strategy is to spend some time using the Azure platform. Sign up for a trial and poke around. Explore the different tools and services. Hands-on experience is the best teacher, and having this frame of reference can go a long way on test day.

The Verdict: AZ-900 is Relatively Easy

At first glance, the AZ-900 exam appears to be one of the easiest IT certifications on the market, but that doesn't mean it isn't challenging. It's still an IT exam, and most of them are dense, if not difficult.

The reason that IT is such a lucrative career is that it takes time, effort, and dedication to become proficient. The same is true for exams that validate IT skills. This makes AZ-900 a great place to start if you want to pursue a cloud-based role. It ensures you have the basic foundation needed to work with cloud technologies.


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