Study Time for MDAA, According to People Who Took the MD-100 and MD-101

by Ross Heintzkill | Published on August 31, 2023

The MDAA is one of Microsoft's most popular certifications because it is a generalist's dream. Intended for anyone who works with Windows devices in essentially any capacity, having the MDAA tells an employer that you're ready to handle whatever comes your way. Earning the MDAA is a sign of an ambitious and dedicated IT professional, and it will help you land a job – but how long does it take to prepare for the MDAA certification exams?

To find out how long you should plan on preparing for the MDAA, CBT Nuggets surveyed IT professionals who have earned it and asked them how long it takes to study for the Modern Desktop Administration Associate exams. The results came in through Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram, and the responses paint a picture about what time commitment to expect for earning the MDAA.

How long did most people need to study for the MDAA?

According to the results of our most recent study, most IT professionals either needed less than 6 weeks to prepare for the MDAA, or as much as 5 months. 41% of IT professionals reported needing less than 6 weeks to prepare for the MDAA certifying exam, while a combined 41% also reported needing somewhere between 6 weeks and 5 months. 19% of people reported needing more than 5 months.

CBT Nuggets has reported previously on how long it takes to study for the MDAA in the past. But Microsoft will release a new exam in the near future for MDAA and we decided to revisit the topic. Additionally, we've analyzed how long it takes to study for only the MD-100. Combined with this one, those reports can give insight to what to expect from the MD-102 when Microsoft makes it live.

Our most recent results align very closely with the findings of the surveys we put into the field in early 2022. Seeing that roughly the same number of people needed less than 6 weeks to prepare for the MDAA as needed up to 5 months to prepare for it suggests that the major difference between those two groups is the quality of study materials and how diligent learners were in their study habits.

How should you prepare ahead of taking MD-100 and MD-101? 

The new version of the MDAA test, MD-102, isn't making the previous versions obsolete – it's simply updating and combining elements of both. That's why the time it takes to prepare for the MD-100 and MD-101 combined will be roughly the same needed to prepare for the MD-102. It seems the MD-102 will drop some Azure and Active Directory topics and Conditional Access policies, but otherwise most of the content will simply be updated to the most recent Windows requirements.

Therefore, your best bet for preparing for the certifying exam for MDAA is with a study plan that breaks down all the topics on the test and shows you the ideal amount of time to spend preparing for each section. That way, if you're caught between the versions of the test, you can use that study plan to see what remains valid and what you need to still focus on.

That also means that whatever you would have done to prepare for the MD-100 and MD-101 is going to remain valuable as you prepare for the MDAA. At the time of this writing, the MDAA certifying exams are still MD-100 and MD-101. Microsoft has made a habit of providing a period of overlap where previous versions remain valid during the same time as new tests are available, so once MD-102 is released and available, you can find out exactly how much longer you can safely prepare by way of MD-100 and MD-101.

Tips to make sure you’re test-ready before MDAA exam day:

Regardless of what version of the test you're taking, the fundamentals of the MDAA exam don't change. You need to know and understand how devices and networks running Microsoft tech operate and you need to have skills managing and administering them. If you want to prepare for the MDAA in as little time as possible, find an online MDAA course that walks you through the exam learning objectives and gives you opportunities to practice the real-world skills of administration you'll need to pass the MDAA.

Use virtual labs

The Modern Desktop Administrator Associate certification is all about the fundamental skills necessary for managing networks of Windows machines. Not many people have hands-on access to enterprise-scale networks of hundreds of computers you can fool around with and apply whatever settings you want. So you'll have to use virtual labs instead. A virtual lab lets you apply configurations, make changes and click any button while acting exactly like a real computer or network would, but there's no danger of breaking anything. Virtual labs significantly decrease the time it takes to prepare for the MDAA.

Test yourself using practice exams

The people who were able to prepare for the MDAA in less than 6 weeks probably went into the test fully confident they were going to pass thanks to practice exams. Take a practice exam not just to learn what the tests are like, but also get a sense of what you have yet to master and skip the parts you're confident in. Practice exams make preparing for the Modern Desktop Administrator Associate faster and more efficient.

Learn from the experts

Last, always take courses from vetted bona fide experts. For example, James Conrad. With dozens of years and certifications under his belt, James isn't just a veteran Microsoft administrator, he also knows how Microsoft has changed and evolved their exams over the years and so he can help make sure that when MD-102 does roll out, you're prepared for it. If you want to see what his teaching style is like, click here to watch the first video in the MDAA series for free. When Microsoft makes MD-102 the official exam for the Modern Desktop Administrator Associate, you'll want to be prepared. The CBT Nuggets MDAA training will provide you with the foundation you need to make the jump from MD-100 and MD-101 to MD-102 a tiny one. You'll be ready for the MDAA in as short a time as possible. Or you can take the MDAA course right now, finish it as fast as possible and test for your MDAA before the MD-102 is even online. Try a free week of CBT Nuggets membership and see how many other certs you could earn and where your career could go.

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