Tips for studying and passing Microsoft certificate exams – Updated (Ignite) version

Microsoft Learn | Microsoft Docs

This an hyper-boosted revised version of my last guide for passing Microsoft exams so let’s get going.

Ignite 2021 and learning challenge

So Ignite is coming in couple of weeks (virtually and hopefully for the last time) with a three day stretch of information packed action.

During ignite there is a Cloud skills learning challenge that you can get free credits from against your certification exams.

So be sure to register to Ignite and complete she challenge but also get some good info from Microsoft PM’s during those three days.

I do miss the Ignite conferences where insane amount people were stacked in one city and were seeking new info for the whole week. Networking during the day and night but also eating excellent burgers and locally drafted beers while doing so.

Well, hopefully next year things are back to normal with the pandemic.

Prepping for the test

I always like to make exams tests online and noting out the areas that I see hardest for me. Then I do some Googling for the aspect of interest. First I look at Microsoft official documentation and then seeing other peoples blogs. There is insane amount of information out there, but it isn’t always accurate. There is old versions used, bad instructions etc. so don’t always blindly trust what you read.

Testing in lab – M365 based services

Online service providers make this one easier to accomplish. You can provision a virtual Windows Server almost in any one of them. I use Azure for testing because I get free credits thru my MCT certification.

For Microsoft partners there is also one other excellent place for demo purposes. You need to login with our corporate credentials to access the content.

If you can provisioning a pre-hydrated environment with users and data. It makes easier to see how the solutions function in real-life.

If you don’t have access to thru partnership tp you can get your own trial tenant for testing purposes.

Do you need more time to try out the features of Microsoft 365 for business before buying? If your trial subscription is within 15 days of expiring and the trial hasn’t been extended before then you can extend your trial for another 30 day period. You can only do this one time.

Brake stuff, fix them, try again and repeat. You don’t have to be too sensitive with anything, be curious about different scenarios and google google google then repeat again.

Testing environments – Azure services

If you want to try those Azure services out, you can sign to Azure free trial subscription.

What you will get?

You can get trial version of all the different services for a certain period of time.

What is the right learning path for you?

Are you in the beginning of your learning path and don’t know what role to choose? This could be tricky if you don’t have a specific role for any of the services or you come from on-premises roles and trying to update your know-how to modern ways of working.

Have not fear, Microsoft has a certification poster for this reason that has links for the corresponding tests and learning paths.

Or you could use MyLearning which was made by Maxim Salnikov from Microsoft Norway.

Or go can use Microsoft Pathways site which is shared in LinkedIn by Paul Griffiths who is Training Program Manager at Microsoft.

In Pathways you will content like below, full of links and all the essential info about the certification in one nice pdf file.

And a lot more, please sure to check it out!

AZ-500 – Quick tip!

Just a quick tip on one excellent collection of study material from Deepanshu Sood that he combined from different sources. Excellent!

Learning portals

I like to watch videos, I always watch them at 1.5x speed sometimes even 2.0x speed. You can really get all the stuff even if you watch them at faster speed, less time, more to learn.

Here is some of my favorite sites for videos.


With Udemy you have access to videos from world-class instructors and people can score the course so it’s easier for you to choose a one having highest score if preferred.

Udemy has an excellent mobile app and it works when your screen is closed. So you can only “Podcast” the video when walking with your pet or to work.

Udemy has prices as low as 9,99€ and they have a lot of offers all the time so be sure to check them and you don’t have to pay the full price for the course. Although the courses are so excellent that you even could pay more for them.

Once you buy Udemy course they will be available forever and updated when materials change. You will see your progress and can continue with mobile device if started with website and vice-versa.


If you want to have Enterprise grade content and everything available for you in the same portal, then Pluralsight is your choice.

Pluralsight has a test exams for your when your start your journey and it gives and your Skills IQ and roadmap what to learn more based on the exam.

This is really nice feature and it’s hasn’t make an mistake yet for my at least.

Pluralsight is way more expensive than Udemy is but if your organization provides it why not.

Moneywise and for Personal learning experience I personally would choose Udemy because of their frequent sales pricing.

Reserving the exam

This a really simple process, at least when you have done it couple of times. The hardest part is to reserve the time that you want, until you have done the credit card process (if not using vouchers) the time isn’t locked for you. One time I wanted a certain time and tried to book it over 15 times and failed.

The process is simple go to

then browse and find your exam from the list.

On the pic above you can see the exam and the certification that it will give when you pass.

Then go down on the page and choose “Schedule with Pearsion VUE”

During Covid Microsoft made possible to make a test as an un-employed or as a student. I won’t be covering this one as it is in a completely different portal, but excellent offer from them!

When you schedule you will need the Microsoft Account. You will get your MCP ID when you pass the test and it will be associated with that specific MS Account.

Then you have to fill your personal info, choose the EXACT name in your driving license, it will be hard to change afterwards.

Next you can choose the vouchers if you have them and you can link your organizational account to see the vouchers your employer has made available for you.

Then you will choose your prefered location for the test.

And see what is needed.

Notes from the field (Online test)

Couple of things about the area and the do not’s in during the test.

  • Video and microphone must be on during the whole test.
  • Papers must not be near. They will check from the floor also.
  • If there is a TV in the room the cables must be removed.
  • Any possible tattoos could be checked.
  • 360 pictures will be taken of the room where the test is performed in the beginning.
  • You are not allowed to use mobile hotspot. If your network fails during the test, you don’t have a way to change the network connections. So you better make it available and working during the whole test.
  • Driving license or passport and picture on both sides before starting the test.
  • No one can enter the testing space or you could be revoked.
  • Don’t speak anything out loud, English isn’t my native language so I tend to read out loud the questions for my Finnish brain to realize them. This apparently isn’t allowed.

When you are done with the booking you will get an email with the time and instructions how to attend.

Notes from the field (Classroom test)

  • When performed on site, your eyeglasses are checked for cameras.
  • No drinks or food will be allowed.
  • Also no telephone in the room. There is lockers where your can leave your personal stuff.
  • There will be note equipment in the test space, which is not allowed to take with you after the test.

Classroom test providers in Finland are (not all of them in this list) they also provide technology training.

And only for training purposes this is an excellent partner.

In both cases you will get the result immediately after the exams, only beta exams will provide the result later on.

The test itself

The exams consist of multiple-choice questions, case studies (which cannot be returned once you have answered) and labs (not during Covid) Usually there is five different categories. 700 / 1000pts is required for passing and the score remains in your knowledge and won’t be shared externally. You have about 3-3.5hrs to do the test, but you can finish quicker if you feel smart that day.

Renewing the certification (Online during Covid)

As of today the certifications will be good for period of 1 year, but you can renew them with online test.

Why to get certified, what it means to you

I will get employed or just define your know-how for yourself, employer and customers.

When Microsoft changed tests to role-based they show more what you do best.

Of course you can challenge your self and try to certify for stuff that you don’t know, but if you don’t practice those within your work, your will loose the competence real quick.

The below study is from Pearson VUE which is the testing center for Microsoft certifications and many others.

What is means for your employer

Microsoft partners get benefits from the competencies. Competency level is a combination of sales, consumption and skilled people who have certificates.

Here is the catch for your employer, they will be seen to Microsoft and even customer cases need certified people.

Final thoughts

So there are many benefits on becoming certified, there is really no reason not to. If you deal with Microsoft as your work, you should.

I booked yet another test for myself because I want to keep learning and sharing info.

Over and out,

Keep Calm and Keep Learning | Keep calm quotes, Calm quotes, Keep calm
Author: Harri Jaakkonen

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