The AZ-104 exam represents the Azure Administrator Associate certification. As I described in my last post, I used AZ-900 as a stepping stone to work towards earning this certification. I signed up for an instructor-led course and dove into some other resources, which are either free or paid. I started halfway through November and I will be taking the exam before the end of 2021.
I decided to share my tips and tricks and the learning tools I used in my preparation for AZ-104, which are globally available over the internet.
Microsoft Learn for Azure
I already spent an entire blog post on using Microsoft Learn for AZ-900. But Microsoft also provides an excellent free course for AZ-104. It takes you right through all the exam topics and it provides detailed lab courses for each topic, that corresponds with the information you have just gathered through the learning modules.
An Azure tenant is required to perform the lab excercises. A free trial tenant can easily be obtained through Microsoft on this page. This allows you to use Azure services and gets you $200 credits to spend in the first 30 days after signing up. The labs guide you through cleaning up your resources after you have completed all tasks, so you won’t be left with high charges in order to study for the exam.
Microsoft Learn is entirely free to use, which makes it a very accessible option for anyone wanting to study for AZ-104.
I used the videos from ITProTV, presented by Adam Gordon and Mike Rodrick. These two men just make learning easy again. Mike is able to present all information in a very understandable way making use of his own Azure tenant, while Gordon asks questions focused on the content to clarify specific subjects. The fact that it’s presented by two people makes it feel more interactive, even though you’re still just watching videos. You’re not just watching someone dumping a whole lot of information on you, but you’re actually listening to a conversation between two people. A great pro of ITPRoTV is that they will also regularly mention which things you will need to know for the exam, or things that are out of scope for the exam. This really helps you focus on the right information, instead of just putting as much knowledge in your brain as you can.
ITProTV really helped me study for the exam, although I did watch some videos on 1.5x speed. I’m easily distracted and this made it easier to follow for me at times.
ITProTV is not a free resource, but if you have your planning in order, you can watch all videos in one month. This will cost you $29 USD (about €26,-) for one month of access to all videos, or $49 USD (about €43,-) for one month if you want to include the labs. I would recommend taking all you can from the videos, but use the free labs that come with the Microsoft Learn modules to make the most out of your money.
The instructor led training is by far the most expensive, but also the most comprehensive option. It provides you with a (virtual) four day course by a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) that includes all exam topics, an Azure test tenant and labs. I had the opportunity to follow an instructor-led course through my employer, led by Leo Visser, an MCT who works at the same company. I found this very useful, however, it would not be my first recommendation to choose the instructor-led course.
With prices ranging between $1000 USD and $2500 USD, this is a large investment for nearly anyone. It was very valuable to me and this was the most helpful part of my learning experience, but if you are able to do some planning yourself and are disciplined enough to study for yourself, I would recommnd combining MS Learn, their labs and the videos from ITProTV, which would be a more budget-friendly option.
My favorite resource in the last stage of the exam preparation is MeasureUp. This is the official practice test platform for Microsoft exams, which provide very good (and often a little more difficult than the exam) questions to help you study. I usually go through each topic first, choosing to show the correct answer after I’ve answered the question. The website provides a thorough explanation of why the correct answer is correct, but also why the wrong answers are wrong. This makes it very easy to pinpoint your weak spots and go back to other resources to study these areas a little more.
Once I feel like I’ve covered all topic, I take a mock certification in MeasureUp, to see how I’m doing. However, don’t get discouraged. I have more often than not failed the mock exams in MeasureUp, only to pass the real exam with a good score.
MindHub offers these practice tests with a 30 day access period for $99 USD (about €91,-) or a 60 day access period for $109 USD (about €101,-). If you plan well, the 30 day access period is more than enough, but when in doubt, it is relatively cheaper to get the 60 day access period. These tests are available at MeasureUp’s own website for the same price.
Time to take the exam
I will be taking the AZ-104 exam on December 30th, to end 2021 with a bang. I’m confident I will pass it, thanks to all the preparation I’ve done. That way, I can start 2022 with a brand new Azure related Microsoft Certification under my belt.
Update: Pearson Vue had an outage, so my exam couldn’t take place on the 30th. However, I immediately rescheduled to January 2nd, and I passed it with a score of 878 points. This means I can now call myself a Microsoft Certificied Azure Administator Associate!