Khosi Nkomo

Khosi Nkomo


Insights from Passing the Azure AZ-204 Developer Certification on the First Try

Monday May 22, 2023

The Azure Developer Certification exam can seem daunting at first, but with the right mindset and preparation process, passing first time can be achievable. In this blog post, I wanted to share some of my insights on how I was able to achieve success, I will discuss the strategies and resources that I found most useful, and i will talk about the exam experience itself.

Why get certified?

After obtaining the AZ-204 certification, I can say that it has been a fairly transformative milestone in my professional career. It has enabled me to stay updated with industry trends, ensuring my knowledge of the latest Azure development concepts, tools, and techniques. Overall it has been is a confidence boost allowing me to approach challenges with confidence, armed with practical experience in architecting and implementing Azure solutions.

Why should you not get certified?

While the AZ-204 certification offers numerous benefits, there may be reasons why someone may choose not to pursue it. Here are a few considerations:

  1. Alternative career goals: If your career aspirations lie outside the realm of Azure development or cloud computing, investing time and resources in obtaining the AZ-204 certification may not align with your professional objectives. You need to evaluate whether the certification is relevant to your desired career path.
  2. If you do not have a genuine interest or passion for Azure development, pursuing the AZ-204 certification may not provide a fulfilling experience. The certification demands dedication, extensive study, and hands-on experience. Personally, there were specific aspects of the platform that I had little interest in, but I persevered to complete the certification. However, without genuine enthusiasm for the majority of the subject matter, the certification process may become overwhelmingly burdensome.
  3. Time and resource constraints: Pursuing a certification requires a significant investment of time and resources. This was my biggest issue, I had to allocate A LOT of time in order to pass. If you have other pressing commitments or limited availability to dedicate to exam preparation, it might be challenging to allocate the necessary time and effort required to pass the AZ-204 certification.
  4. Industry-specific requirements and other certifications or qualifications are important factors to consider when deciding whether to pursue the AZ-204 certification. Depending on your industry and job role, the certification may not be mandatory or highly regarded. In my case, as an architect with 20 years of experience, the certification was not crucial for my career opportunities. However, I chose to pursue it because it compelled me to gain comprehensive knowledge of Azure. While it may not be necessary for career advancement, it was a valuable learning experience. It’s essential to research the specific certification requirements and preferences in your field to determine its relevance and value.
  5. Additionally, if you already possess other certifications or qualifications that demonstrate your skills and expertise in Azure development, acquiring the AZ-204 certification may not be essential. It is important to assess your existing credentials and evaluate if they adequately align with your professional goals. Consider whether your current certifications showcase your capabilities in Azure development sufficiently before deciding to pursue the AZ-204 certification.

The study process

I successfully passed the exam within a two-month timeframe. One of the initial steps I took was to schedule my test with Pearsons VUE even before beginning my exam preparations. By doing this, I established a concrete deadline for myself, adding a sense of urgency and importance to my study plan. This approach helped me stay focused and committed throughout the preparation process.

The following is my study schedule that I used to pass the exam on the first try:

Month 1:

Week 1: Setup – ARM & Key Vault Topics

  • Familiarize yourself with the exam objectives and gather study materials.

I collected all the exam topics from the “Developing Solutions for Microsoft Azure” Page and then I downloaded the Az-204 pdf curriculum
After that I created a Trello Board. With all the topics, that needed to be studied. This is where I kept the majority of the notes: I ordered the cards, with the topics I wanted to learn first.

AZ-204 Study Guide

  • I created 14 columns covering each major topic, so in order for me to pass, I would have to master around 2 or more topics per week. This week I was covering ARM & Key Vault.
  • I then Set up my Azure subscriptions and tried my hardest to utilize as many free Azure free-tier services.
  • Lastly I joined this excellent Udemy course : Az-204: Developing Solutions for Microsoft Azure
  • Then at the end of each week I would try a practice test on udemy and I would use youtube which was actually surprisingly comprehensive and very accurate. The questions I would attempt were only on the topics I had learned in the week:

Week 2-3: Security

  • It took 2 weeks for me to cover all the security aspects, because the topic is so broad.
  • Getting hands on experience and trying out the code snippets was very important, during this week.

Week 4: Virtual Machines, Container Registry, Container Instances,

  • Putting my ARM knowledge to use, I deployed virtual machines and made attempts to secure them.
  • After the virtual machines were created and studied, it was time to create containerised applications, container instances and the container registry.

Month 2:

Week 1-2: Kubernetes Deep Dive, Monitoring, User Management & Api Management

  • Nearly half way through and continuing with Infrastructure topics I moved to kubernetes
  • Monitoring was next.

Week 3: Exam Practice, Configuration, Azure Cache Redis, Event Hubs

  • At this stage I began taking full-length practice exams to simulate the actual exam conditions.
  • I analyzed my performance, reviewed incorrect answers, and focused on strengthening weak areas.
  • Then I had to refine my study plan based on the areas that require additional attention.

Week 4: Exam Practice, Azure Cosmos db, Azure Blob Storage, Azure Functions, App Service

  • I saved the topics I’m very strong in till last. And went through those fairly quickly.

Final Days:

  • In the final days I took additional practice tests to build confidence and reinforce my knowledge.

The Exam experience

I took a remote Pearsons VUE exam, allowing me to complete the test from the comfort of my home. Before starting the exam, I had to clear my desk as per the invigilator’s instructions. The invigilator, a friendly American man, asked me to show my desk through the webcam. After some adjustments, including disconnecting my monitors and moving pens and papers aside, I had to show the setup from different angles.

Once the desk check was done, the exam began. The first question presented a scenario involving implementing a JSON-based solution into a website, covering Azure Cosmos DB, data interaction and transformation functions, and monitoring scenarios. The remaining questions were in multiple-choice format.

During the exam, my invigilator reminded me not to look away from the screen, which proved challenging when I needed to think or scratch my head for a particular question. Despite these minor interruptions, I received the exam result immediately after completing it, bringing a great sense of relief as I discovered that I had passed.

In summary, I successfully took the remote exam with the guidance of a diligent invigilator, overcame minor desk setup challenges, and experienced the immediate gratification of passing the test.

In Conclusion

I would encourage anyone to take the exam, provided they have time and their goals are clear. What helped me the most in passing the exam was setting a deadline, It established a clear timeline and pushed me to stay dedicated to my studies, ultimately leading to a positive outcome. Next was the Udemy course: Az-204: Developing Solutions for Microsoft Azure which covered EVERY single topic. And finally the youtube questions, which very very accurately simulate the exam questions that will be asked.

If you are thinking of taking the exam, good luck and I hope this article was helpful.

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