Let me walk you through my experiences of the Microsoft Exam. What is the exam about, how did I study, was it worth it?
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this blog post is as accurate as possible as of Summer 2017; it is essential that you also validate this with the official reference pages as they will be updated with current exam objectives and guidance, this blog post might not be!
What is this exam about?
Did I find this exam useful?
How did I prepare for 70-533?
I’ve identified that over the years, my preferred learning style is very much being self-taught, rather than sitting in a classroom and being lectured. This is mostly a personality thing, I get grumpy listening to other people talk for hours, and I very much like to explore topics and subjects beyond the course material that is often presented to me. While some courses I’ve been on have been excellent, I decided that I’d also attempt this exam after being self-taught.
Structure your learning with the exam objectives and traffic lights
Teaching yourself any subject, especially one as massive as Azure has to be done in a structured way. I started off with the exam objectives and rated myself where I thought I was. This can be very useful to give yourself a quick “heatmap” of how much learning you think you have to do, even if you just use a simple traffic light coloring scheme;
- Deploy Web Apps
- Define deployment slots; roll back deployments; implement pre- and post-deployment actions; create, configure and deploy packages; create App Service plans; migrate Web Apps between App Service plans; create a Web App within an App Service plan
- Configure Web Apps
- Define and use app settings, connection strings, handlers and virtual directories; configure certificates and custom domains; configure SSL bindings and runtime configurations; manage Web Apps by using Azure PowerShell and Xplat-CLI
- Configure diagnostics, monitoring and analytics
- Retrieve diagnostics data; view streaming logs; configure endpoint monitoring, configure alerts; configure diagnostics; use remote debugging; monitor Web App resources
…. and many more objectives!
With this heatmap, I always tend to start with the red items first. Why start with the stuff I don’t know well? Simply, as you start to look through these, you often pick up bits and pieces from other topics that you might partially know, and I found this with Azure in particular. In configuring diagnostics and monitoring, it really helped me out diagnosing VM and web app deployment for example.
How long did you have to learn for?
This really is different for every person. I’d personally been using Azure (fairly casually) before the exam for several months, and I put in several 4-6 hour evenings prior to my first take of the exam.
It took me a while with this one; I passed on my third attempt which is pretty frustrating! I’ve failed some technical exams in the past, but generally I pass them first time because, if you review the objectives, if you put in the learning hours, passing first time is just a matter of good preparation. However, with this exam I under-estimated on my first 2 attempts just quite how much emphasis it puts on memorizing complex tables and support structures, as well as relatively nit-picky questions about PowerShell syntax (pretty much not used now that the azure cross platform command line interfaces are available). Unfortunately, those are my two issues with this exam.
- Certifications? Pah, I have experience!