This week I finally managed to pass the AZ-305 exam and earn the Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification. In this blog I’ll walk you through my experiences. As per usual, when you take a Microsoft exam there’s an non-disclosure agreement. I will not violate that by telling what questions I got.
I started out my preparation after finishing my AZ-104 (Azure Administrator) exam. That was my foundation for this exam.
After that I headed to the Microsoft Learn site to prepare for this big one. The first thing you’ll notice is the amount of learn paths you’ll have to go through. And the amount of time some of them will take. I massively underestimated that, thinking I could fly through that and recognize most of the things. I did not. There was quite some new stuff and reading all the extra documentation with it did take a lot of time.
But reading all the extra documentation is needed to get a full grip on all the questions that can be asked at the exam. There are no easy questions (well, some if you’re expertly proficient in some areas).
After finishing the learn course and a few practice exams by MeasureUp I thought I had a chance. Maybe it was the aftermath of being ill for a week (Covid), or the long drive to the exam center but most likely a lack of knowledge, but the first try was a failure. In my daily job, online services like app services are rare. Everything that has something to do with those services is harder for me, because my knowledge is mostly theoretical. And the questions start at the theory, and then move on. The data related questions were easier. But you need to know how all services interact. As an architect, it makes a lot of sense to know how all these things interact and my failure was very much justified
So for my second try, not only did I focus on the resources that I’m less familiar with, but also how all these resources interact with each other. That makes for an interesting learning curve and much more understanding how resources complement each other. To get this better overview, I just spent a lot of time in the Azure documentation. Reading about security, integration, pricing, deployment and all the things that happen when you’re using a resource. It’s lot. And I won’t expect to remember all the details, but the main gist will remain. That and the links to the documentation because Azure is constantly updated.
After reading a lot I thought I was ready for my second try. The drive to the exam center was even longer because of some traffic issues but I got there just in time. Not entirely relaxed though, but the reception was friendly. A few deep breaths, a quick bite an on the exam. The questions were all different compared to my first attempt. It’s no use trying to memorize them, memorize what areas you need to improve on. When answering the questions, I again met the limitations of working experience, but with the extra knowledge from reading a lot of documentation, I could work towards the best possible answer. I only allowed myself to change an answer if I was able to motivate why, and why the other options were invalid.
I was shaking a bit after my time ran out (that was a first one for me) and had to wait for the result. But, I passed! A lot of work, evenings spent reading or fooling around with resources paid off. No wonder the drive back to work was a happy one. Relieved and a bit proud because this is my first expert certification.
I know the certification get some flak online, for me it still shows that you’ve spent a serious amount of time diving into the subject and familiarize yourself with the content. The real knowledge and expertise is only obtained by going out and doing it. But it’s a large step and, for me, it shows effort and interest.
If you’re interested in either the exam or the certification, I’d strongly encourage you to follow the AZ-305 training. Start with the learn path though, follow up with the training and read the documentation. This will help you a lot, combine it with an Azure account where you can deploy resources to see what they effectively do, and you should go a long way. Don’t be scared to take the exam when you’re not fully ready. It will give you an insight into where you have to improve so your second try is much more likely to succeed.