My experience – Certified Architecting MS Azure Solutions

What a journey! Finally, passed the Microsoft Azure Solutions Architect certification. I had to drop pretty much everything for last 2 months…almost 150 hours of study time – I logged my study time :). Here is the summary of my experience.

AzureSolutionArchitectIn December last year, with 3 other colleagues, we went down to Redmond, WA to attend 4 days MS Azure Architect Workshop. There was a prerequisite to start with (mostly watching VirtualAcademy videos, 10 hours) and 4 days of fully packed back to back (literally 8am – 6pm with 45 min lunch break) sessions. After the first day, I was exhausted. I haven’t set one spot for so long time in recent years (may be getting old???) :). So much information was fed and we had to digest without gulping.

After 2015 holidays, I started to study for the exam. There are many reasons why I wanted to get certified. One of the reasons were to demonstrate commitment and dedication to my own children. “Daddy always tells us to do something good, but haven’t really proved himself”, so I talked about the exam and my goal with my kids. They told me many good advice 🙂 “Skip if you don’t know and come back later in your exam. Just keep thinking that you can do this!”. These are very good advice matter of fact!

I started with the exam Reference book (official guide book). The book was well written, but certain topics are not explained clearly for a guy coming from Java background.

Finally, I wrote the exam on March 24, a day before Good Friday. The exam wasn’t that difficult, but there are several questions that I really had to guess. Because of number of questions (41 questions with 70% passing line), I was little bit nervous. Over 12 questions wrong, you are out! Most of the case studies are the same from either the practice exam or mock exam samples, but related exam questions were different. I found the practice exam from was quite useful. The practice exam questions covered all the details and the answers were presented with very good explanation, so I didn’t have to search for the book or internet. However, I made a big mistake not looking at the practice exam until one day before the exam. I thought it will be a short mock exam with 50 questions, but I could select maximum 150 questions in the practice exam.  After I realized the benefits of practice exam and I can take up to 150 questions, I studied like a college student cramming for exams. It was a terrible experience – feeling exhausted, rushed, and worried.

Finally, I passed the exam and enjoyed a good long weekend.  From this journey, I’ve learned few things:

  • Find a study buddy. Fortunately, one of my colleague wrote the same exam on the same day. We’ve discussed various topics from time to time and encouraged each other to stay focused.
  • Start with the basics. I skipped the fundamental book and jumped on the exam reference book directly. I could’ve saved my time if I started with the fundamental book by solidifying my mental model. Always start with the basic and complete your mental model before jumping into harder one. I knew this already, but didn’t apply in this case. Because the exam voucher expires at the end of March 2016, I must felt time pressure.
  • Good feeling after the challenge. Personally, it wasn’t an easy challenge – I am from non-MS background. When I saw “Congratulations!” in the computer screen, I was so happy, thrilled, excited, and relieved, which I haven’t felt in many many years.

I had to write this for me to look back and remember how wonderful it is to be able to challenge and accomplish something in my life and being a good example for my kids.