Passed AZ-300 - My take on the new Microsoft exams
This morning I passed the AZ-300 exam. To be honest, I was confident that I failed the exam. Especially because I ran out of time with only 80 - 90 %. In this blog post, I will explain you the good and the bad of this exam and the exam experience.
Labs are a great way to test knowledge
The labs that I had to take in the exam where stable and solid. You get access to a Windows VM with a browser on it which automatically opens the Azure Portal. Other websites are not accessible of course, but you can use the calculator or other Windows components if you want. :) The labs are based on real-world scenarios, combining cases you need to solve through the Azure Portal but also the command line. I had no issues with the performance of the labs, but I would’ve appreciated if Microsoft provided more clarification throughout the labs. Just to give you an example here. Think about a sample question like “Create a Windows Server VM with X amount of storage”. All kinds of questions are popping up in my head like “Does the system know if I place it in a different Resource Group than what’s in the subscription?” and “Can I just create a new VNET, or do I need to use the existing VNET in the subscription?". I recommend Microsoft providing this information before starting the lab. A sentence like “If no information is given about the name of the Resource Group and VNET, you should create your own” prevents stress there.
The exam contains relevant questions, but the content is close to the content you need to know for the Certified Azure Administrator exams. I was expecting some more in-depth questions about requirements gathering and the Azure Solutions Architectures. I hope this will be addressed in the AZ-301 exam, which I will sit shortly.
New PVProctor application with some great enhancements
I always plan to do my exam at home so I can wear comfortable clothes, in my own environment and with my own laptop. Pearson Vue requires you to install an application called PVProctor on your machine, which is able to launch a secure browser and contains the chat functionality to get in touch with the proctor. It use to run on Adobe Air. (*Yuck*) This application was heavily depending on the built-in webcam of my laptop. For example, I had to take pictures of my ID card and show a 360 degree overview of my room with this webcam. This was my first exam with the new PVProctor application by Pearson Vue, which relies much more on a smartphone. Before taking the exam, the application asks you to browse to a website with your smartphone. On this website, you need to follow a couple of steps like upload some pictures of your workplace but also of your ID card. This methods saves you from taking pictures over and over again because of the bad quality notebook webcams. Do note that you will still be proctored by the webcam of your notebook during the exam. The biggest benefit of this new version is that you have access to a virtual whiteboard, which you can use to write down some text. This text will stay there throughout the exam!
Way too much to do in a short period of time
Be prepared to use every minute out of the 150 minutes you’ve got. I never ran out of time during an exam because I often flag questions that I need to revisit at the end of the exam. This time I did run out of time, with 80 - 90 % of the questions answered.
Lack of transparency to understand how many questions/labs/cases you still need to do
The exam can be split into multiple labs, cases and questions. Imagine you have to answer 5 questions in a case, answer 9 multiple choice questions, work through 2 labs before asking some more multiple choice questions again. It’s very hard to understand how much time you have left for a lab or for a case. I recommend Microsoft to let the user make the choice when to do the lab, cases or multiple choice questions, or provide insights what’s coming up during the exam.
Labs work fine on a 4K 15” laptop screen
But I can imagine that it’s a pain with everything below 1920x1080. Especially if you take this exam at an exam center with small monitors.
No communication after ending the exam and still haven’t received an email
This is what still frustrates me. I had to visit the MCP Portal to find out that I passed. After answering the post-exam questions from Microsoft, the exam stopped without any information and the PVProctor application was stopped. Previously I would’ve seen my score at the end of the exam or at least receive an e-mail with my score. It’s 12 hours after the start of the exam and I still haven’t received any formal communications from Microsoft. Hope this gives you some insights into this exam. Good luck!