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Preparing for and Taking Microsoft Exam DP-200 (Implementing an Azure Data Solution)

On January 31st, 2019, Microsoft released two new Azure Data exams: Implementing an Azure Data Solution (DP-200) and Designing an Azure Data Solution (DP-201). If you pass both of these exams, you become a Microsoft Certified Azure Data Engineer Associate. On May 24th, 2019, I passed DP-200: Implementing an Azure Data Solution! I am now halfway to my first Azure certification, yay :)

In this post, I share how I prepared for the exam and what my experience was like on the day of the exam.

Important Updates in June 2019

I passed exam DP-200 in May 2019, and published this post based on that version of the exam. In June 2019, the exam was updated:

List of updates to Exam DP-200 in June 2019

While most of the content in this post should still be relevant, there will be some differences between my skills measured checklist and the skills measured in this updated version of the exam. Make sure you read the full change document before you start studying.

Preparing for Microsoft Exam DP-200: Implementing an Azure Data Solution

When I started preparing for the DP-200 exam in February 2019, it had just been released. There were no courses, practice exams, or books available at that time. Instead, I relied heavily on Microsoft Learn and a lot of hands-on experience.

In short, this is how I prepared:

On April 3rd, 2019, the official classroom course was released, and all the course labs are available on GitHub. I did not take this course or work through the labs because I wanted to try the new learning paths from Microsoft, but you may find a more traditional course useful.

Below, you can find more details about how I prepared with links to all the resources I used.

(If you are simply looking for information about exam questions and answers, please leave. Sharing or using that kind of information is a violation of the Microsoft Exam Policy and Non-Disclosure Agreement.)

Skills Measured in Exam DP-200

Overview of skills required for Exam DP-200
Screenshot from the Microsoft Certification and Training Guide

Every time I study for a Microsoft exam, my first step is always to check the skills measured. It helps me understand the scope of the exam, as well as the products and technologies covered. It is basically a pre-written checklist :)

The DP-200 exam skills measured is divided into main sections with several subsections and details. It tells you what you need to be able to do. For example, “configure elastic pools” or “design and implement data factory monitoring“. In addition to the official list of skills measured, I created my own checklist that lists the products and technologies covered in each section.

↓ Click to open Cathrine's skills measured checklist

Implement Data Storage Solutions:

  • Storage Accounts (Azure Blob Storage / Azure Data Lake Storage Gen1 and Gen2)
  • Azure SQL Database (Managed Instances, Hyperscale, Elastic Pools, Elastic Jobs, Data Sync)
  • Hybrid Solutions (SQL Server On-Premises vs SQL Server in Virtual Machines vs Azure SQL Database)
  • Azure SQL Data Warehouse
  • Cosmos DB

Manage and Develop Data Processing:

  • Azure Data Factory
  • PolyBase
  • Azure Databricks
  • Azure Stream Analytics
  • Event Hubs
  • IoT Hubs

Manage Data Security:

  • Authentication vs Authorization
  • Access Control and Permissions
  • Gateways
  • Firewalls
  • Azure Active Directory
  • Data Masking
  • Row-Level Security and Column-Level Security
  • Data Encryption (Transparent Data Encryption, Encryption At Rest, Encryption In Motion)
  • Auditing
  • Threat Alerts and Resource Usage Alerts

Monitoring Data Solutions:

  • Monitoring Storage, Databases, and Processing

Manage and Troubleshoot Azure Data Solutions:

  • Data Partition Bottlenecks
  • Disaster Recovery and High Availability
  • Data Retention Policies
  • Import and Export Data

Microsoft Learning Paths for Azure Data Engineers

Once I had an understanding of the skills measured, I started on the Microsoft Learning Paths for Azure Data Engineers. Microsoft has done a great job making these learning paths engaging and easy to follow, and I enjoyed working through them.

The content is varied enough that studying doesn’t get boring. For example, there is a good mix of reading, watching videos, answering questions, and getting hands-on experience in sandbox environments.

Everything is gamified, meaning that you get experience points, badges, and trophies as you progress through the content and level up. If you don’t care about any of that, no problem! Just ignore it. But if you think it’s fun, it can add a little extra to your motivation :)

On the bottom of the DP-200 exam page, you will find a link to Guide to Training. It currently looks like this:

Screenshot of the Guide to Training for Exams DP-200 and DP-201
Screenshot of the Guide to Training for Exams DP-200 and DP-201

It shows you the learning paths, the recommended order to work through them, the estimated time for each, and their recommended modules. All the links are clickable in the PDF, so this is a useful overview and starting point.

However, I’m not sure if the guide is completely up-to-date. For example, the number of modules in the guide is different from the number of actual modules in the learning paths, the estimated times are different, and one learning path seems to have changed its name. Be aware of this so you don’t strictly follow just the guide, and as a result miss important modules that are not listed in it.

Microsoft Learning Paths for Exam DP-200

I worked through the following learning paths:

I skipped most of the following learning path because I didn’t feel it was as relevant for the skills measured in the DP-200 exam:

The estimated total time for all ten learning paths was a little over 43 hours. However, I ended up skipping and skimming some of the content because I already knew it or had previous hands-on experience. In total, I spent around 25 hours on the nine learning paths I completed.

Azure Solution Architectures

After completing the Microsoft Learning Paths, I reviewed the Azure Solution Architectures. The learning paths helped me understand the technologies and products individually. The solution architectures helped me understand how they work together.

I personally focused on the architectures where I don’t have as much hands-on experience. For example:

Depending on your background, you may want to spend more time on other architectures. You can find all the Azure Solution Architectures in the Azure Solutions portal.

SQLBits Session Recordings

I specifically call out SQLBits because they have high-quality content available for free :) It is also one of the more recent conferences with updated sessions and information from Microsoft, as well as from great community speakers.

Again, I personally focused on the topics where I don’t have as much hands-on experience. I also tried to watch as many of the Microsoft sessions as I could. For example:

Just like with the solution architectures, you may want to watch other videos than me. You can find all the recordings on the SQLBits Previous Sessions page.

You may also want to review the session recordings from Microsoft Ignite. These are a little older, but you can find a lot of great information there.

Taking Microsoft Exam DP-200: Implementing an Azure Data Solution

The first step of taking the exam is to accept and sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). Because of that, I can’t say much about the exam itself. Instead, I want to share some of my tips and advice, based on my own experiences.

You can find more information in Microsoft’s Certification Exam Policies and FAQs.

Exam Time

I had a total of 210 minutes for the exam. 180 minutes were for answering questions. The remaining 30 minutes were for reading instructions, signing the NDA, and providing feedback afterwards.

During the exam, you will see a big timer on the screen that shows how much time you have left. You will also see how many total questions you have to answer. Make sure you have enough time for all questions. According to Microsoft, exams usually have 40-60 questions. For a 180-minute exam, that means you have 3-5 minutes per question.

If you feel stuck on a question, I recommend that you mark it for review and return to it later. It’s better to get that one question wrong than not having time to answer the last five questions.

Question Types

The question types can include case studies, repeated answer choices, single choice, multiple choice, drop-down lists, build lists, drag-and-drop, and more. You can see examples of exam question types in these videos from Microsoft Learning:

Playlist: Microsoft Certification Exam Tutorial

Question Text

My tip is to read all questions bottom-up or from the end. Start by identifying the actual question, then look at the answer alternatives. Finally, work your way through the entire question text and all background information to find keywords, hints, and information to support the answer you think is correct.

The reason I share this tip is that you often get presented with a lot of background information, especially in the case studies. They usually describe all parts of a larger solution. By identifying the question first, you can focus in on the relevant content while reading.

Help! I don’t know the answer!

Even after all your hours of preparation, you might come across a question that takes you by surprise. I got a couple of these questions. My best advice is to use the elimination method to narrow down the options to the most likely answer. If that doesn’t help… take your best guess :) You will not be penalized for wrong answers. You simply don’t earn some or all of the possible points.

Pick the answer that sounds most likely or logical, and move on to the next question. Remember that you don’t need 100% to pass the exam, so don’t worry too much about a single question.

Don’t overthink!

Finally, don’t overthink it. There are no “it depends” answers in the Microsoft certification exam world. Even though I wish I could add “yes, but, if…” to many of my answers, you can’t. You need to go in with a mindset that there is either a right answer, or a best answer.

Read the text and stay as objective as possible. Use the facts in the question to make your decision, and don’t fall into the “it depends” trap. If you’re unsure, pick the best answer. Again, don’t get stuck on any questions. Go back and review them at the end. You may even answer some other questions in the meantime that may trigger your memory.

Summary

In this post, I shared all the resources that I found and used. However, I expect more resources to become available after I publish this :) If you are reading this after May 2019, your very first stop should be the official exam overview page. Always check the latest official information from Microsoft before your exam.

In total, I spent somewhere between 50-75 hours preparing for the DP-200 exam. That does not include the time spent getting hands-on experience working on real projects.

My key takeaway and final piece of advice is to work through the entire list of skills measured. Know how to do everything in the Azure Portal, and familiarize yourself with how to do everything by writing code. This will help prepare you for the exam, but you will also be confident that you have the skills needed to implement Azure Data Solutions in the real world.

Good luck! You can do this :)

About the Author

Cathrine Wilhelmsen is a Microsoft Data Platform MVP, BimlHero Certified Expert, Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert, international speaker, author, blogger, and chronic volunteer who loves teaching and sharing knowledge. She works as a Senior Business Intelligence Consultant at Inmeta, focusing on Azure Data and the Microsoft Data Platform. She loves sci-fi, chocolate, coffee, craft beers, ciders, cat gifs and smilies :)

Comments

Hi! This is Cathrine. Thank you so much for visiting my blog. I'd love to hear your thoughts, but please keep in mind that I'm not technical support for any products mentioned in this post :) Off-topic questions, comments and discussions may be moderated. Be kind to each other. Thanks!

I was reading through this and I think it is 100% spot on. I have not taken the DP-200 exam, and have no plans to in the near future (mostly because my workplace is not in the Azure market space yet; we are completely on-premise with our database, ETL and reporting setup).
One thing I would like to point out though is your tips apply to writing any MS exam! Not just the DP-200 exam. From my experience anyways. I have my MTA:Database Fundamentals, but no other MS certs yet and the advice you offer applies to the one I have too. Some questions have an “it depends” answer or sometimes I couldn’t find what I thought was the correct answer and had to pick the best one.
That being said, I think anyone who has worked with databases a little bit and understands normalization could pass the MTA: Database fundamentals test pretty easily. The “difficult” questions were not all that difficult I thought. I spent a lot of time studying for it and I spent a LOT more time trying to prove to the reviewer that I didn’t have anything that could help me cheat in my house. I had the house to myself, but they wanted me to physically unplug my TV’s and show them with my laptop’s webcam what was in the room. I think I spent more time trying to get things ready than I did writing the test. I do recommend either going to a test taking location (if one exists in or near where you live) or if you NEED to do the test from your home (if it is an option), that you boot into safe mode so no 3rd party tools are running. I think that would have saved me a LOT of time.

Great Description Cathrine, Thanks

Excellent guide! Thank you Cathrine!

this is an amazing resource for a Microsoft exam newbie! Thank you so much Catherine for going to the effort. Much appreciated.

Excellent guide Cathrine !. This is really helpful for the people who are preparing to complete DP-200 exam.

Hi Cathrine, this is really great post. do I have to prepare for hand on like coding for spark jobs etc .Thanks.

Hi Catherine,

Firstly thanks a lot for all the valuable information…great work.As mentioned here I’m unable to find the DP-200.1: Implementing an Azure Data Solution on OpenEDX. Do u think it’s removed or can you please post the correct link.

-Thanks.

Hi Raghu, the link to DP-200.1: Implementing an Azure Data Solution is working for me. Which error are you getting? Are you sure it wasn’t just down for you temporarily?

Thanks Catherine for your reply…when i click Enroll in i don’t the see the course curriculum…instead i see different courses i.e. GEN102X & INF240X.

I just tried to enroll as a brand new user, and before I logged in I also only saw the other courses like you describe. But once I logged in, gave the app the proper permissions, and clicked the link in my post again, I could enroll and see the contents of the course. If you tried the same steps and still don’t have access, I can’t help you. I’m not customer support. You’ll need to reach out to Microsoft or edX instead.

Thanks Catherine i tried the way you mentioned and it worked :)…totally understand my next step was contacting the EDX support :).

Hi Cathrine, Very well explained, By reading and following this guid anyone can pass the exam. :)

Excellent!!!
I have gone through many certification exams in my Database and BI career for last 15+ years… This is the best post..
Thank you so much for the post.. I’ll work according to your instructions and tips, and sit for the exam ASAP..

Thanks again

Thank you Cathrine for detailed explanation and suggestions.
I would have one question tho. I see you passed 70-463 and I know these are completely different but comparing to DP-200, would you say that DP-200 is easier? Or could it be passed, if I do not have real world experience in Azure? Only Labs?
Thank you
Jana

Hello Cathrine, One question I have is approximately how many questions were in the exam where you had to actually work through hands-on lab scenarios, i.e., Actually work through Azure Portal and/or the command line using either Azure CLI or Powershell. This is indeed a very helpful article. Thanks.

Hi Cathrine, thanks for you’re effort on collecting all these insights and sharing your experience!
Considering the lack of official material and practice test this is a very valuable post.

BTW, just passed DP-200 myself ;)

Could you also please share your tips and experience to crack this certification which may be very much helpful to the future aspirants like me…
Thanks in advance

Great Information. Thanks!

Do you have to write code in this exam?

HI Catherine- I am litle confused on what all topics we need to study for Dp200 vs DP201? Can you help me in this. As in the learning path all the topics are given for both Dp200 and DP201.

This is soooo helpful, many thanks !!

Hello Cathrine,

What technical background / experitize do you recommend to an individual planning to attempt DP 200 or DP 201 to possess?

Thanks!

Hi Cathrine.

Please let me know the Training if you are having any in near future for DP 200 and DP 201

Hi Catherine, thank you for share your experience.
Joao

Thanks so much for this, Catherine. Passed DP-200 due, in large part, to the roadmap you’ve laid out here. I am grateful for your contributions to the community.

Amazing write up, exactly what i was looking for. Thank you Catherine.

will we recieve certificate after finishing DP-200

Hi! This is Cathrine (again). Just a reminder. I'd love to hear your thoughts, but please keep in mind that I'm not technical support for any products mentioned in this post :) Off-topic questions, comments and discussions may be moderated. Be kind to each other. Thanks!

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