On September 28th, 2021, I passed exam DP-900: Azure Data Fundamentals, yay! 🥳 The exam is mainly intended for those who are new to working with the Azure data platform, but is also required for achieving Microsoft partner status in the Data Platform competency.
In this post, I share how I prepared for the exam and what my experience was like on the day of the exam.
Preparing for Microsoft Exam DP-900: Azure Data Fundamentals
I have worked with the Azure data platform for several years, and I had also already spent 60-90 hours studying to become a certified Azure Data Engineer Associate. (I took exams DP-200 and DP-201 back in 2019, before they were replaced by the DP-203 exam.)
My hands-on experience and past studying might have been enough for me to pass this exam, but I still wanted to be as prepared as possible.
Skills Measured in Exam DP-900
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, and is basically a pre-written checklist! 💡
The DP-900 skills measured are divided into a few main sections with several subsections. It tells you what you need to know. For example, “describe analytics techniques (e.g., descriptive, diagnostic, predictive, prescriptive, cognitive)” or “identify query tools (e.g., Azure Data Studio, SQL Server Management Studio, sqlcmd utility, etc.)”.
In the fundamental Azure exams, you will notice that the focus is on understanding and explaining. This means that you won’t need to know all the details about how to implement something, but this does not mean that the exam is easy!
In fact, I was pleasantly surprised at just how much the exam covers. It was an important reminder to myself that “fundamental” does not mean “simple” 😊
Microsoft Learning Paths for DP-900
After reviewing the skills measured, I completed all the relevant learning paths:
- Azure Data Fundamentals: Explore core data concepts
- Azure Data Fundamentals: Explore relational data in Azure
- Azure Data Fundamentals: Explore non-relational data in Azure
- Azure Data Fundamentals: Explore modern data warehouse analytics in Azure
Depending on your expertise and experience, you may want to dig deeper into some of these main topics. For example, database administrators may want to spend additional time on the data warehousing concepts, while data engineers may want to review platform and infrastructure concepts.
Taking Microsoft Exam DP-900: Azure Data Fundamentals
The first step of taking the exam is to accept and sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). Because of that, I can’t say anything 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.
I had a total of 65 minutes for the exam. 45 minutes were for answering questions. The remaining 20 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! 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.
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 any additional information to find keywords, hints, and information to support the answer you think is correct.
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. 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.
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.
My key takeaway and final piece of advice is to work through the entire list of skills measured. The Microsoft learning paths are excellent, but you may want to read up on certain topics that you have less hands-on experience with.
Good luck! You can do this 🙌🏻
About the Author
Cathrine Wilhelmsen is a Microsoft Data Platform MVP, BimlHero Certified Expert, international speaker, author, blogger, organizer, and chronic volunteer. She loves data and coding, as well as teaching and sharing knowledge - oh, and sci-fi, coffee, chocolate, and cats 🤓