How to pass the Microsoft DP-200, DP-201 and DP-100 Azure exams

tl;dr: Passing Microsoft exams is more challenging than you might think, so we made a list of things to watch out for, including but not only the following: go by the Skills Measured outline when prepping, allow 3-4 days prep time for DP-100, a week for DP-200, get hands-on with the Azure portal, practice Python APIs, dedicate time to PowerShell and Bash if possible, learn API functions by heart. Allow ample time for technical setup, be on time, eat and pee before the exam and never ever leave your room during the exam. Also, take a Datapao Azure course if you want to max your chances. 

Datapao became a Microsoft Gold partner recently, which made us ever so happy and proud. We really needed this boost of morals in the midst of a pandemic and boy, did we get it. Part of the process of becoming a gold partner is an exam or rather, a series of competency exams. One of our most senior engineers came out of the exam session two weeks ago like someone who just ran a marathon. He said that it was more demanding and difficult than what he expected and so we decided to collect all the tips and tricks from him and the Datapao team for our colleagues and for anyone who might be interested. Prepping well and knowing what to expect will help you really ace this thing. Feel free to ask questions or even book a training session with Datapao if you need more help than what we can cover in this post!

DP-200, DP-201 and DP-100

As you might already know, the requirements were recently changed. The latest change removed some of the existing exams and introduced new ones. DP-200 in particular was updated several times, so when you search for sample questions or tips, make sure you crosscheck what you’ve found with the updated Skills Measured doc. Talking of which, the Skills Measured outline will be your most important piece of reference: a checklist is available for each exam and it’s a very good idea to follow. Even if you are experienced in data engineering and data analytics, make sure you: 

  • Dedicate enough time to prepare!
    DP-100 is probably the easiest of the bunch, but to confidently sail through it, you still need 3-4 days prep time. DP-200 however needs much more, since it covers quite a few services – allow up to a week, depending on your level of seniority to prepare. The engineer we mentioned before and who unintentionally burned a few thousand calories sweating in front of the computer? He prepped in 3 days but regretted not giving himself more time.
  • Python is important
    If you are less of a coder, you can still ace this, but DP-100 will be much more challenging without basic Python and machine learning knowledge. It is doable – DP-100 is focusing on infrastructure, not on hardcore data science concepts. 
  • Take your time! 
    There is plenty of time to answer the questions and this is especially true for DP-100, so don’t rush, think it through. 

How to prep

Microsoft’s online learning site is a good place to start, but be aware that not every topic is covered, so the Skills Measured list has to be your essential guide instead. Hands-on knowledge and practice with Azure are very important. Some questions can only be answered if you tried the libraries or services yourself, so make sure you jump on an Azure project or make yourself one. We can also help you with hands-on, instructor led courses specifically targeted to make you understand Azure and pass these exams. 

If you have a go at it on your own, make sure you:

  • Practice Python APIs, get familiar with the Azure portal and give time to PowerShell and Bash if possible. Practical exercises will definitely help you to remember how to solve certain tasks with different APIs. In DP100, the Python API is by far the most important, this is the one you will probably use in your day to day work and it comes up frequently in the exam too. 
  • Make sure you can recall most API functions by heart. Not necessarily the full signature, but know what to use for certain tasks. You won’t be able to use any documentation at the exam, so you need to remember important APIs and concepts. Beware that there are some functions in the API, which look similar, but do slightly different things. Make sure you remember which specific function does what.  
  • Practice a lot and you’ll be fine. What is really useful in all exams is if you do a capstone on your own. That helps a ton to understand the concepts and the order in which you need to perform tasks to achieve a certain outcome. 
  • Develop a solid knowledge of the differences between similar service offerings (like Azure Container Instances, Azure Kubernetes Service and Compute Instances), specifically in regard to features they offer. If you can do something one way, it doesn’t mean that you are good to go, because the exams might ask you to do it in another way, so don’t neglect something just because you already know a way, which would work. It’s superefficient to see how you can do the same things on the UI, with CLI and using an API.  

How to take the exam

We want to give you some practical tips, because these can make a big difference. 

  • First off, do the technical setup and check well before the exam, so you can fix problems if you come across any. The check itself can take 10-20 minutes, so be good to yourself and start early. 
  • Once you start the exam, a proctor company will take control of your computer and set you up 15 minutes after your official start time. It’s essential not to be late – we had some issues with running the proctor software on OSX and almost missed the time period provided for the setup. 
  • The exam is pretty long, it can take up to three hours, so make sure you go to the toilet and have a good meal beforehand since no snacks are allowed during the exam. You can’t leave the room while doing the exam! If you do leave, your exam is over. 
  • At the beginning of the exam you will be asked to answer a few questions, which you won’t be able to revisit later. Some of these are yes/no questions, begging for a speedy run, but hold your horses, because these are tricky ones. It’s easy to mess up right at the beginning and lose a lot of points. 
  • Usually, partial solutions are also awarded points, so try to answer all questions, even if you are not sure about the full solution. 

Good luck and drop us a line if you need any more help or info!