On December 15, 2020, Microsoft announced to renew a current certification without additional cost for one year by passing an assessment. The renewal option became available March 2021 for an extended list of certifications on Azure, Microsoft 365 and Dynamics 365. Check out this link for an overview of eligible ones.
So, what to expect from this assessment review? I’ll try to answer your questions about the level, the preparation and the renewal process itself. Those were the questions I had, when starting.
I renewed my Azure SA certification for another year. Nothing really changed except for the assessment modules. This year there are 7 instead of 8 modules. The assessment section is updated with the correct modules and links.
In my case, I have a current Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification as of January 2019. Previously the certification was current for two years. In my case until the end of January 2021. Microsoft first extended the validity period with 6 months to the end of July 2021 and released the renewal option in the beginning of March.
At March the 2nd 2021, I received the email below, that advises to pass the online assessment. When expired, you need to re-take the AZ-305 (Designing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions) exam to stay certified. Microsoft retired AZ-303 and AZ-304 at March 31, 2022, so these cannot be taken anymore
Passing the Azure 70-535 (Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions) and AZ-302 (transition) exams 3 years ago (while being a Azure novice at the time) was a tough nut to crack, so I really want to prevent that.
The renewal process requires you to pass the free, online only, non-proctored assessment. When you login to the renewal site with a email address that has your MCP ID assigned, it should be available to you. The assessment itself consists of 26 multiple choice questions and has to be finished in 45 minutes. It even can be performed multiple times. After the second attempt you’ll have to wait 24 hours before a retake is possible.
In contrary to some proctored exams, there is no time extension for non-native English speaking persons.
The renewal site is well put together. When logged in, it provides:
- A check if your certification is eligible for renewal
- Advise on a collections of learning modules to study
The Azure renew site lists a collection of relevant learning modules that are applicable for your certification. In this case for the Solution Architect Expert. The advised collection consists of 7 modules can be completed in around 3,5 hours. Every section of a collection is rated to be completed in 3 minutes. If you’re going through all of them , 3 minutes is too short in my opinion, so the overall time to complete all modules could take longer.
Using the “Browse” section to filter based on:
The assessment is aimed around a sub-intermediate level and tests on the 8 advised modules. When you have looked into them, you should be prepared. The focus areas are:
- Design a data storage solution for relational data
- Design a data storage solution for non-relational data
- Design for high availability
- Design a compute solution
- Design an application architecture
- Design network solutions
- Design data integration
I passed the first time with time to spare. So, happy to have extended it for another year!
After reading this review, you hopefully now what to expect by now. Before starting the assessment I did not know about the difficulty level and topics to be tested on. In hindsight, the scope was limited and the level was easier, compared to the official Azure (AZ-304 and AZ-305) exams.
All the best with yours and I would love to hear your feedback.