2020 Azure Certification Changes

February 2, 2020

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Certification Paths On the 24th of January 2020 Microsoft announced changes to some of the more known Azure certification exams. The announcement was given with this blog post: Updates to Several Azure and Data & AI Certifications are Coming Soon As many might already know, the norm for Microsoft is to revise the the exams every 2 months and have a look at the syllabus once a year. This revision of the syllabus warranted a change in the exam numbers for some exams. Especially one paragraph in the blogpost highlights the reason behind this large change:

One of the luxuries we didn’t have during the initial launch of the new program was the ability to see across the certifications within a portfolio to understand how the skills being measured aligned with each other — to see if we were telling a cohesive certification story and providing a streamlined certification journey. Because we didn’t have this holistic view, we had to make some educated guesses about where and how to cover certain skills. While we got some of this right, in some cases, we inadvertently duplicated skills across exams and certifications, and we added unneeded complexity into assessment process than was really necessary. Updates to Several Azure and Data & AI Certifications are Coming Soon

So it may look like the main reason behind this large change is that some of the exams measured duplicated skills and therefor was more complex then they could have been. For me this fits right in to my experience. When I have been reading for my exams I have noticed a lot of overlap on skills measured. Especially between the AZ-103 exam and the AZ-300 exam. It could be as much as 30-40% overlap for the two. But then again I have not really measured it so that is just a ballpark estimate for my part. I think these changes will be for the better for all of us that want to get Azure certified in 2020 / 2021! So I am looking forward to have a close look on the complete changes when they are released.

In the announcement they announced the following exams will be changed:

So it looks like first one out is the AZ-203 exam. And then the rest will follow. But so far these dates are only just estimates. So this could end up taking a bit longer. The exams have to go trough the beta-phase first before becoming general available. So I would not be surprised if the release of these exams could drag on some. (UPDATE: The new AZ-204 exam was released on time on 24th of February 2020)

The certification you get by passing these exams will be the same

So for all that are currently planning to take any of those exams within a few months, or is already studying for one or more of the exams listed above: Continue your studies and do not think about the new exams with the new syllabuses yet. The certification you get by passing these exams will be the same. There will only be a minor distinction on the badge you receive that you have passed the new exams instead of the old. And even after the new exams is released into general availability, you have 90 days to take the old exam. So stay the course and get your certification! These new exams could also be delayed. It would not be the first time. Some “project slippage” could be expected.

Even when the new exams are released, expect that most of the providers of courses, test exams and lectures will not have any material available for study. If you want to study on your own without any of these then you would have to read the Skills Measured document and read trough the Microsoft Documentation for yourself. One might hope that Microsoft Learn will have updated modules for these new exams, but I expect that also they will need some time to create them.

If you want to try the exams before they hit general availability you can sign up the beta editions of the exam. These exams are longer and contain more questions than the ones that will be released into general availability later. You will also need to wait a few days before you will get the results and know if you passed or not. But if you want to then you can do this. But I would guess that you would need a special interest like being a course provider or some content creator that need to know more about these exams for this to be viable to do. But then again they are discounted by around 80%.

The changes!

Not all changes are locked in at this point. But after having read trough all of the changes I can say that the new exams seems more focused on the role they are certifying you for. The developer exam (AZ-204) is now more focused on developing solutions for Azure than before and the Administrator exam has more about networking and monitoring than before, but less focus on governance. Then again the exams for the Solutions Architect exam now contain more focus on the governance parts, and no longer feature questions about networking like before. So all in all a better change. So far I have only one thing to point my finger at, and that is the new AZ-304 exam that I feel have become more vague and diffuse on what exactly is a part of the new skills measured. The wording of the new topics are not very good. So I am hoping that they still change this before it goes into beta phase.

These new Skills Measured documents might be a bit hard to read for some while they are under development. So I have read them all for you and in separate blog posts I will go trough the changes and go into a bit more detail for each new section of the exams. So if you want to read about the changes in the exam you want to take then you can click on one of the links below where these posts have been published.

As of writing no updates have been published to the Skills Measured document for the new AI-102 exam. But I will update this post with links to a separate post about the new AI-102 exam when it comes.

The writeups

Click the image for link to the posts about the exam.






AZ-104 AZ-204 AZ-303 AZ-304 AI-102