The AZ-104 / AZ-204 / AZ-303 / AZ-304 Azure exams (their examination codes updated) recently announced by Microsoft will have several changes to its existing Azure and Data & AI certifications. They will come into beta in March 2020 and some will even have their badges updated.
I know most of you are in the midst of exam preparation and such an announcement unsettles you. This blog post is an attempt to calm your nerves.
What are the new Azure exams that Microsoft has announced?
All the below certifications will be updated around the March 2020 timeline.
The Azure Administrator Exam AZ-103 will become AZ-104
Azure Developer Exam AZ-203 will become AZ-204
Azure Architect Exam AZ-300 will become AZ-303
The Azure Architect Design Exam AZ-301 will become AZ-304
There will still be a few more. I will update this blog as and when Microsoft announces the changes.
These new Azure exams will be in beta for around 90 days. So, both the new and the old exams will run parallel for around 90 days, beyond which the old exams will be retired. After that, the new Azure exams will go LIVE.
If you are thinking about the current certifications, you have time till June 2020 to clear.
Why Microsoft has updated the Azure Certifications again?
The current set of certifications have some duplicate objectives across different certifications. This is an effort by Microsoft to streamline and delineate the exam objectives so you can have a seamless certification experience.
For example, the AZ-300/AZ-301 will be ripped off of some of the developer/administrator questions.
So, we are looking at new exams being more focused and relevant
But I have already started my preparations for AZ-103
The new exam AZ-104 will be available in beta only in March 2020 and the current exam AZ-103 will retire around June 2020. So, if you have already started preparation, and are too close to it, go ahead with the exam. Your certification will still be valid for 2 years.
However, note that, if you take the new exams, you will get a different badge just to certify you of the updated knowledge.
An additional advantage of taking the new exams AZ-104 / AZ-204 / AZ-303 / AZ-304 is that you can take them in beta with an 80% discount (not everyone may be able to get).
A major downside to taking the beta exams is you would not find the study materials for the updated content online. Even Microsoft documentation would lag behind. So you have to figure out a lot of things by yourself. Unless you have a good grasp of Cloud and Azure, it probably does not make sense to take the beta exams.
Another con is if you do take the beta exam, you wait for about 2 months to get the result.
Such changes put me in a fix. I have to postpone my certification plans
Not really. If the idea of getting Azure certification already lingers on your mind, go for it. No point in postponing your career. All the wonderful materials are already available for the current exam content from providers like:
1. Pluralsight (Free trial),
4. Practice tests [from Whizlabs] &
I have just taken the AZ-103/AZ-300/AZ-301 exam...
There is nothing to worry about. The certification that you acquired is still valid for 2 years. However, if your certification expires this year, you can wait and take the new azure AZ-104/AZ-303/AZ-304 exams.
I have already taken AZ-300. Now I am preparing for AZ-301. What should I do?
If you can do it before the deadline, go for AZ-301. Else, you can take AZ-304 as well. Both AZ-300 and AZ-304 will count toward the achievement of the Azure Architect badge.
Similarly, if you had already taken AZ-301, passing AZ-303 will count toward the badge as well.
What are the changes to the new Azure exams?
Well, for AZ-204 (refer to the updated skills here), some of the content has been ripped off to make it a more focused exam. So, topics like the RBAC, Batch, API apps, Search and so on would not be part of the developer exam.
In AZ-104, there is more focus on monitoring and alerts sections.
For the exam AZ-303, sections like messaging and autoscaling, which are less architecture-like are removed. More emphasis on monitoring. So, most of the development-related objectives are removed.
In the exam AZ-304, most of the designing strategy sections are removed.
Where can I find the updated content for AZ-104/AZ-303/AZ-304?
The rapid pace of updates to Azure certifications means that all the training providers will be lagging behind. The best place to find the updated content will be Microsoft Learn (The content will be updated within 7 days of the release of the updated exam).
I have updated all the Azure Certificate Study Guides on my blog. So, be sure to check this site for the updated exam resources.
In a nutshell, it is not a difficult choice to make whether to take the old or the new exams:
If you have already planned, go for it. If you were just considering, hold on!
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