Have you ever thought about the best approach to preparing for and passing a Microsoft certification exam? Well, lucky for you, I will give you the best tips and tricks that have helped me so far.
Before joining Concurrency, I only dreamed of being able to take a Microsoft certification exam, let alone pass it. Unfortunately, the ambition wasn’t there. There wasn’t much motivation for it either. That all changed 4 months ago. I’ve already conquered 2 certifications, (MS-700 Microsoft 365 Certified: Teams Administrator Associate and MS-900 Microsoft 365 Certified: Fundamentals) and also have plans to pass more, too. 😊 Passing an exam requires preparation, dedication, and the right plan of attack to increase the chance of success. And just to make sure you have the whole picture; I failed some too. But failing can be a good thing and I will explain why later in this post.
The first and most obvious thing to do is to figure out a skill that you think you have a good amount of knowledge about and narrow down your certification of choice from there.
The best way to figure that out is to recall your past experiences.
- What were you good at doing?
- What kind of Microsoft related technologies have you implemented?
- What’s a Microsoft application where you’ve been the go-to person for questions, and you feel comfortable answering them?
Ideally, your first exam should be relevant to your career path in some way. But I should also highlight that while having the experience is helpful, it may not always be necessary. Some people use certifications to obtain entry level positions. Certifications are very attractive to recruiters and could help potentially earn yourself a higher salary!
This next step is also very important. STUDY! But it’s not just studying, it’s the way you study. Some people are better listeners/visualists and absorb information better from videos and recordings, others prefer reading articles, books, blogs, tech notes, etc. That choice will ultimately be your personal preference. If you’re a reader, I recommend Microsoft Learn (there may be sprinkles of videos too depending on the course). It is the single most effective method to Microsoft exam preparation. Plus, who else is better to get training material from for Microsoft exams than, well, Microsoft? If videos are your jam, there is tons of content from 3rd party sites like Udemy, Pluralsight, LinkedIn Learning, and even Youtube.
In addition, studies have shown that writing things down seems to allow the brain to better retain info versus typing it, so that’s a technique you want to keep in your back pocket. I’d recommend 2-4 weeks of studying at least a few times a week in one-hour intervals or until you feel the content is absorbed well. Next, you can try a practice dump to test what you’ve learned and potential areas of improvement. My favorite practice exam site is ITExams.
To schedule an exam, go here and find the exam you’re interested in taking. There will be an option to schedule it (I use PearsonVue from home, but I believe you can take the exam in person too if you wish) and you will receive a confirmation email with details. There is usually a cost associated but depending on if your employer account is linked, you may get a partial or full discount.
The day of the exam: Clear your head. Brush up on any last-minute content that still has you stumped sometimes. If you plan to take the exam from home, please remember the following:
- Make sure you find a room in your home where you can be alone the entire time.
- Your desk space should be cleaned off and clear. This includes removal of monitors, tablets, phones, etc.
- You will need your driver’s license/ID
- You will be required to take pictures of your testing area.
- You will be on camera the entire time.
- Once the exam is live, stepping away, pulling out your phone, looking away too often, or talking are all examples of forfeiture.
Don’t worry about failing! Your exam summary will show what areas you need improvement on if you don’t pass. YOU GOT THIS!
What ways help YOU be successful in preparing for and passing a Microsoft Certification exam?