The old adage “fail to plan, plan to fail” could not be more true when it comes to preparing to take a Microsoft certification exam. Microsoft’s exams are known to be rigorous, even for experts.
Technical topics like Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Azure are quite demanding, and taking a Microsoft exam without studying is a good way to set yourself up for failure.
Why Should You Earn a Microsoft Certification?
While there are many platforms and areas of study to consider when pursuing or advancing in a technical career, one name stands out: Microsoft.
A Microsoft certification shows current and potential employers that you possess the core technical skills they require. You know and understand specific tools and applications, and your knowledge has been validated by Microsoft.
Microsoft Certified Professionals:
Are often hired more quickly by employers
Have more responsibility and more opportunities for advancement
Have deeper knowledge and understanding of technologies, creating time savings and higher productivity
Earn around $80,000 per year on average
Tips for Passing Microsoft Certification Exams
Before taking a Microsoft certification exam, you need to be prepared to increase your chances of success. The following are practical tips and resources to help you study for your Microsoft certification exam.
1. Establish a Study Routine
Give yourself some structure when it comes to studying, and prioritize your study time. If you don’t, it’ll be way too easy to procrastinate or ignore what you need to do.
Figure out when you can absorb new material the best. When will you have the least number of distractions? If you have kids, for example, it might be the easiest to study after they’ve gone to bed or before they get up in the morning.
2. Review Topics Covered on the Exam
Microsoft certification exams are very detailed — so much so that even deeply experienced professionals have failed. The questions are designed to challenge your knowledge, so it’s not advisable to just guess and hope for the best.
While you can’t know everything, you can get a head start with studying if you know the objectives and sub-objectives of each exam. Microsoft publishes the exam descriptions for all exams and lists their objectives. Each sub-objective will also have a set of skills that you’re going to be tested on, so review this page as much as possible until you’re comfortable.
3. Find Study Materials
Get study materials from legitimate sources that are sanctioned by Microsoft. Microsoft publishes its companion content online, and you can seek out online resources and forums from people who have previously taken the exam.
You can also take role-based certification training from a Microsoft Certified Trainer like New Horizons. Certified training companies have access to official Microsoft courseware, which aligns directly with the objectives in the exams. Role-based certification training courses, such as our Azure training, SQL Server training and Dynamics 365 training, can all help you dive deeper into a specific role while preparing for your exam.
4. Take Notes While Studying
"If in doubt, write it out.” Write down every technical detail you see while studying for any Microsoft Certification exam. Since Microsoft’s exams are notoriously detailed, this could be a lifesaver. While what you write down might not be on the exam, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Want to keep your notes organized for future reference? Consider using a note-taking app like Evernote or OneNote. Each has different features, so decide which one best suits your needs.
5. Practice Using the Technology
Hands-on experience will be invaluable as you take the exam. Instead of trying to answer questions about a theoretical practice you’ve only read about, you’ll have real-life knowledge of what a task does. But not everyone has access to technology like a sandbox data center to experiment with.
Taking a course from a Microsoft-certified training company should allow you to test your knowledge of the product in a lab environment. You can also sign up for a trial account to get familiar with most Microsoft products, including Azure, SQL Server, Windows and Dynamics 365.
6. Take Practice Exams
One of the most valuable things you can do to prepare for your final exam is take practice exams first. Treat the practice exams like real exams so that you understand what your approach should be when the big day comes. Expect to fail your first practice exam. Afterward, go through each wrong answer to determine your areas of weakness. Find out how to take an official practice exam here.
7. Relax on Exam Day
When it’s time for the exam, the best thing you can do is relax, knowing that you’ve prepared to the best of your ability. While you need to take every question seriously, going into the exam stressed and overwhelmed will increase your chance of failure. Perfection is not the goal; completion is. Let yourself off the hook by understanding that it’s okay to miss a question, occasionally guess or get confused by a question’s wording. You can always retake the exam if necessary.
Prepare for Any Microsoft Certification With New Horizons Training
A Microsoft certification could be a strong factor in advancing in your current job or getting a new job elsewhere. But remember: to earn a Microsoft certification, preparing yourself for the exam will give you the greatest chance of success.
New Horizons is here to help. New Horizons is a Microsoft Gold Learning Partner, providing world-class training on a multitude of Microsoft products. All of our Microsoft courses are taught by Microsoft Certified Trainers and follow the official Microsoft curriculum. Learn more about our Microsoft technical training and certification courses here, and get started on advancing your career now.