Tips for passing Azure Security Engineer Certification (AZ- 500)

It was almost 2 years of break from the MS certifications before I tried AZ-500 early this week, it was an interesting one. It was the first MS certification I have ever appeared with hands on lab though it was bit of a surprise. I thought of sharing my experience on exam which might be helpful if you are trying get this certification.  

The exam is total 3 and half hours with 3 hours of exam time. I suggest you to go through exam skills outline before you starting the preparation. I started with course in the Linux Academy. I found it is especially good for Azure Active Directory as it covers all the features of AAD that is part of P2. The course covers almost all the subject required for the exam for us to start preparing for the exam. However, don’t stop it there…  we need to deep dive in to each subject with MS documentations. Importantly, you need to do lot of hands-on for each topic described in the exam skills outline.

The exam was divided in to 3 parts.

First part was 32 or 34 multiple choice questions mostly individual questions those are based on different scenarios. However, there were few questions which are connected to each other’s. We need to be careful there because if you answer the first question wrong and others also will go wrong.

Second part was 12 hands on lab tasks from different areas like register an application in AAD, restrict storage account to access only from one IP, assign an ASG to a VM etc.  I could not do 3 labs as there were resources were not available like it was mentioned in the tasks. So, I provided it as a feedback in the comments section towards the end of the exam.

Third part was 5 questions based on a cases study. It was mostly around AAD and network security.

Please remember not to miss the study of below mentioned topics before you appear for the exams.

AAD MFA, Conditional access especially policies, PIM, Application registration, Identity protection, Key Vault, security on SQL, AKS especially roles, Security Center, NSG, ASG, Azure Policy, Blueprint, Monitor, Log analytics, Azure Firewall, UDR etc. I recommend you check the security related topics of famous services like App Services, HDInsight, Cosmo DB, Azure Sentinel, Bastion Host, Application Gateway, Management Groups etc.

Let me give you my suggestions on how to prepare for this exam.

Start with the courses available to you, then deep dive into those topics with good hands on. I suggest you opt for AAD P2 trial if it is still available to you. It is important for you get good grip on the AAD related topics. Then go for a practice tests which would give you an idea of exam questions patterns. Then you can start your last round of preparations to fill the gap of your learning that identified from the practice exams. 

Microsoft has introduced online proctored exams few years ago. It is useful as you can write your exams from home. But there are some rules that you need to follow which is provided in the URL above. I used this few times already and it is very convenient.

On exam day, if you are opting for online proctored exam it would take around 3.5 hours to 4 hours to complete overall procedure and you would not be able move from your seat during this time. I covered first part (32 questions) in 45 -60 minutes then spent remaining hours (more than 90 minutes) on the lab until the last 30 minutes. There were some issues with lab resources provided and browser restarted few time. The last case study, I took almost 30 minutes and I had only just around 1-minute left. For each part, you can take as much time you want but you would get only 3 hours for exam in total.

 So, it is important that you eat and drink sufficiently before the exam but at the same make sure that you don’t drink so much of water unless your bladder can hold so much of water 😊.

I hope it was useful… Wish You all the best for your exams.

4 Replies to “Tips for passing Azure Security Engineer Certification (AZ- 500)”

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