Yesterday I sat the AZ-103 Microsoft Azure Administrator Associate exam and passed 🙂 I took it via the online proctored method to save going to an exam centre, and have a mixed feeling over this experience compared to previous ones.

The Good

  • I didn’t have to travel to an exam centre, as my local ones are all 45 minutes – 1 hour each way and parking is usually an issue.
  • I didn’t have to sit in an exam centre – these are usually in pretty run down locations, with ageing PCs, 4:3 screens still (!) on very old Dell PCs, and the heating / cooling is nearly always wrong, or another exam candidate is making noises, rocking the row of tables, etc

The Not So-Good

I don’t like to complain, but I did have a few negative experiences with this online exam. My last online exam was ~3-4 months ago and a few things have changed:

  • The Pearson OnVue software has been updated, and the new download is flagged by Windows Defender. Not the biggest challenge in the world, but considering I was taking a Microsoft exam, on Microsoft Windows, I would have expected a bit better integration.
  • The pre-check is useful, but there is clearly a list of disallowed apps it has detected running – it would be useful if they could all be listed at once, rather than one at a time, saying “xxx.exe” is a disallowed application, then it exits. So you close that one, and have to reload the software and go through the entire process again, just to reach the next disallowed application. This got very frustrating quickly!
  • The new process requires you to take photos on your mobile of your ID and the room (front, back, left, right) and upload them. After each upload there is a delay whilst it then checks the photo meets their standard. Mine kept coming back with a warning of too dark or too light, or out of focus, when everything was perfectly readable.
  • I then had to complete this sign in process twice, as after the first attempt it loaded the practice exam – and then never returned back to the “segin exam” screen. Task manager and close task was required.
  • Then I had to sit and wait for ~ 15 minutes for the ID to be “verified” by an invigilator. Some kind of progress or update would have been useful as I thought the software had just frozen, so I called Pearson’s support – and spoke to somebody that couldn’t understand English, and then couldn’t understand my issue – very frustrating.
  • When I finished the last question I was then asked to participate in a study for Microsoft – the usual what is your experience working with this subject survey, and then it just closed down. I had no feedback what so ever about the exam. Did I pass? Did I fail? Who knows, the software closed down. Luckily I could find the result in the Microsoft Learning Dashboard – it updated after about half an hour.

The above experiences have made me question if I will take the next exam online or not, as you just don’t need these kind of frustrations at exam time!

AZ-103 Study Guide

So what did I use for studying? Well, a combination of:

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