September 29, 2023

Preparing for the Azure Security Engineer AZ-500 Certification

Today I completed my Azure Security Engineer Associate exam and I just wanted to write a quick review of how I found it and the learning material I used.

Learning Material

I will outline the material that I used, or think should be used, in a sort of chronological order.

1. The exam objectives PDF (Skills Outlined) should be the starting point for any Microsoft exam. The objectives are regularly updated and noted in this PDF so it’s worth checking each week as you prepare for the exam.

2. Udemy Skylines Academy. The video content is 8.5 hours in total so it’s pretty lightweight. It doesn’t go too deep but it covers most of the exam objectives and I’d recommend watching it first prior to any study so you can get a feel for the topics and how Nick Colyer performs certain tasks. As Azure is in a constantly evolving state, don’t be surprised if the Azure Portal looks or works differently in a year’s time.

3. Microsoft Learn website has plenty of material on the exam objectives. If you look at the learning paths, it should guide you. It’s also worth looking at the additional paths regarding the administration of containers and networking options in Azure in general.

4. Thomas Thornton’s Blog on the exam objectives. Tommy has gone through the exam objectives PDF and has actually linked specifically to the areas in the Microsoft Documentation that you can review to understand

5. For the lab exercises, I went through the lab exercises and modules on the Microsoft Learning Github. You will get to practice with deployment scripts and command line options, probably more so than you need in the exam, but I think it really helps build a good overview of Azure and how you can use it. I found this to be the most time consuming but I think this is what helped me the most.

6. As you get closer to the exam, I recommend Whizlabs exam preparation — there are three sets of exam questions here which cover all the topics needed. I found this useful to gauge where I was weak and which subjects I should brush on. You can go back and revisit Thomas’ blog for detail or do the lab exercises to drill home on the weak points.

The Exam

The first time I did the exam, I scheduled it for December 31st and spent time going over the material over Christmas. When it came to the actual exam, it was a bit of a disaster. My lab seemed not to load correctly and then when it did, I had issues which lead to the exam being revoked. I was really annoyed but I think this was a blessing in disguise as I had more time to study. I was awarded another voucher by Pearson VUE as they admitted the issues were on their end.

Naturally this lead to a lot of anxiety about the lab environment in the exam so I really drilled down on the labs on the Microsoft Learning Github to get confident for the labs in the exam. I think this effort may have been in vain as I wasn’t presented with a lab environment for my retake. I am not sure why — possibly it was pulled due to the issues with the labs? I had heard of others complain of similar issues so I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the case.

So as you can see, my retake was only multiple choice questions and then a scenario setting at the end with additional questions. I can’t go too much into what the questions were but I’d say if you follow the process outlined above you should be good to have a crack at it.

Good luck!