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How to Pass the Microsoft AZ-104 Exam in 2024

Feb 12, 2024 7:30:00 AM / by Val Bakh


AZ-104 is a certification exam that is required to gain the designation of Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate. As an Azure Administrator Associate, you’ll be performing tasks related to managing and maintaining your organization’s Azure cloud environment, such as creating and configuring virtual machines, virtual networks, and other Azure resources, implementing and managing storage solutions, and ensuring compliance with security standards. Such skills are in high demand as more companies migrate to cloud platforms.

How to start preparing for Microsoft AZ-104

The very first thing you need to do is to thoroughly review the most recent version of the official exam prep guide. Make sure that it is the official list of the topics to be included in the exam. Microsoft doesn't publish exam specifics; however the Microsoft training support forums can be a helpful resource. You can read some of the forum comments to learn what people are saying about how many questions you are likely to have, how much time you will be given, and the kinds of questions you will most likely encounter.

The number of questions in this exam has been changing over time, and how many you can expect today is still a rather murky question. Internet resources say that you can get numbers ranging from less than 50 up to well over 60. According to my sources, in late 2023 and onward, you will most likely get 100 minutes to answer around 50 questions in total, including half a dozen or so that are part of one case study and yet another half a dozen or so of Yes/No questions in a separate section. Sections are not timed separately; the 100-minute limit (or 120-minutes if your exam happens to include labs) applies to the entire exam. The good news is that, most likely, your AZ-104 exam will not include labs.

It is always good to be mindful of the passing time and not to dwell on a single section for longer than absolutely necessary. Also consider that each section has its own navigation rules. Once you exit a section, you are not allowed to return to it. Using a practice exam to practice pacing yourself can be very helpful.

What to keep in mind

Small things

Studying for an exam is different from training for a job. In real life, as an Azure admin, you will likely deal with a relatively small number of typical tasks that you will need to perform on a daily basis. You will always have access to documentation and can look up the necessary information. After a short while, you will know your stuff backwards and forwards. Surprises, although generally possible, will probably not be a common occurrence. In contrast, on the exam, surprises are a natural ingredient—no matter how many brain dumps you might have consumed. You are not allowed to consult any technical sources during the exam and are expected to keep everything you’ve learned in your head.

Azure is not just about virtual machines (VMs), virtual networks (VNets), and storage accounts. There are hundreds of services, each with a multitude of features and flavors and its own know-how. Therefore, it is not surprising at all that you are expected to have a small encyclopedia in your head. Just to give you a little taste of the level of detail you will need to memorize, consider the following questions:

  • What are the available kinds of storage accounts?
  • Which of those kinds are legacy, Standard-performance, or Premium-performance?
  • Which performance tiers do the legacy kinds support?
  • Which types of data does each kind support?
  • Which redundancy options does each kind support?
  • Which access tiers does each kind support?

The answers to those questions—not very difficult in themselves—are not exactly easy to come by, for a variety of reasons: they are buried across multiple places in Microsoft’s official Azure documentation, some of the publications may contradict the others, and the articles are often not written very clearly.

So, one thing to keep in mind is that what is usually thought of as minor technical facts not worth memorizing is, in fact, an important part of this exam’s requisite body of knowledge.

Technical nuggets

Have you heard about Azure Active Directory? It is in the center of pretty much everything in Azure because it is the primary repository of identity information. Nearly all of access control is built around AAD principals. Microsoft has recently rebranded AAD as Microsoft Entra ID. If you encounter this term in the exam, don’t be dismayed; just think of it as AAD instead.

Don’t confuse similar, but nevertheless distinct, concepts. For example, there are two almost completely unrelated types of roles: AAD and role-based access control (RBAC). AAD—or maybe in your exam they will be called Entra ID—roles provide permissions for managing users, groups, and other principals. RBAC roles provide authority over Azure resources.

Role-assignable groups are the groups that can be assigned roles. In relation to RBAC roles, any security group can be assigned roles. Distinguishing between role-assignable and regular groups is meaningful only in relation to AAD roles. Only the groups that have been specifically created as role-assignable can be assigned AAD roles.

Role-assignable groups cannot be nested. Regular groups can be nested, but some features apply only to the top-level, or parent, groups, whereas other features apply to the nested groups as well. You need to know which features are in each of those two categories. For example, RBAC role assignments do propagate to all members of all nested groups, whereas license assignments do not.

Do not confuse BlobStorage and BlockBlobStorage. They sound very similar and both support the same types of data, but the former is a Standard-performance legacy storage account kind whereas BlockBlobStorage is a Premium-performance kind. BlobStorage supports hot, cool, and archive access tiers but does not support zone-redundant storage (ZRS) replication. BlockBlobStorage, on the contrary, does not support access tiers and supports ZRS.

The Reader and other similar roles (whose names include the word “reader”) allow read access to the target resources or data. Read access is often referred to as read-only access. The word “only” misleads some people to believe that the Reader roles prevent write and other types of access. For example, it is a common misconception that, if the Reader role and a more permissive role, such as Contributor, are assigned to the same user for the same resources, the user is restricted to read-only access. The Reader role allows you to read and does not prevent you from writing or other types of access that might be allowed to you by other roles.

Be mindful of the Allowed resource types policies. These policies are not as permissive as their name implies. In fact, they are quite restrictive because they prohibit all types of resources except the ones that are explicitly listed as allowed. For example, if such a policy allows VMs, it means that only VMs are allowed, whereas VNets (as well as any other types of resources) are not allowed.

How to read the questions

JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) is a popular special text-based format for many types of documents, including Azure Resource Manager (ARM) templates, policies, and roles. If you encounter questions related to JSON, don't thoroughly read through any piece of JSON code. Instead, read the rest of the question first and see exactly what your task is. Chances are that you will then need to look for only a couple of specific pieces of information in that JSON code rather than parse it in its entirety.

The best way to pass

Generally, the human brain is very resilient and, given enough time and effort, can learn pretty much anything. However, the sheer scale of Azure imposes certain limitations on the exam-prep process. This is where Boson’s ExSim Max practice exam products come into play. They help you focus on only the concepts that are really important for passing the exams and safely skip the stuff that is highly unlikely to come up in your exam.

There are many exam prep tools available. Choosing the right one is a difficult task in itself. Everyone invariably claims that their tool is the best on the market, but how do you really know?

Why ExSim-Max for AZ-104?

Expertise: Boson has been developing practice exams for 25 years.

Author experience: Boson's highly qualified team of subject-matter experts have over 75 years of combined experience developing learning solutions to help students and professionals obtain the skills required to succeed.

Guarantee: Boson offers a No Pass, No Pay Guarantee. If you don't pass the AZ-104 Exam on your first attempt, we will issue a full refund. 



Val Bakh

Written by Val Bakh

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