Last August, I passed exam AZ-104 Microsoft Azure Administrator. What I’ll do in this blog post is share how I studied for this exam, which resources I used and what worked for me.


Nowadays there are a lot of Azure exams available so why did I choose AZ-104? My main reason to take this exam was to learn about topics that weren’t part of my skill set.

Throughout my career, my roles have always been primarily as a developer focused on the analytics area. Prior to my involvement in the cloud world, I never really had to worry about areas such as networking or even infrastructure in most cases, I always had people specialized on those areas that would take care of those side of things.

However, since I started to work with Azure in late 2019, I found myself struggling in some conversations especially around the networking area. I quickly realized that I had to invest some time to expand my knowledge and prepare myself better for a new reality.

Study Material

There’s a lot of study material out there, countless video courses, documentation, etc, so I had to narrow down my choices to a few of them and focus just on those. Here’s a list of what I used:

  • Exam Page - kind of obvious I know but it will be your reference, especially the exam skills measured document which you can find here.
  • Ross Bagurdes’ courses on Pluralsight (this one and this other one) - these courses aren’t exactly for AZ-104 in particular but since networking was my weakest point from all the topics in the exam, watching this before diving into the exam contents was very helpful and Ross courses are really good.
  • CloudSkills AZ-104 Course - Mike and Tim go through all the content in a 3-day workshop they ran live. It’s great and it covers all the topics in the exam.
  • Microsoft Learn - so much good content you can find at MS Learn and not only for AZ-104. The exam page lists several AZ-104 related learning paths that you can follow.
  • Study guides - Thomas Maurer’s and Richard’s aka Pixel Robots study guides are very useful, mainly the sections where they list, for each item in the exam, a MS Docs page where you can read about each topic.
  • Whizlabs practice tests - 4 practice tests, each with 55 questions, which will test your knowledge in all the different areas.

Study Strategy

The way I approached the study for this exam can be sum up in the following steps:

  • Watch a CloudSkills video - this was always my starting point into a specific content block since it gave me a good understanding of what I needed to focus on for that block and also what I needed to investigate further.
  • Study guides/MS Docs - my next step would be to go through the study guides and open the MS docs to read the documentation on each item. It’s really good from a theoretical approach but many of those docs will also have sections where you can practice some of that theory with examples using the Azure Portal, PowerShell or Azure CLI. This was the step where I’d write down my notes to review somewhere down the line.
  • MS Learn - after going through the theory, it was always time to put it into practice and that’s where MS Learn comes into play. In most of them you’ll get an introduction to the topic it covers and then some practice examples so you can actually get hands-on with whatever topic you’re looking at. Some of those modules even provide Azure sandbox environments where you can execute those practice steps.
  • Practice Tests - at the end of each block, I’d normally open Whizlabs practice tests in practice mode and go through questions related with what I’ve just studied, making notes about topics I needed to review better. Practice tests are really good for this since you will come across questions on topics you haven’t even looked at or specific details you haven’t considered.
  • Review - this last step is pretty much a mix of all the ones above. Based on how confident I’d feel after going through a block, I’d go back and maybe rewatch a specific portion of the CloudSkills video or maybe read the docs in more detail and I’d definitely put into practice whatever I was reviewing, I’m the type of person that need to see things working to get a better understanding of them.


Talking about timelines and giving any kind of advice is always a tricky subject. We all live in different realities, have different commitments, different motivations, more or less time available. What I’ll tell you is how long it took me to prepare for this and how I dealt with it.

I started studying for the exam around end of April 2020 which happened to coincide with the 1st wave of lockdowns due to COVID-19. It also meant that both me and my wife were working a full-time job while having to look after a 2 year old 24*7. That, in itself, was already hard enough so imagine adding to it studying for this exam. Since I knew my time would be very limited during the day, I decided to wake up at around 6am so I could get about 2h of study in the morning. Then, depending on how tired I’d be, I would study 1h more at night before going to bed but mornings were more productive. Days were long, from 6am to 11pm/12am and sometimes it was a struggle to push through. I ended up scheduling the exam in July for end of August so we can say it took me about 4 months to study and take AZ-104. I can honestly say that it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my wife and I’m sure that’s something a lot of you can relate to especially if you have a family with little kids.

You’ll see many people saying to schedule a date for the exam once you start studying, ideally 1-2months away, so that you feel forced to commit to your study (I had people I asked for advice telling me that). That didn’t work for me and I don’t think it ever will, I need to be determined to do something to put some effort into it. Also, I didn’t want the extra pressure with everything else that was going on at the time. I’m not saying that’s bad advice, it really depends from person to person.

Your motivations/needs may also be different: do you need to get this certification for your company within a short period of time? Then taking a few months isn’t an option for you! Do you want to get this certification to improve your chances of a promotion or apply for a new role? Then taking a few months may not work for you.

I’m also a very thorough person and I tend to go into the smaller details when trying to learn something. MS Docs are a “dangerous” place and I often say that, sometimes, for me, it’s a bit like a rabbit hole and I keep going deeper and deeper. I probably spent more than the required time looking at some topics but that worked for me, it allowed me to learn at the pace I wanted.


Looking back at what I did, would I change anything? Yes, there’s one thing I’d change. I started by focusing my study on the blocks I considered to be my weak points: Deploy and manage Azure compute resources and Configure and manage virtual networking. It also happens that these 2 are the biggest blocks in the exam. The problem I had is that because it took me quite a bit of time to go through everything, when I got closer to the exam date, some of the topics in those blocks were already a bit fuzzy and I had to review them again.

If you don’t put them into practice every day, which I don’t, it’s easy to forget some details. My plan was to focus first on the hardest blocks and leave for last the components I already knew things about and felt more comfortable with. In retrospective, assuming I’d take again about 4 months to study for the exam, I’d swap the order and leave the hardest blocks to the end.

All in all, I can’t really complain. It was a process that required a decent amount of effort from my side but it was also a process that allowed me to gain new knowledge that leaves me more comfortable dealing with certain situations. Do I consider myself an expert in networking, infrastructure or administration in general? No, not at all! I’ll still seek the advice of people that are experts in these subjects. However, I feel that I now have some new tools in my skill set that allow me to have conversations that I’d struggle with before and that’s something I’ve confirmed since I passed the exam.

Obviously, having a certification looks good on your CV (or at least doesn’t hurt) but that wasn’t my main goal and considering the goals I set for myself in the beginning, I’m quite happy with how things went.

Wrapping Up

To wrap up this blog post, I hope that some of the information here can help you study for the AZ-104 exam. I can’t really tell you how to study or how to organize your life to have time for studying but I told you what worked for me and maybe there’s some tips here that can also help you during this process.

If you’re about to take this exam or are planning on take this exam in the future, good luck!