At Coeo, we are actively encouraged to take exams and broaden our understanding in new areas. Not only do these exams help focus our learning, they help to build a breadth of qualifications throughout the company.
In this post, we’ll be discussing Microsoft’s DP-200 exam; the first of two exams required to gain the Azure Data Engineer Associate certification.
After recently qualifying, I wanted to share my personal experience of the exam and some valuable resources that I gathered along the way. I will also follow up with a separate blog post on taking the second exam of the Azure Data Engineer certification, DP-201.
Azure Data Services are continually changing, so the exams must be regularly updated as well to stay relevant. Since DP-200 was released in January 2019, there have been 3 major updates to the exam content in June 2019, December 2019 and March 2020.
As a first port-of-call, it’s vital that you review the Skills Measured document for DP-200 before any exam preparation starts. It will help you understand which technologies are covered and the type of questions you should expect to see (e.g. “Implement a consistency model for Azure Cosmos DB”).
Once you are happy with the exam outline, you should then work through the resources outlined below:
Microsoft provide a number of online training modules entirely free of charge for Azure Data Engineers.
The modules cover the following topics through hands-on learning sections and provide an “Azure Sandbox”, allowing you to build out the resources in the demo without incurring charges.
- Azure for the Data Engineer – overview of available Azure Data Services and the tasks of a Data Engineer.
- Store Data in Azure - choosing a data storage solution in Azure (e.g. Azure Blob Storage, Azure Data Lake Storage Gen 2).
- Work with relational data in Azure - provisioning, scaling, and securing Azure SQL Database.
- Work with NoSQL data in Azure Cosmos DB – Create, Insert, Query and Optimize Azure Cosmos DB.
- Implement a Data Streaming Solution with Azure Stream Analytics – Configure a Stream Analytics instance and transform real-time data.
- Implement a Data Warehouse with Azure Synapse Analytics (formerly Azure SQL Data Warehouse) – Design, Query and Secure an Azure Synapse data warehouse.
- Perform Data Engineering with Azure Databricks – Create, load, and transform batch/streaming data using Azure Databricks.
The learning paths formed a large proportion of my exam preparation, and I found the content well written and up-to-date. There are also quiz questions between each section which I would highly recommend completing to reinforce your learning along the way.
This might be an obvious one, but there are intentional gaps in the learning pathways which the exam expects you to fill with specific knowledge on the technologies in scope.
To get you started, I’ve provided some resources below for details that were particularly useful, based on the Skills Measured document:
There are also high-quality training materials available for free on YouTube which I would recommend you some time to review (especially if the paid resources below aren’t available to you):
- EXAM PREP: DP-200 | Implementing an Azure Data Solution (Microsoft)
- Azure Cosmos DB | Globally Distributed Databases
- Azure Data Factory | Introduction to ETL in Azure
- Azure SQL Database | Relational Databases in Azure
- Azure Databricks Tutorial | Data transformations at scale
- Introduction to Azure Stream Analytics
Microsoft partnered with Pluralsight to produce training content specifically for the DP-200 and DP-201 exams. There are over 40 hours of training courses available on the site along with skill measurement assessments to gauge your proficiency in each topic.
I found the training courses useful in gaining a deeper understanding of the exam topics. The only downside I found was that some module topics are repeated across different training courses, so you may find yourself covering the same topics in different areas. That being said, I liked having a variety of instructors as they all teach in slightly different ways.
Even if you don’t have a Pluralsight subscription, I’ve found there are always promotional offers available and free trials which I’d highly recommend taking advantage of to incorporate these videos into your exam preparations.
For DP-200, I didn’t use a practice test, but I have in the past and can recommend them if you want to test your knowledge ahead of exam day.
The only downside to taking practice tests is that they are fairly expensive and if you have the option, I’d recommend using Pluralsight’s Skill Assessments instead as they are already included in your training subscription.
To give you an estimated study time for DP-200, I spent around 65 hours in total preparing, but your time may vary depending on initial experience level.
Once you’ve completed DP-200, I would strongly recommend taking DP-201 in quick succession as there is a large amount of cross-over between the exams.
Thank you very much for reading, and on behalf of everyone at Coeo, I'd like to wish you the best of luck for DP-200!