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Taking the DP-201 Exam? Here’s what you need to know!

Ben Edwards

As a follow up to my recent post, we’ll be discussing Microsoft’s DP-201 exam (“Designing an Azure Data Solution”); the second exam and final step required in gaining the Azure Data Engineer Associate certification.

If you haven’t already read my recent post on preparing for the DP-200 exam, I would highly encourage you to do so first before reading any further.


As with any exam preparation, I always start off by reading the exam outline, as it helps me to understand the scope of the questions that could be asked. In this case, I used the Skills Measured document provided by Microsoft.

What you’ll notice here is that Microsoft have actually provided the same document for both DP-200 and DP-201. This is intentional as the content in both exams is very similar.

With this being said, the good news for you is that if you have already completed DP-200, you are well on your way to taking DP-201 and gaining the Azure Data Engineer qualification.

DP-200 vs DP-201

The main difference I found between the 2 exams is within the style of questions that are used.

DP-200 focuses on the implementation of Azure Data Solutions (such as Azure SQL DB, Cosmos DB and Databricks) and how these technologies would be deployed and implemented in a real world scenario.

In contrast, DP-201 focuses on solution design, and how you would choose the best solution for the job when given a set of requirements to work with.

By asking the questions in this format, DP-201 makes sure that you understand the benefits and limitations of each technology. Only then can you decide and effectively recommend which technology should be used.

Learning Resources

As the content in DP-200 and DP-201 share many similarities, I would first encourage you to review the resources highlighted in my previous post, but this time, make sure you concentrate on the benefits/limitations of each technology and in what scenarios they would be suitable for use.

Additionally, I then used the following resources for my preparation:

Azure Architectures:

Microsoft publish diagrams and reference architectures for common workloads in Azure Architecture Center.

Based on the exam requirements, I found that the following architectures were particularly useful for you to study:


Microsoft have provided an excellent summary video on YouTube which talks about the DP-201 exam structure in further detail.

Hands-on Experience:

The majority of your study time should then comprise of gaining hands-on experience with the technologies involved in the exam. If you have access to an Azure subscription, I highly recommend you build these demos yourself and experiment with the features described in the exam.

With this approach, you may find yourself making mistakes, but I find that this improves your knowledge far quicker than any perfectly-executed tutorials can. The demos are also a great learning opportunity to understand the types of issues you may find during a real-world deployment.

Here are some examples of what demos I decided to build during my preparation:

  • Ingesting sample data with Azure Data Factory from an Azure Data Lake into Azure SQL Database.
  • Creating an Azure Event Hub and applying a Stream Analytics job to the incoming data stream. You can then try joining the results to reference data that is stored in blob storage.
  • Deploying Cosmos DB and insert/modify/delete records. You can also test out different APIs and consistency models, along with the ability to replicate your data globally.
  • Deploy Azure SQL Databases and implement sharding using the Elastic client library.
  • Create a Databricks workspace and assign permissions to multiple users/groups. Create a notebook to ingest and transform sample data before loading into an Azure Synapse DW.

There are many more combinations you can try, and I’d encourage you to explore as much you can to deeper your understanding of each technology.


Before the exam, I was initially concerned about how scarce training materials are for the DP-201 exam.

In hindsight I can see why this is the case, as you’re now being asked to supplement your existing DP-200 knowledge with more hands-on experience, and to answer questions on the same technologies but with a design focus.

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-201!


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