Wednesday 3 August 2022

Tested by many things

Just doing it

I decided not to beat myself up for the fact that July presented no prolific blogging activity even as I split the month between celebrating my partner’s birthday and holidaying, out of which I took the time for intensive study to do a Microsoft test.

After I did the AZ-900: Microsoft Azure Fundamentals entry-level test which I had been putting off for so long until early June, I began studying for the AZ-104: Microsoft Azure Administrator test, though this was not until I had completed all the course work on the Microsoft Learn website, even though I had handsomely passed the test. I did initially think I would finish that track before I travelled to Cape Town at the end of June.

Recovering self and purpose

Events and issues scuppered that plan, I lost my uncle, my contract was ending, and I was preparing for the trip to Cape Town to celebrate Brian’s birthday and spend the month together. The first few days left me slightly indisposed even as I discreetly planned for his birthday. Visiting Cape Town in the southern hemisphere’s winter might have me considering if I need the flu jab as we do take it for the winter in the northern hemisphere. Winter in Cape Town is like a mild spring to a summer day in Manchester, they are closer to the tropics than we are.

After his birthday, we did a few things, and moved accommodations and I found that I had some free time to do some study which required discipline and concentration as there was a lot of material to cover. Beyond the theory, there are the hands-on labs and then getting used to doing requisite tasks towards achieving goals or requirements borne out of typical case studies.

As I learnt and understood much more, I believed I had gained enough confidence, maybe folly to book the AZ-104 test in cape Town, a few days before my return to the UK. The more I thought I had covered everything, there was much more to do. A YouTube video signified the test in its current format with its current syllabus would change on the 28th of July. I was now running against the clock to get it done.

Upset to messed up

I found some practice tests and subscribed to an annual membership of Whizlabs, this exposed some areas of serious weakness in my grasp of the concepts and the detail, that needed urgent addressing if I had any hope of scraping through the test. Progress in gaining the requisite understanding of the weak areas was slow.

The test was booked for Tuesday, the 26th of July at the Prometric office in Cape Town, I checked in the shared workspace and was working towards taking the test at noon, when at 9:38 AM, I received an email from Prometric Vue, the test provider that they could not offer the test and I had to reschedule. Their scheduling system lagged the reality of what they intended, as I spent the next hour with an agent trying to sort it out. In the end, I had the test cancelled and booked a new test date for the next day at another Prometric test centre of the 4 in Cape Town.

The morning’s nonsense left me a bit messed up, I did a walk from the shared workspace home and back to clear my head before I could pore over the material towards the test the next day. Meanwhile, my Whizlabs profile got corrupted that I could not review test attempts and it was not working on my Android devices at all. Thankfully, the CEO contacted me to connect on LinkedIn and that gave me access to the technical team to provide a temporary account whilst they fixed the issue.

Facing up to it

On Wednesday morning, I had a niggling thought that I was about to undertake the test with the barest minimum grasp of the material. Yet, the truth is I had put in over 4 weeks of work along with my experience, and my confidence was taking a hit as Brian assured me that I will do well. At the test centre, I was met with both nonchalance and officialdom, both of which I put down to getting what you pay for in a different kind of setting. The test costs $55 in South Africa, £113 in the United Kingdom, and $165 in the United States. It would appear South Africa has the lowest cost, as most other African domains pay $80.

I was stripped of everything including my walking cane I had to ask if I would have been allowed to use a wheelchair. Then short of being patted down, I was asked to upturn my sleeves to see if I had secreted away cheat sheets of something. Heck! I have been doing vendor certifications since 1994 and this was the first time I was so violated. I surmised, it came with the territory and calmly went into the test room to begin the test some 15 minutes ahead of schedule.

Tested by the test

I did not get a hang of the interface when I was presented from the first question with case studies. I could click on the case study body and requirements but did not realise I had to click on the Question box at the top to return context to what I was to answer. I was close to panicking mode. When I eventually worked out how to do things, I had two case studies, with 9 questions and 32 minutes gone out of 90, with 45 questions to do.

Halfway through I scared myself into thinking I had already failed the test. With 10 minutes left, I had 12 questions to do, they were point-and-click multiple choice questions that I got done with 2 minutes to spare. I marked one question for review, answered that and could not wait to end my ordeal that when presented with the 54 questions to individually comment on each, I passed on the opportunity and closed the test.

The relief of passing

My heart beating at rates it should never reach, the test result came up and I had passed, not glowingly, one section required work, others were rated at average understanding and one at the level of very good. I would not deceive myself into thinking having passed by the skin of my teeth, I was through, I am going to study the material fully again and this would be necessary for the next stage AZ-305: Designing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions for the Microsoft Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification.

However, after this, I did give myself the time to do other things, especially with Brian and time to myself. There is a good feeling and sense of achievement, the quest to challenge oneself to ascertain, validate, and certify the knowledge and expertise one has gained. I suppose that is the pleasure one has in the work one does.

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