MS-100 Passed: Update + Study Tips

This week, I had a small career victory in passing the Microsoft MS-100 (Microsoft 365 Identity and Services) exam.  This is the second Microsoft exam I have passed, with the first being the AZ-103 (now succeeded by the AZ-104).  I wanted to create this post because, after deciding to pursue the exam, I spent a great deal of time deciding how to study instead of actually studying;  If I can save you from hours of unproductive Googling and instead quickly direct you to an intentional study strategy, then my tire-spinning will not have been for nothing!  

This struggle may seem odd, since I had come into this exam with Microsoft certification experience; why would I reinvent my preparation process that had already worked?  When I studied for the AZ-103, a cocktail of Pluralsight and Udemy courses topped with a MeasureUp practice test was enough to pass.  There were a few reasons this method was less likely to succeed this time around: 

  • The MS-100 exam went through a re-write in February, rendering much of the available study material irrelevant. 
  • The MS-100 MeasureUp practice test was rated poorly…very poorly. 
  • While the AZ-103 exam outline contained mostly task-specific items, such as “view alerts in Azure Monitor,” the MS-100 had many broad, higher-level items such as “identify hybrid requirements” that likely would not translate as well to a video course. 

Eventually, I settled on the below strategy, which not only resulted in a pass, but more importantly helped me learn a great deal about Microsoft 365. 

My Exam Prep Process 

  1. Microsoft Learn – Start by following the recommended Microsoft Learn path for the certification.  You can find this by navigating to the official Exam page and scrolling to the bottom to the section titled “Online – Free.”  These modules do a pretty good job of explaining different products and concepts in layman’s terms.  For myself, this wouldn’t cut it as a standalone study resource, but it is an excellent kick-off point. 
  1. Exam Skills Outline – Microsoft publishes concepts that will be covered on the exam in a document known as the Exam Skills Outline.    Looking over this is a no-brainer.  To take it a step further, make a list of Microsoft Documents hyperlinks that relate to each item in outline.  Fortunately for me, the MS-100 documentation list had already been built by Ravi Srinivasulu
  1. Flashcards and Labs – To really cement the material from the outline in Step 2, I began going through each hyperlink and highlighting them as I completed them.  Articles that were topical overviews would be highlighted in yellow, articles that detailed a specific process were highlighted in cyan.  All hyperlinks resulted in either the creation of flashcards or the completion of a hands-on lab. 
    • Flashcards – Any information that seemed important was put on a flashcard.  I have been a fan of the Anki platform for years, but there are several to choose from.  I created a deck for each section of the exam.
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    • Labs – If I came across a task I had never completed before or was not comfortable with, I would complete it in my Microsoft 365 Developer tenant.  If you are unfamiliar, you can create your own completely-free sandbox Microsoft 365 environment and even have it populated with simulated users and data.  In one scenario, I wanted to test implementing a Conditional Access policy that prohibited sign-ins from Antarctica.  Using my tenant, I was able to create the policy and simulate one of my users attempting to sign in from an Antarctica IP address.  My southern employee was appropriately “left in the cold” (pun intended), and I was now confident in how to apply conditional access. 

After a few final skims of the outline (and a few days of assuring myself that failure was inevitable), the exam was a success!  Now for a much-needed break… 

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