How to pass Microsoft Exam 70-487 (Developing Microsoft Azure and Web Services) in 30 days

Before you continue reading this blog post, you need to be aware of the following; This is not a “quick fix” or an “easy solution”.  I have not discovered some secret formula to guarantee you pass with 100% marks every time.  The exam is genuinely challenging and the only way you are going to pass is by working hard!  You will not find any brain dumps here!  If you’re afraid of working hard to achieve your goals, you best leave now …

Still Here? Congratulations, you are taking your first steps towards passing the Microsoft exam 70-487.  The purpose of this post is to link to all the resources that I used when revising for the exam myself. So why 30 days? Well its important to set yourself a target.  Setting yourself a target motivates you.  If you are paying for this exam yourself (like I did), you’ll really want to make sure you give the exam your best shot (after all, £99 is a hefty amount of money!)

Know the exam objectives

Probably the most important thing you should do before starting studying for any exam is to find out what the exam objectives are.  Basically the exam objectives tell you what to study for! There is not much point in learning material that is of no relevance! You can find the exam objectives under the “Skills Measured” section on the official 70-487 exam page.

Books

Books aren’t for everybody, some people find it hard to sit down and read a book … I get that, but you should at least try. Have a look at Exam Ref 70-487: Developing Windows Azure and Web Services. AzureWebServicesBook This book was written by William Ryan, Wouter de Kort, and Shane Milton.  Its no secret that I am generally not a fan of these books.  I generally find that they’re not particularly well written, boring, the examples arbitrary…but not this book.  I found this book to be a breath of fresh air and actually pleasurable and enjoyable to read.

Each objective on the exam receives equal coverage with helpful realistic exams.  The book is not chatty (which I like) but is in no way robotic (like some Microsoft books I have read in the past).  There are some good insights into the various technologies at a high level, and the authors are clearly very experienced in this field.

You may also want to scrub up on your Entity Framework as well, as this is mentioned in the exam objectives several times.  Probably one of the best Entity Framework books I have ever read was written by Julie Lerman, named Programming Entity Framework.  If you want to become a top Entity Framework developer, I highly recommend that you check it out.  There are also lots of Entity Framework posts on my blog.

Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) JumpStart

Microsoft has provided some great FREE training videos on the Microsoft Virtual Academy website, so its only polite that you fully exploit these resources. You will want to start with the Windows Azure Web Sites – Deep Dive Jump Start video series.  Just a note, you will need a free Microsoft account to access the videos.

Microsoft (Windows) Azure Deep Dive

Back in January, Microsoft put on an event in celebration of the awesomeness that is Microsoft (then called Windows) Azure.  This was 5 full days of Microsoft Azure training videos, hosted by the likes of Scott Gu and Scott Hanselman (et al).  I highly recommend that you check it out, but don’t spend too much time watching the videos targeted at DevOps or IT support people.  Just focus on the developer videos.

Pluralsight Training Videos

Pluralsight is a subscription (paid for) site offering training material for developers (and now IT professionals as well) at all levels, and in all stages of their careers.  If you don’t already have a subscription (??) you can get a free 10 day trial (up to 200 minutes) to give you a taste.  The subscription starts at a mere $29 (£17.08 ish) a month. Here are some of the videos I watched whilst preparing for this exam; (Make sure you follow along whilst the presenter is talking!)

My Honest Opinion

Brace yourselves, the truth is coming.  Don’t waste spend too much time studying Microsoft Azure.  But wait, isn’t this a Microsoft Azure exam? Well yes it is, but the questions I was asked about Microsoft Azure were pretty straightforward, and any competent developer could have used their powers of deduction to figure out the answers.  Instead, you should focus more of your efforts on getting hands on with WCF.  I wrote a few blog posts about various WCF topics, I recommend you check them out.

Summary

It is possible to pass Microsoft exams in 30 days, assuming you have some background knowledge in the subject and are prepared to work (very!) hard.  Microsoft make a lot of training resources available to you for free, and there are online training providers that can help you out as well (for a small fee).  There is no “one size fits all” or “silver bullet”, so you’ll want to try a range of resources to find what works best for you.  Don’t resort to cheating or you will be caught and banned for life! In case anybody is wondering, I passed the exam with a score of 93% in April 2014. If you found this article useful, please leave comments below!