Home Mastering the AZ-500 Exam - A Comprehensive Guide to the Azure Security Engineer Certification

Mastering the AZ-500 Exam - A Comprehensive Guide to the Azure Security Engineer Certification

Navigating the world of Azure certifications can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to the challenging AZ-500 Microsoft Azure Security Technologies exam. This comprehensive guide aims to demystify the process, providing you with a roadmap to success.

This blog post will provide you with a comprehensive guide to preparing for the AZ-500 Microsoft Azure Security Technologies exam.

Preparing for the Exam

Before diving into your study materials, it’s essential to understand the structure of the exam and the score needed to pass. You can find all this information on the AZ-500 Microsoft Azure Security Technologies Exam Page. The exam aims to assess your skills in the following domains:

  • Manage identity and access (25–30%)
  • Secure networking (20–25%)
  • Secure compute, storage, and databases (20–25%)
  • Manage security operations (25–30%)

Microsoft Learning Paths

The Certification Exam Page offers links to all the articles that constitute Microsoft’s Learning Path for the AZ-500 certification. This Learning Path contains 14 modules and can also be found on the Learning Path Dashboard.

Microsoft estimates that a single run-through of the Learning Path will take approximately 18 hours. Therefore, fully understanding all the Learning Paths will require a substantial time commitment.

Azure Documentation

Microsoft offers comprehensive Azure Documentation that provides an in-depth analysis of each Azure service. This resource not only delivers valuable guidance for service implementation and best practices, but it also includes educational tutorials and quick-start examples to assist you in getting started with the services of your interest.

Community-Provided Resources

In addition to the resources provided by Microsoft, the community also offers a wealth of valuable materials. If you prefer video content, John Savill’s Youtube Channel comes highly recommended. He offers a range of videos to aid in your preparation for various exams, as well as detailed discussions on numerous Azure-related topics.

While Google is a dependable source of information, Reddit can also prove to be extremely beneficial. For Azure DevOps and Azure certification topics, consider visiting the Azure Subreddit or the Azure Certification Subreddit. If you wish to delve into a specific topic, there’s likely a dedicated Subreddit for that as well.

Dive into Azure

No matter how extensively you study Azure, nothing can replace the value of practical, hands-on experience. There is so much theory and creating the necessary resources myself helped a lot to understand how they actually work. This is particularly true since the exam may include a lab where you will need to implement tasks in the Azure portal during the exam.

If your work does not provide an opportunity to interact with the services covered in the exam, consider creating a free Azure account and implementing your own projects.

Free Practice Assessment

Once you feel adequately prepared for the exam, it’s advisable to undertake the complimentary practice assessment provided on the Certification Exam Page. Alternatively, you can directly access the free practice assessment directly.

The assessment consists of 50 questions and may serve as a rigorous reality check. Typically, my initial scores seldom surpass 70% (more often in the 50%-60% range), despite having several years of experience with Azure and likely more exposure than the average examinee. Don’t be disheartened by a less-than-ideal result. The assessment is a tool designed to highlight the areas where you need to invest more time and to provide you with a glimpse of the exam’s question format. Moreover, Microsoft provides an explanation for each question, elucidating why the correct answer is superior to the other options.

Feel free to retake the assessment as many times as necessary until you gain confidence.


MeasureUp is the officially endorsed test platform by Microsoft. The AZ-500 practice exam on this platform features 139 test questions, mirroring the actual certification exam’s format with case studies, single-choice, multiple-choice, and drag-and-drop questions.

Compared to other resources mentioned here, the practice tests on MeasureUp are on the pricier side, with costs ranging from 99€ for 30-day access to 119€ for a one-year subscription or downloadable version. However, they often have sales reducing the price by 30-50%.

The website’s user experience may leave something to be desired. For instance, locating the correct place to take the practice exam can be a challenge, the website’s speed is often slow, and you may occasionally find yourself logged out while taking a practice test. However, once you start the practice test, the experience is smooth (provided you don’t get logged out). You even have the option to customize the test exam to include random questions, questions you previously answered incorrectly, or questions you haven’t seen in a while.

The difficulty level and format of the practice questions are on par with what you will encounter in the real exam, making it an excellent preparation tool.

While MeasureUp may be expensive, it’s worth the investment. I strongly recommend utilizing it before taking the exam.

Study Strategies

Study techniques differ from person to person. Some individuals gravitate towards video content, others prefer reading, and some find hands-on experience to be the most effective.

My recommendation is to explore all these methods and determine what works best for you. In my case, having prior experience with all the services covered in the exam and then diligently studying the Learning Path was enough to pass the exam. The MeasureUp practice exam and the free practical assessment were particularly beneficial in identifying areas that required more focus.

Acquiring sufficient hands-on experience is also vital. My previous experience greatly facilitated my understanding of the topics when I studied the documentation. I would advise creating most of the services covered in the exam, experimenting with them, and familiarizing yourself with all the panes of the service in the Azure portal.

Lastly, I strongly recommend investing in the MeasureUp practice exams. Not only are they worth the cost, but they also provide insight into the format of the exam questions. Achieving high scores in these practice tests can significantly enhance your confidence.

Taking the Exam

You have two options for taking the exam: at an official test center or from the comfort of your home. I have experienced both, and while I used to take exams at a test center, I now prefer online tests. Both methods administer the exact same exams, so choose the one that best suits your comfort level.

The exam duration is 100 minutes, but you should allocate approximately 140 minutes to account for the ID verification process and a few survey questions from Microsoft. This provides enough time to review your answers multiple times. In my experience, I was able to complete the questions in around 20 minutes and needed another 20 minutes for the case study.

The exam typically contains between 40 and 60 questions. I had 53 questions, 5 of which were a single case study. To pass, you need to score at least 700 out of 1000. It is important to note that Microsoft employs a dynamic scoring system, meaning that a score of 700 out of 1000 does not equate to 70%.

Upon completion of the exam, your score should be displayed on the screen immediately, if you did not have a lab in your exam. I passed the exam with a score of 818.

Azure Certified Security Engineer Badge

Azure Certified Security Engineer Badge

Taking the Exam at a Test Center

A few years ago, I opted for a test center to take an exam, and the experience was less than ideal. The process involved commuting to the location, ensuring punctuality, and carrying an official ID. Additionally, all personal items, including your wallet, phone, and watch, had to be stored in a locker before being led into a room filled with computers to take the exam. The test center I attended had a mouse from the 90s, which posed a significant challenge. The room was crowded with other test takers, contributing to a somewhat noisy environment.

However, there is nothing inherently wrong with taking the exam at a test center; it is simply a matter of personal preference.

Taking the Exam Online

Choosing to take the exam from home presents a more convenient alternative. This option requires a stable internet connection, a webcam, and a microphone. Please note that headphones are not permitted.

For me, the comfort of taking the exam from home is unparalleled. It eliminates the need for travel and allows you to use your own computer, mouse, keyboard, and chair, which you are already accustomed to. The check-in process begins 30 minutes before the scheduled exam time. You will receive a link on your phone, which you will use to take a picture of your ID and yourself, followed by four pictures of your surroundings. You will then be placed in a waiting queue. After a few minutes, a proctor will contact you, either via voice message or chat, and may ask you some questions, such as requesting a view of your desk. Once they initiate the exam, the official test begins.

Upon completion of the exam, your score and performance in each exam area will be immediately displayed if you did not have a lab in your exam. If you had one, you will receive an email soon after you finished the exam.

Difficulty of the Exam

In my experience, the AZ-500 exam is one of the hardest exams Azure has to offer. The reason why I find this exam hard is the vast range of services it covers and also how much it goes into the detail of these services. Additionally, you have to know a little bit about DevOps and more about networking, for example, what is the right load balancing solutions for a given problem or how to configure a subnet for an Azure Firewall. Therefore, I am very happy that I took the AZ-700: Designing and Implementing Microsoft Azure Networking Solutions certification before taking this one.

In general, the questions felt quite long with a lot of text to read before answering the question. I prepared more for this exam than for any other certification I have taken in the past. Additionally, I marked around 15 questions to review with Microsoft Learn after I finished. I took around 40 minutes to look up all the questions I marked and was able to find many of the answers I was looking for.

My exam was split between 45 “normal” questions, then 3 questions that belong to the same problem where I could not return to to previous questions and 9 questions for a case study. You can only start the case study after finishing the 48 questions and you are not allowed to go back to them once the case study is started. To be honest, I think the case studies at these exams suck. You get around 5 pages of configuration and requirements and then have to go through all these pages for each questions to find the right answer.

During the exam, it is crucial to read the questions carefully. A single word can sometimes alter the answer to a question. If you come across a question that leaves you stumped, take a moment to breathe and try to eliminate incorrect answers. Sometimes, one or two answers are blatantly wrong, leaving you with only two potential answers. If you are still unsure, make an educated guess. There’s no penalty for incorrect answers, so never leave a question unanswered!


In conclusion, the AZ-500 Microsoft Azure Security Technologies exam is one of the most challenging certifications I have undertaken on Azure so far and I am very pleased that I passed other certifications, such as the AZ-500 Networking Engineer exam before this one because some questions are reaching in the areas of these other certifications.

Leveraging resources such as Microsoft’s Learning Path, Azure Documentation, community-provided resources, and MeasureUp practice exams can significantly enhance your preparation.

Remember, the journey to certification is not just about passing the exam, but also about gaining a deep understanding of the various networking solutions Azure offers. With dedication, focus, and the right resources, you are well on your way to pass the exam. Good luck with your preparation!

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.

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