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Completing a Coursera Specialization for Free

Coursera provides continuing education just like Udacity and offer the full learning experience that I am accustomed to, including lesson videos, reading materials, projects, discussion forums, and graded projects which are peer-reviewed. I recently completed the Full-stack Web Development in React specialization from Coursera, all for free. It’s called a specialization because it is made up of three courses below each with their own certifications and which takes 4-6 weeks each to complete: 1. Front-End Web UI Frameworks and Tools: Bootstrap 4 2. Front-End Web Development with React 3. Server-side Development with NodeJS, Express and MongoDB I started the program in December 2021 and finished it in June 2023 however. The intent of this post is to explain how I was able to fund the entire specialization for free. In December 2021, I read on social media that Coursera allowed for one free course per year if you were a student and had an email address from a partner school. I gave my stu

How I passed the AZ-104 Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate Exam

I had been planning to take the Microsoft Certified Solutions Architect track back when the prerequisite was AZ-303 and AZ-304. Life got in the way and now these two prerequisites have been deprecated and replaced by AZ-305. However, in order to take this exam, I needed to get through AZ-104 first. Here are resources that I used to prepare for it:

* GlobalKnowledge/Skillsoft 4-day BootCamp. I have been using this training company for a while now but it has steadily just gotten worse. The trainers are outsourced and not very professional in my opinion. I do not recommend GlobalKnowledge at all. I didn’t really learn much from the lesson material but the lesson/challenge labs were very helpful. This bootcamp comes with an Azurepass subscription and a free exam voucher. I actually racked up to $90 out of the $100 credit provided on this subscription which expires in 12 days so I better delete all the resources before then to avoid incurring more. I initially booked the exam the end of December 2022 but I missed it because of the confusing exam time. I booked it for Thursday 12:00am but was actually Wednesday midnight so I missed it by 24 hours. I contacted the training company and they said they would contact my account representative as getting another exam voucher would incur cost to them. I contacted Pearson VUE instead and they apologized for the mixup and returned my exam voucher for reuse. It was actually a blessing in disguise as I would have failed the exam if I took it then. It gave me time to enjoy the New Year with my family and this mishap allowed me to complete more challenge labs. It worked out in the end.

* John Savill’s AZ-104 videos on Youtube. I went to Reddit to find a channel to ask test takers some tips on passing. I found some students on r/AzureCertification praising John Savill’s exam cram tutorials on YouTube so I went to take a look. This guy was so easy to understand even at 1.5x playback speed and was nothing compared to my trainer with GlobalKnowledge. I didn’t even go back to the recorded videos with my trainer as it was so difficult to listen to. John’s whiteboarding was great and he even provided the whiteboarding in one jpeg image. This overall picture was a great point of reference in my cramming.

* WhizLabs AZ-104 practice exams. This is my goto for practice exams. Not only are they cheap at US$8 for over 200+ questions but also more accurate than the Udemy practice exams which were very poor in quality and could even do you damage if you rely on their incorrect answers. They had an active slack channel at one point but not now.

* MeasureUp practice exams as part of ESI program. I was able to use my university edu email address to qualify for the Enterprise Skills Initiative (ESI) program which allows you to go through Microsoft Learn and use the practice tests for AZ-104. This gave me another 200+ questions of practice and actual timed test.

* Pluralsight/CyberVista practice exams. I have a subscription here and was initially using this platform to study for AZ-303 and AZ-304. It was very dry or make progress here and had to go through a bootcamp to actually make some decent progress. I found out that Pluralsight partnered with CyberVista for the AZ-104 practice simulations so that gave me another 200+ questions.

Before taking the exam, I must have gone through about 700+ practice exam questions and 7 days of studying those. At the exam, I thought I did poorly because of the case study questions. However, I believe I made up for it by doing well on the standard multiple choice questions because I had enough time to re-review all the questions at the end.

Here is my shiny new certificate

The exam was through Pearson VUE which was a much better experience than with PSI when I took my AWS exam, more info here To checkin with Pearson VUE, I just sent in 4 still photos of my test area from multiple vantage points instead of doing the webcam walk through. The experience was pleasant this time around. 


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