You are starting your journey with Microsoft role-based certifications. The SC-400 exam is based on Information protection administration. Within this chapter, we will provide direction on getting equipped for the Microsoft exam, as well as outlining resources that can aid you in your learning strategy. We will provide useful links and explain how you can obtain access to Microsoft 365 subscriptions on a trial basis, which will allow you to gain hands-on experience. This chapter will give you the understanding and knowledge you need to prepare for the exam and become an information protection administrator.
In this chapter, we're going to cover the following main topics:
- Preparing for a Microsoft exam
- Accessing resources and Microsoft Learn
- Creating a Microsoft 365 trial account
- Introducing the SC-400 exam objectives
- Why should I take this exam?
To allow you to follow and complete the exercises within the book, you will need to have access to a Microsoft 365 tenant. This can be attained by signing up for a trial subscription. Additionally, Microsoft Purview Information Protection services will require one of the following licenses:
- Enterprise Mobility + Security E5/A5
- Microsoft 365 E5/A5
Preparing for a Microsoft exam
There are several parts of the process to prepare for a Microsoft exam, including the resources you use to prepare for the exam, being able to access a subscription for hands-on labs, and the method by which you are going to physically take the exam. Understanding the format of Microsoft exams is vitally important, especially if this is your first exam.
Accessing resources to prepare for the exam
You can find multiple resources to help you prepare for Microsoft exams. These include online video content from learning companies, live tutorials from Microsoft Learning Partners, content from members of the wider community, and Microsoft blog articles. All the resources mentioned are helpful. However, the video content from learning companies and live courses are not free and this may not be within your learning budget. Microsoft blog articles and community-based content can provide you with a route you can follow for each topic, but do not go into enough detail to fully cover the scope of the certification.
Microsoft provides one of the best resources that are available. You can find documentation on all services within Microsoft Docs, which will enable you to search for and find the information you need to help you better prepare. The information is all public and free, with Microsoft Docs being very closely knit to the Microsoft Learn content.
You can access and search Microsoft Docs by going to the following link in an internet browser: https://docs.microsoft.com.
How to access a Microsoft 365 subscription
Having hands-on experience with the services within the objectives as part of your preparation for a Microsoft certification is highly recommended. Microsoft courses have GitHub repositories for labs that are publicly available and free.
Guides for the labs can be found at the following link: https://www.microsoft.com/learning.
One of the key elements of the exam preparation process is physically going to take your exam. Traditionally, there has only ever been the option to take the exams at a proctored exam site, which some people may still prefer as it is a controlled environment. Ensuring you understand the setup of the location where you are taking the exam can be helpful, minimizing the level of stress and allowing you to focus on the actual exam.
In more recent times, roughly when role-based exams were made available, Microsoft provided the option of taking online proctored exams. These allow the individual to take the exam from home or a work office location, rather than going to an already authorized exam site. Some people may prefer this option as it allows you to utilize your own equipment and environment. Please note that the online-proctored option is not available in all regions; however, if it is available in your region, you will see something similar to the following:
Preparing for the online-proctored exam is very different from preparing for a local test center exam. In relation to physical equipment, you must have a device with speakers, a microphone, and a webcam. You are only permitted to use a single monitor, so be sure to have a high resolution to avoid any issues with visibility in the exam. Testing the equipment in advance of taking the exam is highly recommended as this will allow you to avoid any delays on exam day. You must ensure the environment in which you are taking the exam is clear of any papers, books, pens, and pencils. It must also be an area that is quiet and isolated so no one can enter while you are taking the exam. Before starting the exam, you will be asked to provide photos of the surrounding area to both the left and right side, as well as the front and back of where you are sat. Valid photo identification (such as a passport or driving license) is required as well. You must remain within the view of the camera for the duration of the exam.
Microsoft exam format
All Microsoft exams are usually made up of four to six question types. There are multiple-choice questions, drag and drop, true/false, dropdowns, best answer scenarios, and case studies. The following is additional detail on question types:
- Multiple-Choice questions are simple. A question may have more than one answer. The exam questions are transparent about how many correct answers you need to choose for each question, and you will be alerted if you choose the incorrect number of choices.
- Drag-and-Drop questions are typically based on actions of a process to test your understanding of the order of operations to configure a service. There are more potential answers given than you need, and you are required to move the steps that are appropriate to the question over to the right-hand side in the correct sequence.
- True/False questions are slightly different than traditional questions. You are usually provided with some screenshots are an exhibit from within the relevant Microsoft portals that show you what has been configured. You will then find three to four statements based on whether the statements are correct based on the information provided.
- Drop-down questions are typically the ones with PowerShell or Azure CLI code in them. You are asked to achieve certain steps within a string of code where the blank sections provide the drop-down selections to choose from.
- Best-answer scenario questions are used to test for a genuine understanding of a subject area. You will receive a warning when you get to this section that you will be unable to navigate back on these questions. The question will provide a specific scenario that needs to be solved, along with a potential solution. You will be required to establish whether the solution is the best one to solve the scenario. You can select yes or no, after which you will get the same scenario but with a different possible solution, to which you must again select yes or no.
- Case study questions give a pretend company setting with an existing environment, future environment, and business and technical requirements. You will then be asked multiple (five to seven) questions that cover multiple objective areas of the exam you are sitting. You will find one to three of the case study questions on the associate level exam.
The various question types test your level of understanding in different ways, and all go into the weighted exam goals that will be discussed later in this chapter.
So far, we have covered the exam question types as well as the different locations where you can sit the exam. In the following sections, we will cover the various resources that will aid you in the process of learning the exam topics covered within the SC-400 exam and how you can gain access to the solutions, which will enable you to follow along with the exercises in this specific guide.
Accessing resources and Microsoft Learn
We referred to some of the resources available to you when preparing for the exam earlier in this chapter. Microsoft Learn was one of those, along with Microsoft Docs, but due to the amount of information, we have dedicated a whole section to this due to the amount of free content that it provides to aid you in preparing for the exam.
Accessing Microsoft Learn
Microsoft Learn is a good resource to get your learning path started. One of the major benefits of this content is the fact that it is free. When you create a Microsoft account, you are able to track your progress and you can acquire badges along your journey. Microsoft also creates learning challenges intermittently, with prizes such as free exam vouchers. You can create a free account by selecting the button at the top right of the page and then selecting Sign in, as shown in the following screenshot:
To access Microsoft Learn content, you can use the following link: https://www.microsoft.com/learn.
Relevant content can be found on Microsoft Learn in many ways. You can search for specific roles, products, or certification codes. You can find these options on the selection ribbon at the top of the Learn page as shown in Figure 1.4. You can also find several recommendations to start your learning on the same page:
After you have chosen the subject that you want to learn about, you can then search a specific topic of that subject and filter even further on particular topics or individual courses, and even learning paths, as shown in the following screenshot:
In this section, we took a look at the information needed to access the Microsoft Learn content library and how to browse for learning modules and learning paths. In the next section, we will guide you through finding content that is particular to the SC-400 exam.
Microsoft exam information pages
An additional common area within the Microsoft Learn site is the exam pages. There is an exam page for every Microsoft exam and a certification page. These pages deliver an overview of the exam certification, the objectives of the exam, the roles of individuals that may be interested in the exam, scheduling the exam, and the learning path to prepare for the exam. These pages are very helpful when you are planning for a specific exam, rather than just gaining general tech knowledge. The following screenshot shows an SC-400 exam search:
It is recommended that you use this exam page for reference when preparing for the SC-400 certification. At this stage of the chapter, you should have access to Microsoft Learn to log in and browse for content. In the following section, we will provide advice on creating a trial subscription to Microsoft 365 services.
Creating a Microsoft 365 trial account
For those people who are new to Microsoft cloud services such as Azure and Microsoft 365, it is important to get hands-on experience, not only for the exam you are taking but also for professional development. You must understand the admin portals and how they work if you are looking to get certified. In this book, we will provide exercises that will get you familiar with how to work within the Microsoft 365 and Azure portals and how to navigate when in them. In order to follow along with the steps, we recommend you get a subscription to both Microsoft 365 and Azure Active Directory Premium P2. We will detail the steps required to obtain a 30-day trial in the next section.
Microsoft 365 or Office 365 trial subscription
The features and abilities discussed within the SC-400 exam objectives need a Microsoft 365 enterprise-level license, which E3 and E5 licenses are classed as. Microsoft offers a 30-day trial license for both. Therefore, as you prepare for the exam, you can create these subscriptions and follow the exercises.
You can navigate to the following link to get started, and select Try for free, as shown in Figure 1.9 under the Office 365 E5 plan: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/enterprise/compare-office-365-plans:
Once you have completed the process and created the Microsoft 365 tenant, you will have access to the full Microsoft 365 suite of services as well as all the different admin panels. In the next section, we will walk you through the process of setting up an additional service that will be required to follow along with the exercises within this book and complete the hands-on labs to prepare you for the exam.
Obtaining the relevant license
You will need an Azure Information Protection (AIP) Premium P2 license for the advanced information protection features that are discussed within the SC-400 exam objectives. The best way to get these features is by obtaining an Enterprise Mobility + Security E5 license. As with most Microsoft 365 licenses, you can also get a 30-day trial of this. Let's perform the following steps:
- Navigate to the following link: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/enterprise-mobility-security/compare-plans-and-pricing.
- Once you have navigated to this web page, select Try now under the Enterprise Mobility + Security E5 plan, as shown in the following screenshot:
Please note that this is an add-on license to Microsoft 365, so you should enter the details of your email address that you used to sign up for the Office 365 subscription earlier in this chapter, as shown in the following screenshot:
The topics you have learned about so far in this chapter have enabled you to understand the different types of questions you can expect in all Microsoft's role-based certification exams, where you can find free study resources, and finally, how to obtain a free trial of the relevant Microsoft subscription and add-on license to allow you to follow the hands-on lab assignments within this book.
Introducing the SC-400 exam objectives
In this book, we will cover the exam objectives for the SC-400 Information Protection Administration exam. The objectives of the exam are closely followed within the structure of this book. Each exam objective is weighted differently. The weight of the objective is used as a compass for understanding the knowledge required for that section as well as a guide to understanding the potential number of questions you can expect in the exam for the specific topic. The following table shows the objectives covered within the SC-400 exam:
You can find further details on the topics that are covered in the SC-400 exam objectives at the following link: https://query.prod.cms.rt.microsoft.com/cms/api/am/binary/RE4Mr80.
The weight percentage does not mean that if an objective is at 10%, then you will only get 6 questions out of 60 on this area. Microsoft exams use a scoring scale of 1000 based on the type of question and the objectives covered in that question. The weights of the objectives will aid you in understanding the standing that is placed on the specific objective.
The next section will provide information on, and insight into, the types of roles that this exam highlights and how the SC-400 exam can assist you in your professional development.
Why should I take this exam?
The SC-400 exam is the Microsoft Purview Information Protection associate level exam, so the focus is on the areas of protecting information stored in the cloud, protecting data from being lost, and record management to ensure information governance is protected. You should take this exam if you have goals and aspirations to work with Microsoft Cloud technologies, and the exam should prepare you for the role of security administrator, specifically, protecting information in the Microsoft cloud.
Within this chapter, we covered all the areas that will help prepare you for the Information Protection Administration exam, which included how to prepare for your exam, accessing resources and Microsoft Learn, creating a Microsoft 365 trial account, introducing exam objectives, and a quick overview of why you should take this exam.
These key topics have given you the understanding and knowledge you need to use Microsoft's free learning resources and create a trial subscription, which will allow you to complete the hands-on labs throughout this book. Additionally, you have learned about the types of exam questions you will find within all of Microsoft's role-based certifications.
The next chapter will introduce the information protection topic and how it has progressed.