Making sense of the new AZ-305 exam: A Q&A with Microsoft MVP Dwayne Natwick

February 3 2022

Microsoft is poised to retire the AZ-303 and AZ-304 exams in March 2022. These two established exams will be replaced with a new exam, AZ-305. MSCloudNews spoke with Microsoft MVP and trainer Dwayne Natwick about what the change means for users, particularly those planning to get certified.

MSCN: What does the retirement of AZ-303 and AZ-304 mean for users? Why did Microsoft choose to retire these two exams?

Dwayne Natwick: Users were required to sit for and pass both the AZ-303 and AZ-304 exams to obtain their Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification.  Previously, there was no certification that was obtained once a user passed the AZ-303 exam.  This deviated from the Azure DevOps Expert path where the AZ-104 or AZ-204 Associate certifications were step one to an Expert certification and then the Expert certification was obtained after passing AZ-400.  

Additionally, the AZ-104, Azure Administrator Associate exam and AZ-303 exam have historically had a large amount of overlap.  When I taught an AZ-104 class and was asked about what exams to take next, I always recommended that [students] prepare for the AZ-303 next because of this overlap.  I have had multiple students sit for and pass the AZ-303 just a couple of weeks following their passing of the AZ-104.  Microsoft finally decided that maintaining these two exams was unnecessary. 

Microsoft has simplified and created consistency with the next certification path to Azure Solutions Architect Expert. The AZ-104 exam along with the new AZ-305 exam are now the path to obtaining the Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification.  For users that have already taken and passed the AZ-303 exam and don't yet have the AZ-104, this retired exam can still be used as the first step to this certification as well.

Overall, the path to the Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification is a much better representation of understanding Azure administration and Azure design.  The AZ-305 exam focuses solely on designing solutions within Azure.  

How should users prepare for the new AZ-305 exam?

About Eamon McCarthy Earls

As the assistant editor at and, Eamon helps to oversee editorial content on the site and supports site management and strategy. He can be reached at

Before joining, Eamon was editor for at TechTarget, where he covered networking technology, IoT, and cybersecurity. He is also the author of multiple books and previously contributed to publications such as the Boston Globe, Milford Daily News, and DefenceWeb.

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