The MS-102 Microsoft 365 Administrator exam is an expert-level exam in the Microsoft domain that is highly focused on the Security aspect of Microsoft 365 services and enables you to achieve the Microsoft 365 Certified: Administrator Expert certification. However, the exam outline covers many essential topics that you are expected to know in your day-to-day life regardless of everything.
In this article, you will find the resources and recommendations if you are preparing for the Microsoft 365 Administrator exam soon. This post is super long, so use the Table of Content to find the appropriate section you are interested in and bookmark it for later use. The study guide also includes the content in the Beta version since the MS-101 and MS-100 phase out on July 31, 2023, and is replaced by one MS-102 exam to achieve the Administrator Expert certification.
Check out the Study Guides for other exams that might be of interest to you.
Microsoft 365 Administrator (MS-102) is an associate-level exam that validates the skills and expertise of subject matter experts working with workload management, security, infrastructure, identity, compliance, endpoint, and applications in Microsoft 365 workloads.
The exam aims to validate that you understand how to implement and administer the cloud and hybrid environments using Microsoft 365 tools. It also tests your skills in networking, server administration, DNS, and usage of PowerShell while managing the M365 workloads.
Although, right now only one exam is required to achieve the Microsoft 365 Administrator Expert certification unlike before where you’d have to do two exams MS-100 and MS-101. I completed my exam in the Beta phase, however, the experience will be the same when the exam is released to the general audience in May 2023.
If you are planning to attempt the Microsoft 365 Administrator Expert exam, be sure to complete one of the following exams beforehand, as it will give you enough exposure to Microsoft 365 services and offerings:
- Microsoft 365 Certified: Modern Desktop Administrator Associate
- Microsoft 365 Certified: Messaging Administrator Associate
- Microsoft 365 Certified: Teams Administrator Associate
- Microsoft Certified: Identity and Access Administrator Associate
It's good to know the following concepts before going into the exam:
- Basic understanding of TCP/IP, DNS, Firewall, and Routing
- Familiar with PowerShell and Microsoft365 management commands
- Understanding security and infrastructure components of Microsoft 365 services
Who is this MS-102 Exam for?
On a high-level note, take the exam:
- If you are looking to learn more about Networking, Infrastructure, and Security in Azure cloud services.
- If you are working on M365 Administration, App development and looking for a chance to grow and learn more about Microsoft 365 services.
- If you are looking to build your network skills and learn to use multiple networking services in the cloud effectively.
What to Expect in the Exam?
The Microsoft 365 Administrator Exam is 150 minutes, including about 30 minutes for the surveys and the assessments, which gives you roughly 120 minutes for the exam. I did find it a little challenging to finish the exam within the time frame. You can expect around 50-60 questions in the exam.
One of the most interesting features I've seen in the recent Microsoft Exam is the "Break" feature. You can now take breaks during the exam if you need to pause for any moment. However, the exam counter does not stop, and when you return back from the break, you cannot attempt the questions you've already seen before going to the break. So keep that in mind before taking the break. I'd recommend not looking at all the questions in one go just in case you do decide to take a break later in the exam.
The structure of the exam can vary and range between:
- Case study with multiple questions including two choices and drag-and-drop items.
- Single-choice questions may not be skipped or reviewed. You only get to answer these questions ONCE.
- Single-choice questions (True/False or Yes/No)
- Multiple-choice questions
Since it's an expert-level exam, it is relatively challenging as it covers many different topics and best practices. Therefore, I recommend you have at least 1-2 years of hands-on experience with Microsoft 365 Administration and Management in general before you consider booking the exam.
Exam Preparation Recommendations
There's definitely a lot to cover in this exam, and giving you any list of services or things to learn would be unfair as the expectations for this exam are high. However, below are some topics to consider and focus attention on while preparing for the exam.
- Understanding various license types for M365 services
- Managing M365 and Azure AD users and groups along with roles and access
- Understanding guest access and how it works with M365 services
- Configuring and managing a Hybrid AD environment with AD Connect
- Implementing various authentication methods for a tenant in Cloud and Hybrid mode
- Familiarity with Microsoft 365 Defender service and understanding it’s functionality
- Managing Microsoft Purview and implementing compliance functionality for a tenant
Exam Day Tips
Below are some of my recommendations on the exam and some tips that might be helpful.
- Cover basic knowledge using MD-102 and SC-300 exams to familiarize yourself with the Microsoft 365 offerings.
- Book the exam at least 60-90 days ahead of time. Try to use the vouchers from a learning partner, or keep an eye for open Cloud Skill Challenges that are often offered via Microsoft.
- If it's your first time doing a Virtual Exam, be sure to read PearsonVUE's exam information to ensure your desk and workspace are clean before going into the exam.
- The time for when to schedule the exam is debatable. If you are a morning person, consider doing it early when your mind is not distracted from the day's stuff. On the other hand, I've had challenges with wait time and schedule in the evenings or afternoon PST time zones.
- You have access to a whiteboard where you can brainstorm ideas about the exams. It has been the least used feature of the exam for me personally.
- Adjust the brightness of your screen or turn on Dark Mode before the exam starts. Constantly looking at a white screen with high brightness may affect your focus. Consider changing to dark mode from around the bottom left when you begin.
- Use the Exam Outline to note down your target dates for each module and section so that you keep yourself on track. For example, I usually pick a final date and work backward to calculate how much time I spend on each module and section.
Microsoft Learn Modules
Microsoft Learn offers a wide range of training and preparation material for most of the Azure exams. Below is a list of relevant modules to prepare for this exam:
- Configure your Microsoft 365 Tenant
- Manage your Microsoft 365 tenant
- Implement identity synchronization
- Explore security metrics in Microsoft 365 Defender
- Manage your security services in Microsoft 365 Defender
- Implement threat protection by using Microsoft 365 Defender
- Explore data governance in Microsoft 365
- Implement compliance in Microsoft 365
- Manage compliance in Microsoft 365
Cloud Academy MS-102 Learning Path
The MS-102 learning path is released at Cloud Academy. However, here are some links to the Microsoft 365 Administrator learning path and hands-on lab that will help you with some of the preparation:
WhizLabs Exam Prep
If you are looking for exam prep questions for Azure Network Engineer exam, use the following to get free exam practice questions:Whizlabs MS-101 ExamWhizlabs MS-102 Exam
Visual Studio Dev Essentials
Signup for Visual Studio Dev Essentials. You get Free Azure Credit to use the cloud resources and access training platforms like LinkedIn Learning and Pluralsight with one month of access.
30 Days to Learn It
Microsoft offers a 50% discount on exam prices if you complete one of the listed MS Learn modules in 30 days.
Exam Outline: Microsoft Learn + Docs Reference Links
I've gathered some of the reference URLs to articles on the internet that will help you cover most of the exam objectives. The headings link to Microsoft Learn modules, and the individual items in each category point to relevant reading articles or MS Learn courses.
Be sure to print and have the exam outline with you while you are preparing for the exam. If you don't have the Exam Outline handle, download it here.
Deploy and manage a Microsoft 365 tenant (25–30%)
Implement and manage a Microsoft 365 tenant
- Create a tenant
- Implement and manage domains
- Configure organizational settings, including security, privacy, and profile
- Identify and respond to service health issues
- Configure notifications in service health
- Monitor adoption and usage
Manage users and groups
- Create and manage users
- Create and manage guest users
- Create and manage contacts
- Create and manage groups, including Microsoft 365 groups
- Manage and monitor Microsoft 365 license allocations
- Perform bulk user management, including PowerShell
Manage roles in Microsoft 365
- Manage roles in Microsoft 365 and Azure AD
- Manage role groups for Microsoft Defender, Microsoft Purview, and Microsoft 365 workloads
- Manage delegation by using administrative units
- Implement privileged identity management for Azure AD roles
Implement and manage identity and access in Azure AD (25–30%)
Implement and manage identity synchronization with Azure AD
- Prepare for identity synchronization by using IdFix
- Implement and manage directory synchronization by using Azure AD Connect cloud sync
- Implement and manage directory synchronization by using Azure AD Connect
- Monitor synchronization by using Azure AD Connect Health
- Troubleshoot synchronization, including Azure AD Connect and Azure AD Connect cloud sync
Implement and manage authentication
- Implement and manage authentication methods, including Windows Hello for Business, passwordless, tokens, and the Microsoft Authenticator app
- Implement and manage self-service password reset (SSPR)
- Implement and manage Azure AD Password Protection
- Implement and manage multi-factor authentication (MFA)
- Investigate and resolve authentication issues
Implement and manage secure access
- Plan for identity protection
- Implement and manage Azure AD Identity Protection
- Plan Conditional Access policies
- Implement and manage Conditional Access policies
Manage security and threats by using Microsoft 365 Defender (25–30%)
Manage security reports and alerts by using the Microsoft 365 Defender portal
- Review and take actions to improve the Microsoft Secure Score in the Microsoft 365 Defender portal
- Review and respond to security incidents and alerts in Microsoft 365 Defender
- Review and respond to issues identified in security and compliance reports in Microsoft 365 Defender
- Review and respond to threats identified in threat analytics
Implement and manage email and collaboration protection by using Microsoft Defender for Office 365
- Implement policies and rules in Defender for Office 365
- Review and respond to threats identified in Defender for Office 365, including threats and investigations
- Create and run campaigns, such as attack simulation
- Unblock users
Implement and manage endpoint protection by using Microsoft Defender for Endpoint
- Onboard devices to Defender for Endpoint
- Configure Defender for Endpoint settings
- Review and respond to endpoint vulnerabilities
- Review and respond to risks identified in the Microsoft Defender Vulnerability Management dashboard
Manage compliance by using Microsoft Purview (15–20%)
Implement Microsoft Purview information protection and data lifecycle management
- Implement and manage sensitive info types by using keywords, keyword lists, or regular expressions
- Implement retention labels, retention label policies, and retention policies
- Implement sensitivity labels and sensitivity label policies
Implement Microsoft Purview data loss prevention (DLP)
- Implement DLP for workloads
- Implement Endpoint DLP
- Review and respond to DLP alerts, events, and reports
I hope this article helps you get through the learning part of the MS-102 and cover all the necessary topics that you need to know before you go into the exam hall. Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter or LinkedIn for any questions.
If you are looking for exam review on any other exam, check out the list below as I update it with the latest content: