My learning path to becoming a Microsoft 365 Certified: Messaging Administrator Associate (MS-203)!



Dear Microsoft 365 Friends,


Something up front, this exam challenged me more than I ever thought it would. My first thoughts were, I know Exchange Server infrastructures and Microsoft 365 / Office 365 is also known to me. Can't be that difficult after all. But that was a completely wrong assumption! Well, the "devil" is in the details, as the saying goes.


Now to my preparations for the exam.


1. First of all, I looked at the Exam Topics to get a first impression of the scope of topics. These are really very extensive.


2. So that I can prepare for an exam I need a test environment (this is indispensable for me). The first choice for me is Azure. If you don't have access to Azure yet you can sign up for a free trial here:


In my test environment, I have installed/configured a domain controller (Windows Server 2019). A second server (Windows Server 2019) named EX01 with Exchange Server 2019 (Mailbox Server). You can also build everything in a local environment. You can find the installation media (ISO) here:


3. Next, I set up a Microsoft 365 test environment. You can sign up for a free trial here.


I chose the "Microsoft 365 Business Premium" plan for my testing. After doing step 2 and 3, I installed/configured the following:


- Set up a custom domain in Microsoft 365 (the custom domain is exactly the same as in on-premises Active Directory. This is one possible way, there are different variations).

- Installed Azure AD Connect on the DC (not ideal but absolutely fine for a test environment).

- Checked the synchronization of the accounts in Azure/Microsoft 365.


4. Now it goes to the Microsoft Learn content. These learn paths (as you can see below, all 3) I have worked through completely and "mapped"/reconfigured as much as possible in my test environment.


5. Register for the exam early. This creates some pressure and you stay motivated


6. Another source with information on various certifications


7. Further I can only recommend to read as many Microsoft Docs articles as possible. These have helped me extremely in preparing for the exam. Like for example:


As I mentioned, the success for me was in the details. Let me explain this with a small example:
There was a question in which it was mentioned that all users have an Office 365 E3 license. In the answer choices, "Conditional Access Policy" was present among others. Now here it comes, in Office 365 E3 there is no Azure AD Premium P1 included (which is needed for Conditional Access Policy), so "Conditional Access Policy" is certainly not a correct answer. See it's in the datils ;-)!


One final tip: When you have learned something new, try to explain what you have learned to another person (whether or not they know your subject). If you can explain it in your own words, you understand the subject. That is exactly how I do it, except that I do not explain it to another person, but record a video for YouTube!


I hope this information helps you and that you successfully pass the exam. I wish you success! Kind regards, Tom Wechsler

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