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How To Pass the Microsoft PL-300 Exam

Introduction

The PL-300 exam is titled Microsoft Power BI Data Analyst. It is one of the many exams within the umbrella of Microsoft certification paths. Passing the exam is the only requirement to become a Microsoft Certified: Data Analyst Associate. Currently, it is the only Power BI-specific exam and certification path offered by Microsoft. Microsoft moved to role-based certifications and retired the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA), Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD), and Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) certifications. This exam has replaced the DA-100 exam. It offers the same certification, but is branded under the Power Platform instead of Data Analytics. If you have previously passed the DA-100 exam, you still have the same certification as those who pass the PL-300 exam.

Who is it for?

The PL-300 exam is intended for Power BI subject matter experts that are capable of modeling, transforming, and visualizing data within the tool. Additionally, candidates need to transform business requirements into actions and recommendations through various case studies. If you are new to Power BI, a lot of hands-on practice is required to pass this exam. Experience in all areas of the tool and the ability to discern which deployment methods may be best for a given situation are also necessary. The exam does a good job in bridging the gap between a skilled Power BI user and an individual who can create and manage content in the best way for their organization.

Why take it?

Becoming a Microsoft Certified: Data Analyst Associate has more benefits than just a bullet point on a resume. Passing the exam requires technical knowledge as well as knowing how to best utilize the Power BI environment for a given situation. These skills can turn report builders into architects of enterprise-wide data solutions. This certification would greatly benefit anyone looking to begin a career or transition to a new role in data analytics using Power BI. It can also be a great way to display your personal career growth to managers or showcase skills to clients. This certification demonstrates that you can be trusted to build, deploy, and manage a business intelligence solution for an organization.

How is it structured?

The exam gives you 180 minutes to complete around 60 questions. The question formats are multiple choice and multi-select. There are case studies that ask multiple questions about a single, detailed set of business requirements. These contain a lot of information and involve a bit of critical thinking. The bulk of the exam consists of standalone questions. Overall, any feature that has been released as Generally Available for Power BI, both in the desktop and Power BI Service, may be included. The most important detail about the structure of the exam is that there is enough time allotted not to feel rushed. While some questions can be answered quickly, others require a bit of thought. When taking long exams, stress can be a driving factor in how people select responses. It is important to slowly read the questions in order to not miss key details of questions along the way. Only a minimal amount of experience of DAX and Power Query is required; you just need to be familiar with some basic functions and where to place them in a query.

Subject Area Percentage of Exam
Prepare the Data 15-20%
Model the Data 30-35%
Visualize and Analyze the Data 25-30%
Deploy and Maintain Assets 20-25%

How should you prepare?

Even though the PL-300 exam was recently released, there are paid courses and practice exams tailored directly to passing that are excellent resources. However, my primary recommendation is to prioritize being very familiar with using Power BI. I say that because the questions are tailored to experienced users and it is much easier to recall how you did something than remember what you read about it. This exam reinforces that concept with specific questions about what certain actions are called or how to perform them. I recommend first checking out the free learning paths offered by Microsoft for each of the 5 content areas covered in the exam, located here. From there, you can determine which of the content areas are the most challenging and direct efforts to those. If you do not have a lot of experience in Power BI, fear not – there is an excellent community of Power BI content creators that also provide many free resources. There is a growing library of excellent YouTube channels dedicated to showing the latest Power BI tips and tricks. Just like the SQL Server community, the Power BI community has a strong presence on Twitter and many Power BI developers, Microsoft MVPs, and even Microsoft employees answer questions and post blogs on all things Power BI. If you are not cramming for the exam, you may consider joining a local Power BI user group. Microsoft has recently moved user groups to its own site located at community.powerbi.com that were previously managed by a third party.

Wrap Up

By passing the exam, you have demonstrated that you know how to develop reports, effectively write DAX and Power Query code, manage the Power BI web environment, and apply analytical techniques within Power BI to deploy a comprehensive data solution for an organization. Anyone with this certification can reliably fill a data analyst role using Power BI. If you are looking to prove your talents or take on a new challenge in your career, becoming a Microsoft Certified: Data Analyst Associate is a great step in that direction.

 

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Brian Knox
Brian KnoxCore Contributor
Business Analyst

Brian Knox has passed the DA-100: Analyzing Data with Microsoft Power BI exam and has been a Power BI developer, administrator, and instructor for over four years. He is a founder and leader of the Hampton Roads Power BI User Group. Brian applies his analytics knowledge as a business analyst at Marathon Consulting. He is a graduate from the College of William and Mary, having completed the inaugural class of the Master of Science in Business Analytics program. He has an undergraduate degree in Information Science from Christopher Newport University. Brian learned early on that he wanted to combine his passions of business and technology. Brian loves all things data and is always looking for ways to share his data science knowledge to help others throughout Hampton Roads.

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