Dec 14, 2021


Business Intelligence Skills

PL-300 Exam Tips from Certified Experts

10 min read

Dec 14, 2021


Business Intelligence Skills

PL-300 Exam Tips from Certified Experts

10 min read

Dec 14, 2021


Business Intelligence Skills

PL-300 Exam Tips from Certified Experts

10 min read

Currently Reading

PL-300 Exam Tips from Certified Experts

You’ve decided that you finally want to publicly announce to the world that you’ve got some serious Power BI skills and have just signed up to take the PL-300 certification exam (formerly DA-100).

Are you feeling prepared? Are you second guessing yourself? Do you wish you could phone a friend or talk to someone who’s already passed?

Well, you’re in luck!

In this article, we’ll meet just a handful of the 75+ Maven students who have successfully studied for and passed the PL-300 this year. They’ve all brought some of their top tips for success to share with you.

But before we meet these students, I want to share my tips for success - they’re simple and straightforward:

  • Learn by doing: Use Power BI every day

    • Nothing beats on-the-job experience and hands-on practice with Power BI, so use it often!

  • Use your resources: Study how you learn best

    • Leverage resources available to you, including the official practice test & Microsoft Learn

  • Remember the rules of the exam: Don’t fail on a technicality

    • Be sure to follow all rules based on your exam setting. Remember your ID, no talking, clean desktop environment, no phones, etc.)

  • Skip questions if you get stuck

    • When allowed, move on from questions that you’re stuck on to more familiar ones. You can always mark the tougher questions and return to them later

But here’s the thing, while these tips for success are pretty universal, this is how I distilled what helped me prepare for the exam. Let’s think about that for a moment. While the exam experience is similar for everyone, your reason, your rationale, your why, for taking the exam is different from mine. For example, one of my biggest reasons wasn’t just studying to pass the exam, I was also preparing the curriculum for an entire exam prep course!

With this in mind, some of the most valuable advice often comes from other students that decided to pursue Microsoft’s Analyzing Data with Power BI certification and earned it. I can’t think of a better way to receive advice than to hear it directly from some of those students.

Let’s dig in!

Julian Wait

Up first, I talked to Jay. You may not know Jay (yet), but he was part of Maven’s inaugural full-time analytics bootcamp. Over the course of 12 weeks, Jay completed 10 courses, 5 projects, countless practice exercises, and earned his PL-300 certification. Oh, the PL-300 certification wasn’t part of the bootcamp curriculum, he pursued this on his own!

Jay recently earned his PL-300 certification (December 2021) and here’s his advice for anyone looking to get certified:

  • As much as possible, focus on exactly what the question is asking you about. There are a lot of details added to the question that aren’t needed, these can seem to overcomplicate what is being asked. Cutting through this really helps.

  • Don’t worry too much about the time limit. The time allowance for the exam felt quite generous, so there is no need to feel panicked by the ticking clock.

  • For many questions you will be able to cut certain answers out. There were several questions where four options were given and even though I wasn’t 100 percent certain on the answer my knowledge of the subject meant I knew enough to immediately rule out two of the four options.

  • Learn enough M code that you can just recognise what certain functions do. Reading over the most popular functions, so you have some familiarity with them, should be enough.

  • Know each section of the exam guide. If you know you are strong in DAX and visualization then you probably have enough knowledge there and should focus on data prep or row level security etc. They [Microsoft] are testing a wide range of skills so you don’t need to go too deep in areas if you feel competent in them. In retrospect, I would have spent more time going over data prep on which I was much weaker than going over my Dax skills

  • Remember the difference between column quality, column profile, and column distribution. I had at least two questions which touched on these and they are quite similar

Reem Alosherey

Reem has been a Maven student for well over a year now and has taken 21 courses so far 🤯, including Power BI Desktop, Power BI Service, and Advanced DAX. Over the course of Reem’s journey, these courses, plus a lot of study and practice, helped contribute to Reem earning the PL-300 certification. But don’t take my word for it… Reem says,

“My top tips based on my experience would be”:

  • Confirm your computer setup is good. Make sure your laptop charger is sufficient so you don't get interrupted in the middle of the exam

  • Get a full understanding of the data model and its different kinds of cardinality. This will be helpful when you come across the table names and their data type

  • Do the practice exam to get familiar with the exam questions and answers. Luckily, you [Maven] offer it at the end of your course

Marjolein Opsteegh

Marjolein is a business consultant, a Maven Analytics 2021 Hall of Fame nominee, an active voice in the LinkedIn analytics community, and a total rock star.

At the end of 2020, Marjolein discovered Maven Analytics through LinkedIn Learning and since then, she’s completed many of Maven’s courses and has started participating in our data challenges. Through this process, Marjolein realized just how effective participating in the data challenges are at refining, honing, and solidifying key analytics skills.

Marjolein tries to share the knowledge she’s gained on LinkedIn as much as possible. For example, after passing the PL-300 she wrote a post with a bunch of helpful tips and insights and shared it with the data community on LinkedIn. Here are are few of Marjolein’s top tips for success:

  • Practice your skills

    • Participate in challenges and get creative to practice different skills. Repetition is key for the exam

    • Take online prep courses and practice in parallel with the trainer. Pause the video time after time to follow along

    • Take practice exams, like the one offered by MeasureUp, to find your weak points. Follow up with extra study focusing on those weak points

    • Take your time to practice before going for the exam. Of course it is personal but take your time. Going through just one course is not enough for this exam

  • Prepare for the exam format

    • Before you take the exam, check the exact Exam duration

    • Mostly the exam starts and ends with case studies. A case study contains about 4 questions. At the end of a case study you have to close that part of the exam. Don’t hesitate too long, every minute counts, go on!

    • Review the exam duration and question types. Go through the following link, inch by inch, so you will not be surprised during your exam https://href.li/?https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/learn/certifications/exam-duration-question-types

  • Don’t hesitate

    • In my experience, you have about 1.6 minutes per question. If you don’t know the answer, mark the question, go on, and revisit it later

  • Don’t get bogged down by extra text

    • There is an awful lot of text to read, especially for non native speakers, don’t read it all!! Go through the questions and cases diagonal, every second counts Especially the cases, don’t read the text first, go directly to the questions and search for the answers in the text

    • Try not to get frustrated about questions that [seemingly] don’t belong in the exam. There are very, very specific questions about stuff you never saw before, just gamble those

  • Stay focused

    • Try to stay on track during the exam, even if it seems worthless go on, there is always a chance you pass when you didn’t expect it anymore, every point counts

Farida Huseynova

Farida’s story is one of dedication, determination, and goal achievement. At the beginning of the 2021, Farida went through a goal setting exercise and decided that earning the PL-300 certification should be on her list. Well, in November of 2021, Farida accomplished this goal and officially became a Microsoft certified Data Analyst Associate:

“I can say without exaggeration that I have benefited greatly from your training. I started with Microsoft Power BI Desktop for Business Intelligence, then Advanced DAX for PowerBI Desktop, and finally your exam prep course. Beside these, I did a lot of data analysis with Power BI Desktop and Service. I searched for exam related questions and tried to understand all of them. I used Power BI daily for visualization purposes. I spent 3 weeks preparing for the exam with your courses.”

Clay Cooper

Or, you could be like Clay who spent a decade as a pharmacist before reinventing himself and pursuing a data career. Clay says all he needed to do was:

“Take the Maven review course and then sign up for the exam 😂"

In all seriousness, we’ve talked alot about Clay’s career pivot and all of his hard work, tenacity, focus on continued learning, and continually pushing himself. Don’t let Clay’s quote fool you, he didn’t just “simply” take Maven’s review course and then nail the PL-300. Clay realized the best way to learn was to get his hands dirty so he specifically sought out opportunities to learn and practice.

Hard work and dedication - that’s what really contributed to Clay taking the PL-300 exam prep course and ultimately passing the PL-300.

Jeremy Anderson

Jeremy is an analytics consultant who decided to pursue the Data Analyst Associate certification and came up with a solid plan to accomplish this goal. As an analyst in a previous role, Jeremy developed several reports and maintained an app for a sales and marketing department. He had a solid baseline, but knew he would need to fill in some gaps in order to pass the PL-300.

After reading through the PL-300 skills outline, Jeremy identified the areas where he needed to bolster his understanding and determined that the combination of Microsoft guided learning and Maven’s PL-300 prep course would be sufficient. His plan was set and all he needed to do was execute.

And execute he did! Jeremy passed the PL-300 and put together a guide based on his experience. Here are his top 5 tips for you:

  • Know your why: Whenever you set out to learn a new skill or accomplish a goal, it’s good to ‘know your why.’ Identifying your motivation for getting certified will give you a sense of focus and purpose

  • Review the exam guide: Make sure to read the exam guide, as it lists out the skills covered. Cross off topics you feel confident about and highlight the ones you need to work on

  • Create a learning plan: Knowing what you need to learn and how you plan to learn it will help you stay organized and focused

  • Learn from the experts: A good teacher or guide is invaluable. Aaron’s course is a great option because it is well-structured and includes hands-on practice

  • Take a practice exam: Once you feel comfortable with the major topic areas and can pass a practice exam, that is a good indicator that you are ready to take the PL-300


So, what do you say, are you motivated to take on the PL-300?

You've got your goal, now make your plan and get to work. With all of this advice in hand, the PL-300 certification is well within your reach.

Learn On 🤘🏻-Aaron

P.S. Check out my PL-300 Exam Prep course!

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