My experience of taking Microsoft DA-100 exam: Analyzing Data with Microsoft Power BI
Recently I had a chance to evaluate my Power BI development skills by taking Microsoft DA-100 exam: Analyzing Data with Microsoft Power BI. It was a great way to test my knowledge about Power BI and data analysis in general. Moreover, it was the first time that I took an online proctored exam, which was also a totally new experience for me.
In this post I will try to describe what helped me to prepare for this exam and what can you expect if you decide to take an online proctored exam as well.
Studying for exam
First of all, I truly believe that in order to successfully pass this exam you must have at least some real life experience in working with Power BI. Exam is highly focused on providing questions and use cases based on real business environments, therefore it would be quite difficult for someone without work experience to pass this exam. I don't say it's impossible, but I believe that it would require much more efforts in studying all available documentations and materials.
Before starting my preparation for this exam, I examined a list of evaluated skills that Microsoft has placed on the exam's website. It's a quite extensive list of areas that you will be evaluated on during your exam. If you are feeling confident about knowing at least 90% of all mentioned skills in this document, then I would say you have quite good chances in successfully passing this exam. I was using this list myself to evaluate which areas of Power BI I need to go through again and study a bit more. At the end, all the questions that I received during my exam, were related to one of the skills placed on that document.
At the time when I took my exam, it was still in the Beta stage, so no instructor-led courses or official study books were available. Microsoft Learn platform has some well organized free courses that are designed to give you a strong fundamental background on Power BI tool. Finally, the most useful studying material for me was the official Microsoft Power BI documentation. Anything that is related to Power BI, and what is needed to prepare for this exam, can be found in this extensive library of articles. If you're less confident about your Power BI skills, try to go through entire documentation and once you're done, you will most likely feel ready to take your exam. Especially, pay more attention to the articles that cover less known topics. Go through it several times, if needed, and try to test those skills yourself, since most of the Power BI documentation provides step-by-step guides.
Taking an online exam
It was my first time in taking an online proctored exam. In the past, I took all of my Microsoft exams in the physical test centers. It was a totally new experience for me and I wasn't fully sure what to expect before exam. I decided to take the exam in my office where I could have my full focus and nobody else would disturb me.
You're given almost 3 hours to finish your exam so you need to be sure, that during this time, no one would enter your place. Before starting my exam, I had to download the official exam application and go through a regular check-in procedure, where my internet connection and laptop configuration was tested in regards to system requirements. Next I had to take a picture of my passport, to prove my identity, and take several photos of the surroundings of my office. There was nothing allowed to be placed on my desk and no posters, or anything of that kind, were allowed to be located in front of my eyesight.
After confirming that I comply to all the rules, my laptop screen switched to the introductory part of the exam and all other applications on my computer were disabled from activating. During the entire time of my exam, I was being recorded by my laptop's web camera and I was informed that an external examiner was observing me.
There might be some cases when an examiner needs to contact you during exam. They can do it by either sending you a direct message to the chat application on your screen or by calling you on your mobile phone. Your mobile phone cannot be placed anywhere on your desk but it should be located withing an arms reach and set on the silence mode.
In total, I was given almost 3 hours to finish my exam, including time dedicated for reading exam policies and providing a feedback at the end of the exam. I'm not certain that 3 hours is a standard duration of this exam, since I took it when it was still in the Beta stage, however I still had about half of the given time left when I finished answering all my questions.
It took me a few more weeks to receive my exam results and I was finally certified as Microsoft Data Analyst Associate. All in all, I was satisfied with Microsoft online examination experience and I'm definitely going to take the same approach with my future Microsoft exams.