Since I’ve announced yesterday evening that I’ve successfully completed the DA-100 exam Analyzing Data with Microsoft Power BI, I’ve received tons of messages on LinkedIn and Twitter about the preparation for the exam, exam itself, which topics are most important, etc.
Therefore, I’ve decided to share my whole experience in one blog post, which I hope can help others who are preparing to become certified as Data Analysts. I sincerely hope that I won’t break any NDA with this post, so if you expect to see some questions, answers, descriptions, etc. please stop reading, because I won’t share that here or anywhere else…
What is DA-100 ?
Beginning this year (or maybe even at the end of the previous one), Microsoft announced that they will be changing certification strategy. Instead of being certified for specific tools (like, for example, SQL Server, Power BI, etc.), certifications are now based on specific ROLES (like Data Analyst, Data Engineer, Data Scientist, Developer, and so forth).
This means that old certifications and exams will be retired (first it was planned for mid-year 2020, now at the time of writing it is until January 31st, 2021), so if you plan to take “old” exams – hurry up:)
DA-100 is a “legitimate” successor of existing 70-778 Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Power BI. If you take a brief look at the curriculum of both exams, I would say that they overlap in about 80%, which implies that if you already prepared for 70-778, you can probably make an easy switch to DA-100.
But, because Power BI is changing so rapidly, there are many fancy new features included in DA-100, especially related to AI stuff. However, don’t be scared if you are not familiar with those topics yet – they make just the small part of the exam.
Preparation for the exam
To be completely honest, I didn’t make any special preparations for the exam. Since I’m using Power BI on a daily basis, I would say that in my case hands-on experience played a pivotal role. However, my biggest concern was the fact that I mostly work with Power BI Desktop for Report Server (PBIRS) and I have very limited experience working with Power BI Service in an enterprise environment.
That said, I felt pretty handicapped for “Deploy and maintain deliverables” set of skills. So, I’ve had to find an alternative way to gain knowledge for this quite important section.
I forgot to mention that I’ve taken the exam while it was in Beta, so no official learning guides were available, but as soon as the exam became live, I’ve noticed that Microsoft published learning paths for every single section for the exam!
That’s fantastic news since one can find every single topic covered in detail. I’ve used Microsoft Learn to improve my knowledge of Power BI Service and I have to admit that they really did a great job. So, if you want to prepare for free, simply go to Microsoft Learn and start going through all the topics.
Another great resource is an online course by Parker Stevens from BI Elite . This course is not free, but it’s not expensive either for what you get. It walks you through every single point listed in preparation list. I watched only a few videos, but from what I heard from other people and knowing that Parker Stevens is a real expert on Power BI, I believe that this course is also worth considering.
However, in complete honesty, real hands-on experience working with Power BI is the biggest advantage for someone who plan to successfully pass the exam. I don’t want to discourage people who are new to Power BI or haven’t worked previously with it – just be ready to go harder way…
3, 2, 1…Exam
I know that most of you are interested in this part, so no hard feelings about the long story before:)… I needed to lay the ground for the most entertaining part.
The exam itself lasts 180 minutes, which is more than enough to complete everything without any rush. So, first takeaway from this blog post is:
Don’t panic, don’t hurry – there is really quite enough time to thoroughly think about questions, answers and to review everything later
The exam consists of a combination of multi-choice questions and case studies. My advice here:
Keep your focus high when doing case studies, since there are some specific requests that need to be carefully examined
Finally, my feeling is that topics are distributed more or less even, but if I need to choose ones which looked maybe a little more represented than others, this would be my list:
Power Query (especially Power Query transformations)
Usage of specific visualization types
A lot of you asked me about how much DAX and M are in the exam. Honestly, not much and only some really basic stuff, which should in any case be part of a default skillset for any aspiring data analyst (and Power BIer).
Once you complete the exam, you should instantly get your results. I’ve had to wait until the exam changed its status from beta to live, but it was well worth waiting:)
If you successfully passed the exam (and I believe that everyone who is reading this will do that), you get your MCSA certification (Microsoft Certified: Data Analyst Associate), which is valid for 2 years from the date you took the exam.
Instead of a conclusion, my message to anyone planning to take this exam: keep learning and practicing, if you are stuck, answers are everywhere around (Power BI community is truly awesome). If you put enough effort and dedication, I’m sure that it will pay dividends in the end by earning the certification.
In case you have any additional questions or considerations, feel free to leave the comment down below…
Last Updated on July 2, 2020 by Nikola