Category Archives: Exams

Road to the MCSE

After my last MCP exam I got my MCSA in BI Reporting and my MCSE in Data Management and Analytics.  This was my 5th.

There are different advantages of these exams.  My first exam was the 70-768 about OLAP Cubes. I took that in July of 2017,  before the end of a long project that involved creating and managing lots of MOLAP cubes. I read 3 books for the exam not only to make sure that I pass but to make sure I also master the advanced level topics.  After I passed the exam I started to study other reporting tools knowing that I can move on from studying OLAP all the time.

The next one was the 70-779 Power BI exam in January 2018. It was harder to prepare for this one a bit because the exam ref. book was not published yet. I would say that about 6 months of working with Power BI is enough to pass the exam.

To understand different possible reporting achitectures on-premises or in the cloud, you should have a basic knowledge of Azure solutions so preparing for the 70-473 exam provided that for me. That exam also does not have an exam ref book but it had a practice test.

After these exams I thought that I need to improve my T-SQL skills so the next one became the 70-761. This is an example where unlike the Power BI exam I did not just prove that I have the skills by working with the technology. It was the other way this time, later I could use a lot of functions, solutions in my work from the practice test or the exam ref book.

My last exam so far is the 70-778 about Excel. I took it for two reasons, one was to get the certifications and the other was that I thought that every BI developer should take this exam becasue Excel is the most popular analytical tool. You can say that you don’t know Tableau or QlikView but you can’t say that you are not good at Excel.

I have kept on studying since the last exam because every book I read every video I watch takes me further on the road of becoming a data scientist.   What is a data scientist? My opinion is that it is more than a BI developer but still has to specialize in something. How many data scientist does it take to change a lightbulb? Two! The one is specialized in using a ladder, the other is specialized in turning things counter-clockwise.

Exam 70-779 Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Microsoft Excel

I bought the Exam Ref book written by Chris Sorensen. Link   

I watched the edX course videos and read the book twice before taking the exam.  I did not do the exercises in the book. The book is good but it is for preparing for the exam not for teaching beginners.

I think if you passed the 70-778 Power BI exam, you can easily pass this one.  Most of us BI developers started our careers before Power BI gained widespread popularity so we know Power Pivot/ the Excel Data model well.  You need to know the following topics to successfully pass the exam:

  1. Basic DAX
  2. Advanced Power Query
  3. Excel visualization types
  4. Understanding basic M code
  5. Everything else from the skills measured list

This exam is recommended for BI developers and others who have never taken an MCP exam before and would like to start with an easy one.

Exam passed : 70-761 Querying Data with Transact-SQL

I have passed the 70-761 Microsoft exam on 2018-06-21.

Using T-SQL is the first programming language that you should master if you want to be a data scientist or PowerBI ninja – whichever is cooler.  There is an ocean of beginner level study sources, try to avoid the worthless kind. Try Paul Scotchford’s classes on Udemy first.

I prepared for the exam by reading the Exam ref book and practicing with the practice test from the Microsoft Press Store.   

The book is great but also very dry so I recommend reading it multiple times. Read it first quickly, not getting bogged down by very complicated topics.  I had soon realized that I can learn much better by wathing videos.  I had enrolled in one of the Edx courses about SQL. After enrolling I immediately downloaded all the videos and subtitles from the site for offline viewing.  I had found good explanation videos on other platforms such as YouTube. After watching videos about every topic of the exam,
reading and understanding the exam ref book for a second time was much easier.

The exam was very difficult. There were some questions that were tricky or just not clear for me. For some questions you are required to type in the code which is a lot more complicated than choosing the right one from multiple solutions. I had used all the 120 minutes to answer the questions.  I recommend practicing test taking by either using practice tests or learning languages with the Duolingo app. When you have 8 different possible answers you have to scan them fast for obvious and not so obvious errors. You are given a laminated pad that you can use to take notes. You can write down the letters of the possible answers and cross them one by one.

The book is not for beginners but otherwise very good, I plan to read it once in every three months because it helps you use T-SQL more effectively.

Designing and Implementing Cloud Data Platform Solutions Exam Passed 70-473

Hi there!

I have passed the above mentioned exam on Monday, 12/February/2018.

First, let me direct you to the  site for a general introduction of Azure Services.

This exam is about Azure database solutions.
I have watched a lot of training videos preparing for this exam but I think reading is a much better way to get to know the Azure services.  Continue reading Designing and Implementing Cloud Data Platform Solutions Exam Passed 70-473