How to pass the MCSA BI Reporting certification

When I first started to look into the requirements for passing the MCSA BI Reporting certification, I found it difficult to grasp exactly how to best prepare. So now that I am done, I am passing on my advice while it is still fresh. Amazon affiliatelinks for the books.

The MCSA BI Reporting Certification requires you to pass two exams:

These exams are meant for people who actually have on-the-job experience working with datamodeling, SQL reporting, Power BI and Power Pivot in Excel. Without this rather technical experience it is going to be very tough. Creating cool, interactive dashboards in Power BI is really a minor requirement in this setting.

First off I would suggest to look into the courses provice by EdX.  DAT207x Power BI and DAT206x Excel will give you the basic preparation for these examns.

DAXSecondly you need to know DAX fundamentals. I bought the book The Definitive Guide to DAX. (Small heads-up — it is about 750 pages).

I also used the Microsoft website to look up syntax while I was studying. Just understanding the syntax for each of the basic expressions will not be enough. You need to understand how they work together.

Understand the difference between ordinary functions such as SUM, AVERAGE and COUNT and their x-iterators (SUMX, AVERAGEX AND COUNTX).

Know when to use the CALCULATE function and understand the basic time intelligence functions.

M is the lauguage used in Power Query. I bought both of the Exam ref books (Power BI, Excel) and M is implicitly part of the skills required. To get a feel for this language I suggest you check out the advanced editor in Power Query once you have done some basic tasks. Here you can see how the tasks are performed using M. Some basic feel for the language should suffice. Note that DAX is way more important than M in the exam, if you have to prioritize.

You have to understand relationships in datamodeling. Direction and cardinality. I learnt this from a book I bought on datamodeling by Ferrari and Russo (yes – I bought a lot of books).

I think it is a good idea to understand the licencing model that Microsoft use for Power BI, and also understand how Power BI is linked to Sharepoint, Office 365 and other apps.

Row level security is an important topic. I am not sure if it was on the exam, but understanding of this level of security will definitly not hurt.

That is my top-of-mind tips for passing the exams. Best of luck, and please leave a comment if you have other tips or if you need more pointers.


  1. Thanks Ellen for lot of good tips. I will share these with my team members who are preparing for Power BI certification. Though the exam is changed from 778 to DA-100, these the tips are still relevant 100%. After all it will be same great Power BI stuff, the exam format may change though!


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