Microsoft certification exams are a great way to test your knowledge in the latest Microsoft offerings while also showing others that you know your stuff. There are a wide range of certifications, ranging from broad fundamental knowledge to advanced mastery of a certain skill. Once you have identified an exam you want to take, follow the these study hacks to learn and practice your knowledge and skills.
Let's say you want to get started on the PL-200, which is the Microsoft Power Platform Functional Consultant exam. You should first start by going to the exam homepage and downloading the exam skills outline. This divides the exam content by major topics and tells you the percentage each topic takes up on the exam:
It's important that you review this list and use it as a guide to your study.
As you begin to actually study, Microsoft Learn is an invaluable resource. It contains learning modules for just about every software, program, feature, and platform that Microsoft offers. You can browse by Products at the top. If we're continuing to study for the PL-200, we would want to choose Power Platform.
You can then filter by relevant roles and levels. Learning Paths are guided paths that take you through an entire process or topic, while a module (multiple of which comprise Learning Paths) takes you through a specific feature or concept. I highly recommend finding all relevant Learning Paths to your specific topic and going through each of them. They provide interactive tutorials and quizzes to test your knowledge.
You cannot expect to pass a Microsoft exam by just reading about the software and not even touching it! Real life examples and interacting and practicing the concepts is essential. Microsoft provides free 30-day trials for most of their offerings (if you do not already have access through your work or personal account). For example, smack dab in the center of the Power Apps homepage is an offer to start your free trial.
YouTube has a ton of free tutorials. Just typing in "Power Platform" brings up hundreds of results from enthusiasts and trainers. As you get deeper into your studying, you can start typing in the name of a certain feature or example, and you'll be surprised at how much in-depth content there is. For example, one of the features I need to know how to use for the PL-200 is charts within Power Apps. I searched for that and it yielded great results. These are also invaluable when you go beyond studying for exams and want to make your own apps for fun!
Pluralsight is a paid tutorial service that contains a large library of software courses. If you don't want dig around YouTube, and you can find a course on Pluralsight that matches with the content you need for your exam, it may be easier to pay for a subscription and dig into a several-hours-long tutorial. Pluralsight allows for a ten-day free trial to test it out.
Taking at least one (or many) practice exams is essential before taking the official Microsoft exam. You need to understand the format of the exam and the wording of the questions before the real deal. Microsoft exams aren't the most eloquently worded, so it's important to know the types of answers that they deem correct. MeasureUp is the exam service that Microsoft recommends so that is what I have used. The practice tests are great in that they can directly replicate the environment of a real exam. You can also take practice versions of the exams and decide the number of questions you want, the topics you need more practice on, and more. The best feature is that the answers provide descriptions as to why they are correct or incorrect, with direct links to official Microsoft documentation on that topic. This is amazing, as you can do more reading on topics you got wrong. These practice exams are not free, unfortunately, but I believe it is worth it if you are serious about passing an exam.
Those are the tools I recommend in studying for a Microsoft certification exam. Using all, or at least some of the tools that I mentioned are essential, will greatly improve your chances of passing your exam on the first try. Good luck!