Well, it’s just about three months since I committed to taking the exam for Microsoft’s PL-900 certification. Per this post, I got an exam voucher from my company, back in March. At that time, I set a “next week” reminder flag on that email in Outlook, and I’ve just been kicking the reminder to “next week” again every Friday. So finally I decided to just stop putting it off and take the test today. (It helps that it was a quiet day, with nothing else on my calendar.)
I have a few observations about the exam-taking process that I thought I’d share, since I wasn’t at all sure how it was going to work, so maybe this will help someone else who is planning on taking a Microsoft exam.
First, I wasn’t sure if I should go for the at-home option or go to a testing center. I checked Pearson’s site for local testing centers, and there’s one that’s about 10 miles away from here. So not too far, but far enough that I thought I’d try the at-home option instead.
At-home, of course, was not an option the last time I took an exam, back in 2010. I’d heard some worrying things about the requirements for at-home tests, which I wasn’t sure I’d be able to fulfill. They want to minimize cheating, of course, so you have to take photos of your work environment, to show that you don’t have any reference material at hand. My apartment is so cluttered that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do that. But I managed to clear everything off my kitchen table, and I guess the photos I took were good enough for them.
But to back up a bit, first I had to schedule the exam. I know that there’s supposed to be some human review/monitoring of the exam, so I wasn’t sure if it would be easy to get a spot, but it turned out to be quite easy to schedule the exam for today. If I’d wanted, I could have taken the exam right away. I didn’t want that though, so I scheduled it for 1:45 PM. You need to check in for the exam prior to the start time, and you can do that 30 minutes prior.
After registration, I went through the “pre-flight check” that involved downloading a small program to my computer and verifying that my webcam and microphone worked, and that my internet connectivity was good enough. That was no problem.
After that, I spent some time taking (and failing) the MeasureUp practice exam again. Given that I’ve never successfully passed the practice exam, I really wasn’t sure I’d be able to pass the real one.
So at 1:15 PM, I went ahead and checked in for the exam. That process takes a while, and requires you to go through the webcam and microphone check again. Then it requires you to take some photos on your phone. They need a photo of your face, your ID (front and back), and four photos of your workspace. That all went smoothly enough. There’s no phone app for this; it’s all done through a website, which you can get to through a QR code or a text message link.
Once you’ve done all that, you have to put your phone away, so it’s out of reach, then you get put into a queue to start the test. I’m guessing that a human needs to manually review your photos and OK them. Or maybe it’s all fed into an AI thing, and only manually reviewed if the AI fails. I don’t know. It took a while for me to get out of the queue, and there were a couple of notices about connection issues that worried me a bit. But eventually I got through and the test started.
I kind of thought that there might be some required human interaction before the test, either in chat or onscreen via webcam/mic, but there was none. I just got transferred into the test.
There weren’t any unexpected surprises in the test itself. The questions were all pretty similar to what I’d seen in the practice exams. It took me about 30 minutes out of the 45 allowed to finish. And I got my results onscreen right after the exam.
I passed by a pretty reasonable margin, I think. I guess that result is a combination of (1) taking the real test more seriously than the practice tests, (2) having learned something from my repeated practice test failures, and (3) the practice tests being purposely harder than the real test.
So, post-exam, I went to the MS Learn site and downloaded a little PDF certificate, showing that I passed. I couldn’t initially find a detailed report on my score, but I just went back and checked again, and it’s there, on Pearson’s site. So my actual score was 822, where 700 was passing. Info on the scoring and the reports can be found here. I guess that’s 822 out of 1000, so… good enough.
I guess the next step here is to boast about passing the exam on social media. I think there was something on LinkedIn at one point where you could link your MCP profile to LinkedIn and then post a verified link to show that you’ve actually passed. I’m not sure if that’s still there, or if I’m even remembering that correctly. So I’ll want to look at that. And I kind of remember at one point that if you tagged MS Learning in a tweet about passing an exam, they’d retweet it and congratulate you. So I should see if I can do that. (Though I’m mostly staying off Twitter these days, for obvious reasons…)
I’ve already sent the scoring report to the person at my company that sent me the exam voucher. I guess that having a certain number of certified professionals on staff does something to help us maintain our partner status, or something like that. I know that we keep track of it.
I don’t really get much, personally, out of passing this exam. I’m not looking for a new job, and if I was, it wouldn’t be as a Power Platform guy anyway. And I don’t get a raise or bonus for doing it. But it was kind of fun and interesting to do. It’s been so long since I’ve had to take a test that it felt kind of weird to do it.
On the broader topic of continuing education, I’ve got a lot of stuff going on. This post is getting pretty long, so I’m not going to get into any of that here. Maybe I’ll write up another post over the weekend.
(UPDATE: Since I first published this, I’ve figured out that I can share a certified link to the certification through a site called Credly. So here’s the official link. So now you know I’m not lying about all this.)