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Passing the Power BI 70-778 BI Certification Exam: Learning how to become a Data Wrangler

By Phillip Guglielmi posted 01-09-2018 05:43 PM


Preparing for the Power BI certification exam

Topic: 70-778 Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Microsoft Power BI

Writers: Phillip Guglielmi | Senior Solutions and Business Intelligence Architect

You are a seasoned veteran in business intelligence and data architecture, and you are ready to embark on the journey to becoming a certified BI professional. The goal is to solidify our understanding of what it means to have data, anywhere, any time. You are among the proud group of individuals who are currently managing data in the organizational environment, or you are seeking to hone the skills necessary to call oneself a data wrangler. Passing the 70-778 Analyzing and Visualizing Data in Power BI is the key to delivering on those. This post is divided into sections that enable an individual to quickly scan and get a cursory overview of the certification. The sections are as follows:

    • Who should take the test,

    • Tracks to becoming a Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) or Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE),

    • Scoring and exam basics,

    • Exam delivery and availability,

    • Preparation options, and

    • Most importantly, the skills measured in the exam.

As a BI Professional, I most often see people having difficulty with both compiling data AND extracting insight from this data. Today is about solutions to those ever-present problems.

Excel can no longer be the sole solution for our data queries. However, Microsoft’s Power tools including Power BI represents a seminal moment – because for the first time these tools extend the analytical power of Analysis Services from the server and on to the client’s PC – giving business users enormous analytical capabilities, freed from the rigors of a centralized I.T. department.

This is where I come in. An accountant and CPA by trade, I followed my training to be Chief Analyst for the CFO of an international financial institution. Drawn to data analytics I became a hybrid reporting to the CFO and acting as liaison to the CIO. I became obsessed with providing data to business users, and it was time to be more effective and productive by achieving this valuable technical certification – the 70-778 Business Intelligence Certification exam.

Power BI is quickly gaining popularity among professionals in data science as a cloud-based service that helps them easily visualize and share insights from their organizations’ data. When you pass these certifications, you will have proof of your ability to work with Microsoft data analysis and data analysis tools.

Who should take this exam?

  • Candidates may include BI professionals, data analysts, and other roles responsible for creating reports by using Power BI.
  • Candidates for this exam should have a good understanding of how to use Power BI to perform data analysis
  • Candidates should be proficient in connecting to data sources and performing data transformations, modeling and visualizing data by using Microsoft Power BI Desktop, and configuring dashboards by using the Power BI service.
  • Candidates should also be proficient in implementing direct connectivity to Microsoft SQL Azure and SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS), and implementing data analysis in Microsoft Excel.

What tracks are available to become a MCSA?

  • Simplified Tracks
    • Requires passing 2 exams
    • Only one more exam to reach MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert)
    • MCSA certification is required in order to become an MCSE.

Below is a visual of the paths available:

How does the Power BI exam fit in to these paths? Power BI covers two for the certifications, 70-778, Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Microsoft Power BI and 70-779, Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Microsoft Excel. Candidates should have the ability to use Excel and Power BI to design, develop, and deploy solutions using Power Pivot, Power Query, Power BI, Power Map – Charles Sterling likes to refer to these as the Power * line up. I encourage anyone to take the tests as these are meant to be attempted. They are meant for individuals like all of you who are at their core data enthusiast.

Exam basics:

  • 40-60 questions
  • 1-3 hours to complete the exam
  • Can review questions (for most question types)
  • Can include up to 20 different types of questions
  • 700 is passing
    • 700 <> 70%
  • Can be taken Online or at a registered exam location
Note 700 does not always represent 70%. Similar to most exams of its type, it is a normalized score, and it is on an exam by exam basis.

Scheduling the exam:

  • Can be taken Online or at a registered exam location
  • Schedule the exam via the Microsoft website. Note you will be redirected to the Pearson site to schedule.
  • Online proctored exams are available for those interested.

Online proctored (OP)
exam delivery allows you to take an exam in the comfort of your home or office while being monitored by a proctor via webcam and microphone. If you’re interested in taking an Online Proctored exam and want a better understanding of what to expect before registering, take a look at the informational video in English, or select a video with Arabic, French, German, Portuguese, or Spanish subtitles. Please use this preparation guide to prepare for the exam, regardless of its format. To help you prepare for this exam, Microsoft recommends that you have hands-on experience with the product and that you use the specified training resources. These training resources do not necessarily cover all of the topics listed in the "Skills measured" section.

If you are new to Power BI or do not have much experience with the Power BI ecosystem, I would recommend starting with these helpful self-paced learning options. This will provide a good introduction to Power BI and are self-paced or free training resources. 

Preparation options:

Below is a summary of Microsoft’s course 20778A: Analyzing Data with Power BI.

Other courses include one held by the guru of Power BI, Will Thompson on EdX.org - https://www.edx.org/course/analyzing-visualizing-data-power-bi-microsoft-dat207x-6

Also, review the guided section on Power BI.com - https://www.edx.org/course/analyzing-visualizing-data-power-bi-microsoft-dat207x-7

Lynda.com Learning Microsoft Power BI Desktop: https://www.lynda.com/Power-BI-tutorials/Up-Running-Microsoft-Power-BI-Desktop/445425-2.html

Pragmatic Works also has many free webinars regarding Power BI on their website. Just do a search for Power BI on this page: http://pragmaticworks.com/Training/Courses#type=Free

Ted Pattison, a well seasoned subject matter expert and data wrangler holds personal training on the Microsoft BI stack at Critical Path Training.

Skills Measured

STOP. The Skills Measured (which will be discussed briefly below) in the Power BI certification are broken down into three topics with each topic including three to four size subtopics. Each subtopic has a description, which I will include here in this presentation for reference. Under each subtopic, I will list the resources that will help prepare. This list is not meant to be exhaustive but to serve as a ramping up point for you to begin your studies and deep dive into Power BI.

Consume and Transform Data by Using Power BI Desktop | 20-25% of the exam questions are on these topics.


The pillars making up this section are:

  • Connect to data sources
    • Connect to databases, files, folders; import from Excel; connect to SQL Azure, Big Data, SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS), and Power Query
  • Perform transformations
    • Design and implement basic and advanced transformations, apply business rules, change data format to support visualization
  • Cleanse data
    • Manage incomplete data, meet data quality requirements

Model and Visualize Data | 45-50% of the exam questions come from these topics.

The pillars making up this section are:

  •  Create and optimize data models
  • Manage data relationships, optimize models for reporting, manually enter data, Use Power Query
    • How to Manage Your Data Relationships
    • Optimizing data models for better visualizations
    • Optimize your data for Power BI Quick Insights
    • Enter data directly into Power BI Desktop
  • Create calculated columns, tables, and measures
    • Create DAX queries
        • Calculated columns
        • Tables
        • Measures
        • Power BI Desktop Quick Measures 
        • Create performance KPIs
          • Calculate the actual, calculate the target, calculate actual to target
          • Tutorial on creating KPIs in Power BI Desktop

      • Create hierarchies
        • Use date hierarchies, use business hierarchies, resolve hierarchy issues
          • Visual hierarchies and drill-down behavior
          • Exploring time based visualizations
        • Create and format interactive visualizations
          • Select a visualization type
          • Configure page layout and formatting
          • Setup visual relationships, configure duplicate pages
          • Handle categories that have no data, setup default summaries and categories
          • Position, align, and sort visuals, enable and integrate R visuals, format calculated measures 
        • Manage custom reporting solutions
          • Use Power BI API
          • Use Microsoft Power BI Embedded
          • Enable developers to create and edit dashboards through custom applications
          • Enable developers to embed dashboards in applications
          • Authenticate a Power BI web application

Configure Dashboards in the Power BI Service |
25-30% of the questions in the exam are on these topics

The pillars making up this section are:

  • Configure a dashboard
  • Connect to the Power BI service, publish connections to services by using SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS), publish visualizations including data
  • Configure a dashboard, add text and images, filter dashboards, configure dashboard settings, customize the URL and title, enable natural language queries
  • Publish dashboards
    • Publish to web
    • Publish to Microsoft SharePoint
    • Publish to SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)
  • Configure security for dashboards
    • Create a security group by using the Admin Portal
    • Share dashboard with users or security groups
    • Integrate with Microsoft OneDrive for Business
    • Configure row-level Security
    • Configure gateways
  • Configure organizational content packs and apps
    • Create a content pack
    • Publish a content pack
    • Edit a content pack
    • Package dashboards and reports
    • Configure app workspace

I hope you find this blog useful both in preparing and passing the exam. Becoming a data wrangler requires the drive to continuously learn and evolve as the Power BI ecosystem is changing very, very quickly. Therefore, when preparing for the 70-778 exam, use the materials and make sure to review the certification exam page for the official list of Skills Measured on the exam. Please feel free to reach out to me with preparation questions, and let me know how you do - pguglielmi@velosio.com or find me on LinkedIn.

Some of the favorite resources for preparing and continuing education:


Marco Russo’s and Alberto Ferrari’s | The Definitive Guide to DAX


Rob Collie and Avi Singh’s book | Power Pivot and Power BI



Learning More About Power BI

Power BI Team Blog and Videos

Power BI is a complex product that changes quickly, so there is always more to learn about it. The Power BI blog has regular roundups of new updates and features, technical tips, and announcements. Keep your knowledge up-to-date by following all posts on the official Power BI blog: https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/

Power BI Community Site

Community contributions including Forum Q&A, Themes Gallery, Data Stories Gallery, R Scripts Gallery, Quick Measures Gallery, among others.


Power BI Community Bloggers

The Power BI blog roll collects posts from many of the prominent bloggers in the Power BI community: https://community.powerbi.com/t5/custom/page/page-id/BlogRollExtracts

Power BI User Groups

Power BI user groups have been established in many places around the world and are a great place to hear talks by Power BI experts, talk to other Power BI users and recruit new staff. To find a local Power BI user group see: https://www.pbiusergroup.com

PUG Academy

Are you looking for deeper Power BI training as a developer, administrator, or business analyst that cannot be learned in a webinar or YouTube video? Take a look at our hybrid academy courses that can be taken on-site or virtually from the comfort of your own desk.




2 days ago

Here is a great resource for free Power BI Training:

For Power BI: https://mva.microsoft.com/product-training/power-bi#!lang=1033

For Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Excel: https://mva.microsoft.com/en-US/training-courses/analyzing-and-visualizing-data-with-excel-11157?l=GqslHKXPB_5005095270

02-27-2018 05:39 PM

I am planning to give MCSA Certification and found that we have to give 70-778 and 70-779 exams for that. Can somebody please let me know where can I find documentation or materials or any resources or classes online or any videos  which helps me to prepare for this exams.Thanks in Advance.

02-19-2018 11:03 AM

Having just passed this exam last Friday (and therefore earning my MCSA: BI Reporting!), I'll add that the video courses on EdX.org are also very good.

01-18-2018 12:52 PM

​Thank you Jon and Trevor.

A big congratulations to Andreas for passing. That is awesome, and you should be super proud.​

01-18-2018 09:52 AM

​I passed the Power BI Beta exam. I can confirm that the training resources mentioned are a good starting point.
Besides that I would encourage everybody to use Power BI Desktop / Service as much as possible. And don't forget to always follow the official Power BI blog.

01-11-2018 10:55 PM

Phillip, thank you for preparing and sharing such a great overview on the 70-778 exam.

01-10-2018 08:40 PM