How to Study ...
Preparing for the PL-600 Power Platform Solution Architect exam is something that is typically done over time. This exam is a test of in depth platform and project knowledge. Sounds daunting I know, but never fear! The knowledge you need to pass this exam can be gained in a number of ways.
You could build knowledge by experience, based on participation in projects. This route requires a significant exposure to a broad range of technologies over time. Alternatively, preparation could also include formal training, provided by Microsoft Learning Partners. This requires an investment of dedicated time and budget that is out of the reach of many. And last but by no means least, preparation can include individual learning or group study. Hand on heart, I’d say there is no right or wrong way to prepare. Our individual approach will depend largely on our own personal situation.
That said, I make no secret of the fact that I’m a big fan of self-learning. I’m a single mum of 4 with a busy working life so both free time and budget are very limited! I find study groups are really useful, and I join them wherever possible. I tend to look out on LinkedIn and Twitter for anything being run by Julian Sharp, a Microsoft MVP. Julian’s study groups are extremely well organised both in terms of content and structure. And Julian is a master of all things D365 Power/Platform related who seriously knows his stuff! I have passed 5 D365/Power Platform exams while studying with Julian. Unfortunately there were no groups running while I prepared for the PL-600 Power Platform Solution Architect exam. However, I did get a lot of help from some other Community heroes and I’ve detailed this below.
What to Study ...
The PL-600 exam is the core exam required to attain the Power Platform Solution Architect Expert certification. It tests functional and non-functional knowledge of the Power Platform, Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement and other related technologies.
However, to attain the Power Platform Solution Architect Expert certification you will also need to pass one or more other exams. These are the PL-200 Power Platform Functional Consultant and/or the PL-400 Power Platform Developer exams.
The PL-600 exam measures the following skills;
- Perform Solution envisioning and requirement analyses (35-40%)
- Initiate solution planning
- Identify organisation information and metrics
- Identify existing solutions and systems
- Capture requirements
- Perform fit/gap analysis
- Architect a solution (40-45%)
- Lead the design process
- Design the data model
- Design integrations
- Design the security model
- Implement the solution (15-20%)
- Validate the solution design
- Support go-live
Using Microsoft Learn ...
When studying for any Microsoft certification, Microsoft Learn is your key resource. When getting started with Microsoft Learn, I would recommend you set up a ‘Learning Profile’. You will need the Microsoft Certification ID associated with your profile when you schedule an exam. Additionally, your learning profile will help you keep track of what you have studied and what is left to cover.
Once you’ve set up a learning profile, you can browse certifications to find information relating to PL-600. Key resources include the Skills Outline, and the Learning Paths. Learning Paths are collections of Modules that lead you through the learning content covered by the exam. The Learning Paths for PL-600 are listed below.
- Architect solutions for Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Power Platform
- Solution Architect: Design Microsoft Power Platform Solutions
Wherever available, I would recommend always following the links to any further documentation suggested in Microsoft Learn. I would also recommend allowing more time than is estimated to complete the Modules. In my experience, it always takes longer to work through the resources than estimated.
Other Learning Material ...
As with all certifications, I checked for Community resources to augment the MS Learn materials. As mentioned earlier, I found some great material by a couple of real community all-stars!
One of my favourite Community contributers, Joe Griffin, has created a series of blogs around PL-600. Joe has produced some awesome content around D365 and the Power Platform. If you are thinking of taking the PL-600 exam, I would definitely recommend checking out Joe’s blog.
As the PL-600 has recently replaced the MB-600 you might also find it helpful to search for resources for that exam. There is definitely an overlap in content between these exams. I found some great videos for MB-600 on the Microsoft events website.
I would also check out Neil Parkhurst’s blog, as he has some great info on there. I recently took the MB-600, which the precursor to the PL-600. Most of my learning for this was based on Neil’s blog.
Taking the Exam ...
Information on the exam itself is available on the PL-600 certification page on Microsoft Learn. You can also book the exam from there. I would advise anyone new to Microsoft certification to check through the Exam Resources section. It is also a good idea to check the information relating to exams and question types included on Microsoft Docs.
You can either take exams remotely or in person at a test centre. Over the past year I have taken all of my Microsoft exams at home. And I have not experienced too many issues preparing for this. I usually allow at least 15 minutes to prepare the room for the exam. I normally cover my bookcase and TV with a blanket, clear my desk, and unplug my second monitor. This is normally good enough preparation for the security check.
I normally leave an additional 15 minutes for the security check itself. This is usually enough time to upload photos of my workspace and ID. Once uploaded these are verified, and occasionally need to be retaken.
Occasionally, the proctor has asked me to remove items from the room. This can be a pain and slightly unnerving. So if you do happen to find yourself in this situation don’t worry. Just patiently comply and try not to become anxious. And hopefully it will all turn out well in the end!