Over the weekend I took the PL-500 exam and I thought I would share my thoughts and experiences so that you guys could go and take the exam too!
The Microsoft Power Automate RPA developer 500 (MS-500) exam is for any professional who specialises in RPA using Microsoft Power Automate and want to test their skills in designing, building, testing, and deploying RPA solutions. The exam covers topics such as solution design and development, troubleshooting, data and exception handling, security, and governance, and is suitable for developers, architects, solution designers, and IT professionals with experience in RPA development and a good understanding of Microsoft Power Automate! To take the exam, you will need a Microsoft certification account where you can register through the Microsoft website, with the option to take it in different languages, online or at a Microsoft testing centre. The exam focuses on the technical aspects of RPA development using Microsoft Power Automate, so it is important to have a good understanding of the product and hands-on experience in building RPA solutions first!
I studied using the Microsoft learn website and the recommended paths at the bottom of the exam page here.
The exam, for me focused on two main areas;
1 – Which type of flow to use and when
2 – Technically how to implement, share and deploy flows
Which Type of Flow
This was the more architectural element of the exam, looking at the decisions of when to use Cloud (automated or instant) or a Desktop (attended or unattended flow). Much of this is logical, based on the clues in the question, scenarios etc, that you are given. Some basic rules always apply so it’s best to narrow the potential options to choose: –
- Legacy App with no API – Desktop flow
- Web parge portal – Desktop flow
- Event triggered SharePoint or Dataverse entries added / amended – Cloud flows (automated)
- User validated data then starts a flow – Cloud (instant)
Most of the scenarios given fit into one of these use cases.
In addition, there is a whole layer of questions on integration between flows, questions like how you would trigger cloud from desktop and vice versa as the use case requires. These can be a little trickier and it’s important (as it is in real life) to make sure you read slowly and understand what is being asked.
A little tip – Working at speed or not taking time to breathe in the exam means it’s easy to pick an action not a trigger etc. This could be because you recognise the type needed and feel the pressure to move on quickly – because its an exam right! I know some folks advocate reviewing all questions again before hitting the finish button, I prefer to slow down, read the question, pick an option and then explain to myself why the other potential answers do not work – this is how I catch the trigger vs action type of mistakes. The exam usually has far more time than you really need so slowing down rather than revisiting works well for me – however I realise I’ve taken a lot of these exams and I know that its easy to give advice but once you are in the room its another story and you might panic!
Technical Implementation, Sharing and Deploying
So, here we are looking for experience that actually covers all the Power Platform, and in all the exams (PL100, PL200, PL600 etc) you are expected to understand the managed / unmanaged solutions scenarios. You need to know permissions for sharing flows and apps, the structure and use of Solutions and the types of user roles in each product.
These are heavily covered in the questions that feature 3 of the same question but with different solutions where you must identify “does this meet /solve the requirements/problem” and the scenario questions where you need to read a lot of information and then answer questions based on that information.
Tip – Normally I would recommend for a scenario question to skip reading the whole piece (it can take a lot of time) and go straight to the questions, using the question to give you the info needed – so “how can we fulfil the X requirement” – meaning you would go look for that requirement in the data given. However, for this exam I found that I needed to read everything – a lot of the clues to the environment and ability to address the questions fully were in different parts of the data. My advice for PL-500 then is to read everything before answering the questions, so you have a complete picture in your head of the solutions needed and constraints first.
On top of that you also get questions around the order of tasks (there were a few of these), where you must get the right approach as well as the right order of execution. These questions ensure you’ve used the product and solved these issues properly. Again, slowly and deliberately ask yourself, am I sure this is the right approach and image yourself executing the task with the logical order. This could be tricky if you’ve not actually played with the desktop product in multiple deployments.
Technical implementation also asks multiple choice questions on constraints and choices – you’ll find licence, windows version constraints and compatibility in here.
Learn by Questions
As I’ve mentioned before in previous learning blogs, I’m a fan of practice tests. For this exam I used MeasureUp – I have used them a few years ago and found the quality to be quite questionable, the questions did not always make sense and, I could argue, were not written by people who have used the product. However, this time I had a very positive experience with the tool. You can set as many questions from the pool of 135 as you like and I used it to provide an explanation as well as showing me the correct answers as I went along. The explanations were sound and pointed me towards any part that I needed to go off and find more information about from Learn, YouTube etc.
The only downside was that the browser kept timing out – fortunately I bought the downloaded licence, so I just installed on the laptop and all issues disappeared!
Pass / Fail
I did pass, but if you don’t it’s important to understand that the random mix of questions in this exam can often cause a bias towards your weakest area, therefore do NOT see this as a fail!
TIP – If you don’t pass first time, when you come out of the exam make sure to do a quick note taking session (in your fave tool) of the areas you felt you might have struggled with. Then take a break, give yourself a day or so to regroup, before going back to the learning materials and answering any questions you felt you didn’t answer well in your exam (from your post exam notes). There are so many YouTube videos and demos that can show you the areas you might not get the chance to play with or the types of flows you don’t get the opportunity to write.
All of us (ask any MVP) at some point has failed an Microsoft exam– so if you feel down about it, jump on Twitter and we’ll all be there to support and share with you. You’re not alone!
Best of luck and please let me know how you get on 😊
Thanks for listening – don’t forget to leave comments below or get in touch with me directly if you’d like to chat about the content posted here or anything to do with the Power Platform – I’m a Business Applications speaker and evangelist with a clear focus on delivering real business value from technology. I speak at least once a month so please find me at an event and #LetsGetCoffee