Monday, March 22, 2010

More Thoughts on Certification

After a great response to my last post on Certification, I need to post my thoughts on 70-450 PRO: Designing, Optimizing and Maintaining a Database Administrative Solution Using Microsoft SQL Server 2008.

I scheduled the test for exactly 2 weeks after taking and passing 70-432 TS: Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Installation and Maintenance.  This might have been a little aggressive, but Jeremiah Peschka (@peschkaj) had a voucher for the exam if I could take it in 2 weeks, so I had nothing to lose.


With the short time frame and the fact that there is not a Prep Kit like there is for 70-432, it was a bit more difficult to prepare for the exam.  I did 3 thing to prepare:

  1. I went through the Learning Plan which really wasn’t that helpful.
  2. I printed out the skills measured and read Books On Line for the areas I was least confident in.
  3. I asked some questions on Twitter using the #sqlhelp tag.

As I said, the first one wasn’t that helpful as it really just gave an overview of new features.  If I were taking the test just after the product release it would have been more helpful.

Number 2 was very helpful, except that there is so much information that COULD be on the test and, in my limited time frame, there was no way to study ALL the areas I wanted to study.

Number 3 is always helpful especially if you know what question(s) to ask.  There are many high level SQL Server people on twitter like Paul Randal (@PaulRandal), Jonathan Kehayias (@SQLSarg), and Gail Shaw (@SQLintheWild), just to a name a few. 


As in my first certification post, I arrived about 30 minutes ahead of the scheduled test time and it took about 10 minutes to get into the test.  The format of the test was the same, but in this instance I took all but about 10 minutes of the allotted time.  There were six more questions on this test than on 70-432 and the questions definitely dealt with more enterprise-level topics than 70-432.  There were at least 3 questions that  I guessed on.  I had narrowed them down to 2 possible answers and just had to pick one based on experience and common sense.  Having said that I did pass the test and with a higher score than the easier 70-432.

Final Thoughts

This test was what I thought 70-432 would be.  There are many thoughts on what certification should be, see this SQLServerCentral thread for few opinions.  I think Microsoft, and other technology companies, are in a tough spot.  In order to show that you can really do the job, you need to be presented with some problems and then solve them.  I’m not sure how you do this, in an automated way without more resources, which will drive up the cost.  From what I understand of the MCDBA certification tests, I never took one, there was a lot of syntax and configuration setting memorization required, things that most practicing DBA’s look up.  I think Microsoft has addressed these issues by making the tests more practical and based on problem-solving than memorization.

So now I’m an MCITP: Database Administration and plan on taking the SQL developer tests sometime later this year.


  1. Congrats Jack!
    Wish you success in your next certs!

  2. Congrats Jack. I need to get off my lazy butt and get studying for these as well (Well, the developer ones anyways). Great to hear that there is less memorization than there were on the MCDBA tests. My favorite were the questions where they showed you a popup box with 5-6 tabs on it, and the question was "You want to do X... which tab do you need to click to do this?"

  3. Jack,

    Great job. I need to take 70-450 as well, and have been scrounging about how to study for it. Your #2 looks like the way to go.

    Congrats on passing!

  4. Thanks for the congrats guys.


    I haven't done the developer tests yet, but I bet you could pass no problem.


    #2 is definitely the way to go. A lot of the skills overlap with 70-432 so you can be ready for a lot of 70-450 with that prep.

  5. Thanks for that last bit. I'll bump up my 450 exam based on that. From everything I've been reading/seeing, it sounds like I was prepping for 450 when I took 432. I'm reviewing the skills measured now to see where I'm really, really lacking and figure that if I don't pass I don't really lose anything. :)

    Personally, I miss the MCSE cert and the Technet plus subscription that came with said certification.

  6. Peter,

    I think you'll do fine on 450. I was surprised at how well I did. It would be nice if they showed how you did compared to everyone else. Kind of like Brainbench does by showing what percentage your score falls in. I mean if 90% get 900+ did you really do well or are you average?

    Boy that subscription would sure be a nice benefit. I believe you get that if you become an MCT though.


So what do you think I am?