Tag Archive: Certification


Update 16/12/2011 :  I’ve Passed the exam! If you are taking it, the very best of luck!


I’m writing this now, as I have the exam on Monday, and after that point any comments I make on the exam will be influenced by taking it, and therefore restricted by the NDA.

So, here are a list of the Resources I’ve used to prepare for this exam:

Microsoft Exam Preparation Page – This has alot of links to Whitepapers, and books. I’ve read almost all of the whitepapers (all of them by Monday), and 60% of the books.

Online Training videos / Associated Resources – These are a phenomenal resource. Specific, highly detailed training by Paul Randal, Kimberley Tripp, Brent Ozar and Bob Beauchemin. These are useful, even if you don’t want to do the Master Certification.

SQL Skills Training IE1 – I attended the UK course held by SQL Skills in the UK. Ideally, I’d have attended all 4, but due to Training budgets and Time, I couldn’t. This was a great course, and I highly recommend their courses. Being taught SQL Server by such highly skilled Trainers (Paul Randal and Kimberley Tripp) is an amazing experience.

Community Training Notes – Hosted by Neil Hambly (who was also on the IE1 training), this is a great resource also, and has sections of all of the areas an MCM should know. Thanks Neil.

Community events – There are many, SQLBits, SQLPass (24Hours of PASS, and the Nordic Rally event, in particular), SQL Maidenhead, SQL in the Evening, they are all really helpful, and thank you.

SQLBits also have a huge number of videos of the conference sessions available.

Of course, on top of this is the past 12 years of experience I’ve had with SQL Server (though the most has been over the past  7-8 years). For that, I’d like to thank my previous employer JI Software and most of all to my current employer, TAH Limited. I’ve been fortunate enough to work on some really challenging Data warehousing projects over the past few years, including a huge one for Vodafone (read more here).

If you are looking to do the certification, the very best of luck to you!

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I passed this exam on Friday. This was a hard one. Having taken it just over 2 months ago, and failing it, I changed the way I prepared for exams.

Previously, I’d been reading the material on the MS Learning Plan for the exam, and any associated books. For the 70-451 exam I did 6 weeks or so back, I did alot of reading of blog articles, MSDN and Books Online. For this exam however, I didn’t find the Learning plan overly helpful, and there are a huge amount of blog articles on Database Administration (some of which is contradictory).

So, having failed the exam, which isn’t a bad thing, as it proves that the exams aren’t so straightforward that everyone can pass first time, I made notes on the areas I was weakest. Then looked for relevant articles in those areas. The difficult part was finding blog articles by people who knew what they were talking about. A couple of the most useful were John Sansom (particularly the Something for the Weekend: SQL Server Links posts), and the articles from Jonathan Kehayias from SQLSkills (particularly those on Extended Events and Clustering). Thanks to you both!!

I did also find a useful book, and even better, it was one I already had. SQL Server 2008 Administrator’s Pocket Consultant (2nd Edition) by William Stanek was a great help, and while I’d read bits and pieces before, going through it from cover to cover was really helpful.

Having completed this exam, I’ve now completed the prerequisites for the SQL Master Certification, and I’ll be looking to take the Knowledge exam before Christmas.

First though, I’m going to have a break from studying for SQL Server exams. Just for a couple of days. Something different for a change, PowerShell or C++. We’ll see… Just for a couple of days though…

One more SQL Server 2008 Certification under my belt. I passed the ‘PRO: Designing Database Solutions and Data Access Using Microsoft SQL Server 2008’ exam on Friday, which gives me the MS ITP (IT Professional) Database Developer 2008 certification.

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To get through this certification, I used a number of sources, however, one of the most useful was a blog series by Eric Wisdahl (http://ericwisdahl.wordpress.com/2011/08/20/mcitp-70-451-links-page/) where he covered each of the sections listed in the exam topics.

Next up will be the 70-450 DBA certification. Once I’ve completed this exam, I’ll have completed the prerequisites for the MCM SQL Server 2008 certification, which is then another two exams!

Interestingly, to me at least, this was my 18th Microsoft certification, having taking my first back in 1999 (Implementing and Supporting NT Server 4.0)!.

Since then I’ve done:

5 x Windows NT 4
1 x Windows 2000 Professional
2 x Microsoft CRM v1.2
3 x Microsoft CRM v3
2 x SharePoint 2007 / WSS 3
1 x SQL Server 2005
4 x SQL Server 2008

And, I’m planning to do another 3 in the next 6 months.

Certified or Certifiable, you decide!

So that’s another one completed, Smile which is the third of the SQL 2008 TS level exams (there should be an Achievement for that – ‘SQL Nutter – SQL TS Hat Trick Unlocked!’.

I took the exam this afternoon, and it went better than I expected, though not as well as some colleagues thought! However, the revision material I used was predominantly experience based, though I did also use the MS Press Training book (available here, at Amazon) to focus in on the exam requirements.

I’ve been running through the MCM training material that SQL Skills and Microsoft have provided (http://www.sqlskills.com/T_MCMVideos.asp), since that is my end goal!

Next up will be the 70-450 exam sometime in July, which is the first PRO level exam I’ll have done! I would do it sooner, but I’m attending the SQLSkills Immersion course in London in June, and from what I’ve heard that’ll be a little intense. Cool!

And how did I celebrate passing the exam ? With a great friend, Colonel Sanders.

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Well, that’s a mouthful for a title.

I took this exam this afternoon and passed that with 826.

To prepare for it I used the Microsoft Press book (on here at Amazon UK), and also used the Transcender exam.

I found the Transcender exam to be really helpful, and was substantially easier to use than the MeasureUp exam that was supplied with the MS Press exam.

As an aside, I would highly recommend Mass Systems (in Wokingham) for taking certifications as they have decent LCD screens, rather than CRT’s (as at some other providers)..

So I took the SQL Server 2008 Database Developer exam today, and passed (Hooray!!), with 715. It was a close one. I was expecting to do better on that, as I’ve got project experience and went through the Microsoft Press training book on this (here on Amazon UK).

I’ve got the 70-448 SQL Server 2008 BI Development and Maintenance exam in a few weeks time, so I think I’ll get the Transcender exam for that as well.

I took the Configuring Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 exam yesterday and passed.

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It was a comparatively straightforward one, and the experience of working with SharePoint over the past year has greatly helped.

To prepare for the exam, I took the Microsoft eLearning course (5404) which was very useful.