Recently I passed my first Microsoft Exam. After lots of time studying, tinkering and practising I can now say I’ve passed exam 70-461: Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012/2014.
For those looking to take exams you might find my “study mix” helpful. I’m not going to divulge what was on the exam but what I would say is that you need to be prepared and you really, really need to know your T-SQL right from the knowledge about how and why queries work to how you write them.
- Courses – I attended a course in Leeds, West Yorkshire provided by a company called QA Ltd. They provided a service they call “certification in a box” which is: the course, a voucher for the corresponding Microsoft labs for 14 days, a voucher for a MeasureUp practice exam for 180 days and a voucher to take the final exam. The instructors were very knowledgeable and I thoroughly enjoyed the courses as well as learning a lot.
- Training Books – My humble beginnings in SQL were from Sam’s Teach Yourself SQL in 10 Minutes a Day but for this exam you need something far heavier. Microsoft Press have a book written specifically for those taking exam 70-461. Just a word a of caution: don’t take the included practice exam as a good measure of what the real exam is like. Microsoft Press even event spelt ‘training’ wrong on the CD label.
- Practice Exams – The course from QA provided a practice exam from MeasureUp. Again, I’m not going to let you in on the exam content but this practice exam isn’t exactly what you should expect for the real thing. It was great for learning as it does provide explanations of why an answer was wrong.
- Experience – As I mentioned above you really need to know the practicalities of how SQL works. If you can do it under pressure in your job you can do it in an exam (which is less pressure!).
- Lab – As a keen target archer I found inspiration to build a database on a PC at home. This gave me a great example of how to build an eventually query data from it without regurgitating examples.
Lastly a word about “braindumps”. Don’t. That’s all you need to know bout them.
My next exam will be 70-462: Administering SQL Server 2012/2014 and then followed by Exam 70-411 to hopefully earn an MCSA in SQL Server.