I wanted to write up a post about passing my exam, and share everything I learned during this process. I had considered drawing parallels between the certification process and the levels Jedi go through on their way to becoming masters. I think I’m going to keep that one in my back pocket for a while and just put some thoughts out there on this exam.
As you already know I have attempted this exam before. I was nervous during that first exam, there were a ton of unknowns to me. I didn’t know exactly how the questions were going to be asked. Sure I had spent two months reading the MCTS Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-433): Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008 – Database Development and taking the practice questions included on the CD.
But the types of questions they asked weren’t all on the exam. I had struggled with the drag query clauses into order, so they create the T-SQL for a certain type of query. Luckily, those weren’t on the exam. I also struggled with the choose 2,3, or 4 options, and if you don’t get all of it right, you end up with no credit for the question. Those were on there.
After failing the first attempt, I was upset with myself. I felt that after more than a decade of experience, I still wasn’t ready. Even though I teach, help on #sqlhelp, experts-exchange, and via direct emails. My solutions worked in the real world, why wasn’t I good enough to pass?
After I let all that sweep by me, I concentrated on the mental notes I took during the exam. Let me say right here, if you fail the exam, still get your results sheet, even though it takes 15 – 30 minutes to retrieve after your exam completes. That sheet will show you where you need the most improvement, at least according to the exam you just took. I never got my first results… I was so hopped up on adrenaline, I went back to work instead.
Mentally I had noted, I needed to study XML more, CTEs more, and MERGE more. So I started a blog series on XML. I followed all the BOL material, book material, and notes from SQL Saturdays I could lay my hands on. I summarized all this, and wrote it several times. Repetition can be a powerful tool in learning.
I found more example questions online, and took more practice tests.
I created flash cards for some of the common clauses for the T-SQL I kept missing on practice exams. I would read through these 2-3 times a week cramming the best I could on these queries I kept messing up.
After a month, I took the test again… And I passed! It could be my nerves were a lot more calm the second time around. It could be that I only missed passing by a couple questions the first time. But either way I passed!
If you have no certifications, and you want to get your first, here’s an idea. Pay for your exam, get the free re-take offer. And just go in and take the test. Work through your nerves. If you don’t pass the first time, look at the areas marked for improvement. Study by repetition and then re-test when you are strongest in those areas where you were weak before. It will all come together…just like it did for Daniel-San.
Tell me about your experience with certification. Have you passed? Did you fail? Are you worried about passing? Let’s talk about it below!