The Road to SQL Server Certification – Part 2: Progress So Far

In Part 1 of my Road to SQL Server Certification series, I covered a little bit of background on my experience with certifications in general as well as Microsoft’s path for MCSA: SQL Server 2012.

I am currently in the final preparation and studying stages for, in my opinion, the most difficult exam in the series, the third in the series, 70-463: The Widowmaker…er, Implementing a Data Warehouse with SQL Server 2012.  That’s what I meant, but more on that in a little bit.

My SQL Server 2012 certification journey started with 70-462: Administering Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Databases.  In my opinion, this is the most natural starting point for someone with a strong IT background, whereas 70-461: Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012 is the most natural starting point for someone with a strong development background.  But then again, the indexing T-SQL topics covered on 461 are helpful to know going into 462, but I digress…

70-462: Administering Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Databases was my first experience with a SQL certification exam.  I was about a 1/3 complete studying for the equivalent SQL 2008 version of this exam when the 70-462 beta was released.  In recent years, Microsoft has performed fewer and fewer public beta exams, but if you ever get the opportunity to take one, and know something of the subject material, I highly recommend it!  Essentially, Microsoft offers the exam(s) for free for a limited number of time and seats.  The exam you take is similar to what the final version will be, but longer and with rougher edges.  If you pass it, you get credit for having passed the final version without spending a dime, and if you don’t, at least you have an idea of what the final version will likely be like.

I took the beta version of 70-462 as my first exam.  They don’t tell your your score on these, in fact, they mail you the results a number of agonizing weeks later, but I know I didn’t pass.  I feel like I failed it pretty badly.  It was a much more difficult exam than I’d anticipated.

Months later, with all of the final versions released to the public, I decided to try again, this time starting with 70-461: Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012 instead.  I had two reasons for changing tactics:  1) Microsoft numbered it lower, probably for a reason, so I should take their advice and start here.  And most importantly, 2.) one of the resources I really like to use to learn for an exam, CBT Nuggets, had just released their 70-461 videos and the 70-462 and 70-463 videos were in production, but not yet released.  So, my plan was now to take 70-461 then 70-462, and finally 70-463.

In my journey so far, I’ve successfully completed 70-461 and 70-462 and am getting ready to take 70-463 before the year is out.  In the next part of this series, I’ll talk about the 70-461 exam itself and my experiences preparing for and sitting it.

[ Go back to Part 1 | Go forward to Part 3 ]