The Road to SQL Server Certification – Part 4: Exam 70-462

With my first SQL Server 2012 exam, 70-461 under my belt, I revisited 70-462 for attempt number two, this time with much more preparation and ultimately much better results.

Exam 70-462: Administering Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Databases is the most DBA-focused exam of the bunch.  It covers everything from setting up and maintaining SQL server to more advanced topics like various methods of failover clustering.

Despite the fact that most people install SQL server before they begin querying it (and hence have experience with 70-462 material before 70-461: Querying SQL Server material), I felt that 70-462 was a more difficult exam than 70-461.  This was likely largely in part due to two things:

  1. A seemingly wider breadth of topic area…more topics is more material to cover
  2. A heavy reliance on enterprise level features which are used in the real world far less frequently than features from lesser editions.  Specifically, brand new features such as AlwaysOn Failover Clustering.

That being said, after a little bit of a break from 70-461, I attacked the preparation for this exam with a methodology and timeline similar to what I’ve used for 70-461 and other exams:

  • Round 1:  Video Training — The CBT Nuggets 70-462 Series, taught by Garth Schulte, were the longest videos of the MCSA series, but still pretty manageable at around 13 hours.  These videos do an excellent job of laying the foundation and covering all of the exam topics in a very demo heavy setting.  Lots of demos on various backup and restore scenarios as well as all of the different fail-over methods were welcome, as these were favorite topics on the exam.
  • Round 2:  Books and Labs — Much like with the 70-461 exam, I found the Microsoft Press book, Training Kit (Exam 70-462) to be incredibly useful.  This Microsoft Press book was well organized and well-written, comes with a PDF version, and comes with a pretty good and exam-relevant bank of electronic sample questions.  In the case of many exams, 3rd party books tend to be better preparation materials than the official Microsoft books (as they can sometimes be quite dry) but the Microsoft books were spot on for this series.Additionally, this exam in particular really lent itself to setting up a virtual environment and performing many of the exercises.  The Microsoft Press book gives a guide to configuring a lab environment on virtual machines which includes an Active Directory domain controller, a couple of SQL Servers running on full GUI windows and a couple of SQL Servers running on Windows Serve Core.  Due to the number of machines involved, visualization is highly recommended.  I had an old server on which I ran VMware ESXi (Free Edition) for my virtual machines, but VMware Player (which can also create VMs) is another great free resource if you don’t have server hardware handy.
  • Round 3:  Practice Tests — Being the oldest of the three exams in the series, 70-462 had a couple of good reputable practice test engines available for use.  As always, the practice questions included with the Microsoft 70-462 Training Kit were an excellent resource.  Additionally, the Transcender Practice Questions were very comprehensive and give excellent explanations as to why an answer choice is right (and why the others are wrong).  A handy bonus of having a corporate CBT Nuggets subscription is that Transcender practice questions are included for free…a handy perk!

Having completed the preparation as well as a little exam familiarity from the beta exam, I was able to complete the exam successfully to wrap up exam number two of three on the path to MCSA: SQL Server 2012.  Now, on to 70-463!

[ Go back to Part 3 | Go forward to Part 5 ]