I’ve finally found some down time this weekend to write a few notes about the Microsoft Technology Specialist 70-432 exam for SQL Server 2008: Implementation & Maintenance. I had wanted to do this for some time, but have been very busy recently. My hope is that if you are a SQL Server DBA looking for gain certification by taking the 70-432 exam, that this will help you to prepare. And so, without any further ado, here are my notes for those taking the exam and helpful tips to be successful:
- The Microsoft Press book for 70-432, the MCTS training kit, is essential. The sample tests and the material is spot-on with what you can expect from the test. And beyond just the test, the book does a very good job of explaining concepts that any DBA can find useful in your day-to-day job. Which leads me to point #2 …
- Even the most seasoned SQL Server DBAs typically struggle with their first attempt of the cert. I know SQL Server DBAs that have been at it longer than I have and are better at database administration that I am who scored in the 400-600 range on their first attempt (you need 700 to pass). My first attempt was 661 and I studied for weeks prior to the test. After missing the 700 minimum requirement the first time, I went back to the book & prep tests, went through EVERY QUESTION in the book and the prep test again, and passed the 2nd time 2 weeks later. My bottom line is this: even if you think you know everything about SQL Server 2008 implementation and maintenance, STUDY the prep book and prep tests for several weeks FIRST.
- Study, study, study. As I just explained in #2 above, you may be a drop-dead awesome SQL Server DBA, but you must use material like the book in #1 above to learn about what the testers are looking for. I am also certified as a PMP in project management and I like to use that PMP test as a good example. Just as with the PMP, a certified DBA or project manager is not necessarily a GOOD DBA or project manager! That’s because the cert tests are looking for very specific by-the-book answers that you may have found in practice don’t always work the way that you want or expect. But the tests are testing your book answers, not your specific experience. So try not to get hung-up on answers that you think are not really correct and go by what you read and practiced in the prep tests.
- I can’t do any better at compiling resources to use for your studies than my colleague Buck Woody did at his MSDN blog here. Check it out and don’t assume that you already know it all. Do your work ahead of time. Buck and I are both Microsoft Technology Specialists and I can tell you that I needed to study for hours to pass this exam even though I work with SQL Server every day and have for a number of years.
- Remember, SQL Server is very, very large platform, so make sure that you have an understanding of areas that may seem out of the mainstream for long-time SQL Server DBAs, those that started with SQL Server prior to SQL Server 2008. Things like MDW, PBM and spatial indexes, for example, may be areas that you’ll need to brush-up on.
Best wishes and good luck! – Mark