Ever since I started working with Microsoft SQL Server, I have heard and read a lot about the coveted “Microsoft Certified Professional” status. I had yet to get my first certification even after working with SQL Server for the last 7 years. As the year 2011 dawned, I had made a resolution that no matter what happens I need to pass the entry level MCTS examination 70-432.
As 2011 comes to a close, I am happy to announce that last week, I achieved the MCTS certification!
Today, I will try to summarize my learning and examination experience with all.
I have always enjoyed the preparation phase of any examination – the simple reason being that I never look at things from an examination perspective. I always look at the preparation as an opportunity to learn new things.
Microsoft Learning has identified a great set of preparation materials on the examination’s home page – http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/exam.aspx?id=70-432. Because of the work schedule, the self-paced training kit was the best option for me, and therefore, I bought a copy of the book – “MCTS Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-432): Microsoft® SQL Server® 2008 – Implementation and Maintenance” by Mike Hotek (Microsoft | Amazon | Flipkart).
TIP: For those in India, make sure you get the “Eastern Economy Edition” when ordering it online.
As I mentioned, I have been working with SQL Server for quite some time now, and therefore, did not go through the complete prescribed reading syllabus. Apart from backup-restores, I have not had real-time, practical exposure on Disaster Recovery plans & techniques. So, as soon as I got the book, I started reading up on the areas to which I only had a cursory exposure.
TIP: Online resources are one of the best resources that can help in the preparations. Apart from the online resources listed on the examination’s home page, make sure you subscribe to blogs and newsletters of stalwarts like Pinal Dave (SQLAuthority.com), Vinod Kumar (Extreme Experts), Jacob Sebastian (BeyondRelational.com), and SQLServerCentral.com. Even outside of the preparations , these are some of the blogs & newsletters I read daily and find them to be enriched with knowledge & information.
That’s pretty much it. The end of the year was fast approaching, and after 6 months of slowly reading selected sections of the book, I decided to give the examinations a go!
The examinations for Microsoft certifications are conducted through a network of authorized test centers operated by Prometric. One can go to their web-site, search for a convenient test center location, pay online and schedule an examination on a date of their choice. The online registration process is simple and smooth.
I reached the examination centre about 45 minutes before the scheduled time (they require you to come at least 30 minutes before time), and the check-in process was immediately started. They already knew I was coming, and I was given a couple of forms and non-disclosure agreements to sign on. I was required to produce 2 forms of photographic identifications (passport & driver’s license are the most common) and all pockets were to be emptied. All personal belongings need to go into a standard locker, and therefore, they recommend that one should not bring backpacks or any other oversized item to the test center.
After the sign-in process, I was given a set of 2 erasable boards, marker pens and was explained the examination process by a very kind and patient test administrator. I was then assigned a cubicle where once again a few terms & conditions were to be accepted. Once done, the test began. Personally, I found no reason to hurry – I was given a time of more than 2 hours to complete the examination. On an average, I had about 3-4 minutes per question and so, I immediately relaxed – I had time to think the questions through.
I finished the examination well within the prescribed time, and was immediately provided an embossed score sheet by the administrator certifying that I had passed the examination! After that, it was time for some feedback forms and that’s it – it was time to go!
The next day, I received an E-mail from Microsoft giving me my very own MCP number and access to the MCP website from where I could view my certificates, download them and even order a print copy if required.
I was officially, MCTS Certified! A new-year resolution was completed by me for the first time!
I found the examination completely practical oriented. If you are going to appear for the exam after only reading through the theory, please do not do so. The secret to clearing the examination is – practice, practice & practice. The questions require you to have faced complex, practical issues in SQL Server implementation, maintenance & administration.
My recommendations would be to read through the theory, and reinforce it with practical experience without fail. The questions and practice exercises within the book are great way to get started on the practical side of the preparation. In addition, go through the content and practice tests in the CD/DVD accompanying the book – the practice tests on the CD/DVD simulate the test environment to a real world level and I strongly recommend that you pass at least 3 consecutive times on the simulated tests before you decide to appear for the exams.
I would recommend that anybody who foresees themselves working on Microsoft technologies should prepare and get themselves Microsoft certifications. The certification has tremendous value. For me, the next step is another MCTS certification (70-433: SQL Server 2008: Database Development), but that would be next year. I am exhausted for now!
Until we meet next time,
Be courteous. Drive responsibly.
Subscribe to my posts via E-mail: Subscribe here | Read my posts via your favourite RSS reader: Click Here!
Congratulations Nakul. It is a reminder to me to follow up with the new year resolutions that I take every year :-).
Well done, congratulations! My self-study book for 70-433 just arrived, I’m looking forward to starting the process.
Thank-you, all for your warm wishes!
@ThatGuyDuncan: Best of luck!
Congratulations!!! Hi Nakul, my name is Tumelo. I am attending training for SQL. And i am currently enjoying sql. I started doing sql frm last year which was my final year for my IT Diploma. I am attending practical classes for my mcts certificate. I would like your advice and some guidence for my exams. I have not yet done alot in the theoratical part. I have the following study materials: Inside Microsoft SQL Server 2008: T-SQL Querying, microsoft SQL server 2008 implementation and maintenance. I have read most theory in microsoft sql server 2008 implementation n maintenance n done the practicals. I have done practicals and they make more sense. Your advice please
Thank-you for your wishes!
It’s great to know that you are enjoying working with Microsoft SQL Server. Certification aside, practice is the key for all of your encounters with SQL Server. So, keep practicing!
Coming to the theoretical aspect of the examination, the books that you are referring to currently are the officially prescribed books, and are more than sufficient. In fact, I find myself referring them after the examinations also. Quite frankly, if you go through the prescribed books and practice all you can using your test environment, you should be able to crack the examinations.
Best of luck!
Do keep us posted on your progress with the certifications. May the power of SQL Server be with you!
I am an Oracle DBA and want to do the MCITP : sqlserver 2008 DBA , I have good experience on using sql server but not much in terms of DBA as i am aware on how to take backups,restore the instance , configuring the sqlserver with mostly default settings…(at home)
can you guide me on how to become an sql server DBA and what all things needs to be prepared to complete the certification
also books for specific to certifications will be helpful
Ajay here again
the book is available without CD can you tell from where i can get the book with CD/DVD or the CD/DVD seperately
Ajay, the Microsoft learning website is the best way to go for learning about SQL Server 2008 ([http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/exam.aspx?id=70-432]).
As for the book with the CD, it is surprising that for the same price as that charged by a few leading online stores, I got a copy from my local dealer with the CD! I suggest that you check out around some prominent colleges and universities in your city – you will find someone that sells books (or can arrange for books from) Microsoft Press. If you live in Ahmedabad, the “Books India” store is the place you would want to go to.
thanks a lot Nakul
For 70-432 we have recommended book by microsoft but for 70-450 I coudn’t find any recommended book
can you help me with some books….
@aksql: While there are no official text book recommendations from Microsoft, you may want to try out reading “*SQL Server 2008 Administration: Real-World Skills for MCITP Certification and Beyond (Exams 70-432 and 70-450)*” by Tom Carpenter. I have not read it myself, but I have seen a lot of recommendations for it on the forums.
thanks a lot dear for the help
Hello Nakul, I live in Canada and im a total newbie to the world of SQL. Although i m certified software tester from ISTQB. Can you please suggest me some good inexpensive books to consider for the certification. I have actually enroll myself for the course in Microsoft SQL Server 2008: Implementation & Maintenance; its a online course and ofcourse they only provide books reference online. But i wanted to prepare from the hardcover.
The book I used to prepare was the recommended MCTS 70-432 training kit ([http://www.amazon.com/MCTS-Self-Paced-Training-70-432-Pro-Certification/dp/0735626057]) from Mike Hotek. Study the concepts from the book, complete the question bank provided with the book and the training exercises and finally the practice tests on the accompanying CD. The exam is all based on practical situations, so the best recommendation would be to practice and digest the concepts.
The following may also provide you with some pointers in preparing for 70-432: [http://www.johnsansom.com/my-guide-to-passing-mcts-exam-70-432/].
Hope it helps! Best of luck!
Thanks a ton buddy..!!!