Today I passed my exam for MCTS: SQL Server 2008 Database Development. I am by nature quite nervous when I take exams, I don’t know why. With every Microsoft certification I have ever written I have finished the test and questioned whether I have passed prior to the results being displayed. In all cases I have passed reasonably comfortably. I have to admit that the Microsoft Certifications do appear to have gotten more difficult lately, but if you are prepared, you should pass quite easily.
The thing I really want to mention is preparing for this last exam…
I have a lot of past experience with SQL Server and therefore the preparation was a case of making sure that I am familiar with all the recent additions to the database engine. for this I purchased the official training kit (http://www.amazon.com/MCTS-Self-Paced-Training-Exam-70-433/dp/0735626391). Since I have been mostly focused on the BI stack of late, I thought it would be good to read the book cover to cover at first and then re-read and focus on sections I felt were my weakest. In between all this I was taking regular practice exams using the practice exams that came with the book. I have to say that this book and the supplied materials are almost shocking. For the most part, I spent time on websites or BOL to make sure I really understood all the new features. This book has four different authors and it shows! The style of some of the chapters were completely different to others. In some sections, the amount of detail was excruciating, while in others it was so light on detail that further investigation was definitely required. To make matters worse, I found at least four answers in the practice questions that were obviously wrong. That makes you start to question all of them.
I feel that if Microsoft are going to publish training kits, they need to be of a better quality than this. I would still recommend this training kit as one of the tools for preparation as it does outline everything you need to know. Do a lot of further reading on your weak topics and you should be OK. If you are new to SQL and are relying on only study to pass, you’ll need to do a lot more than just study this kit.