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I finally sat for 70-431 on Thursday. I know, I am at least a year behind everyone else. There is not as much emphasis placed on keeping certs current at my law firm job. It would be a different story if I worked in consulting.   


Anyway, it seems I am always busy working on articles and presentations. The other thing is that my first enterprise system was upgraded to SQL Server 2005 in August. I really felt that I should have some substantial on the job experience with the product before taking the test. Finally, I received a free voucher in mid-November that would expire on Dec. 31st.  So, after completing some other commitments, I concentrated on studying for the exam.


The thing that bothers me about the certifications is that I think most people have to study in order to pass. I can’t imagine that anyone really has job related experience in everything that the exam covers.  It seems to me that you should be able to work with the product for a period of time and then just be able to pass the exam based on your experience.  Maybe some people can do it – not sure I can, though.


On the drive to the exam, I remembered there was talk of exams that would ask questions based on how well you asked the last one. I had this scary thought of being asked a question about XQUERY syntax and, of course, getting it wrong. Then the exam engine just giving me 30 or 40 XML related questions in a row. Luckily, my worst fears were unfounded. 


Of course I can’t talk about any of the questions, even if I could remember them.  I do think that they were very well written and less confusing than any of the previous MS tests I have taken.  During the test, I had no doubt that I was doing well.  Many things about SQL Server haven’t changed from 2000 to 2005. For example, the steps to restore a database to a point in time are the same.  So, it is possible that this test was really testing my experience, not just how well I could try to learn about all the features I haven’t used yet like Database Mirroring and Service Broker.


This exam actually gave me a numeric score at the end. For quite awhile, we were only getting back a pass or fail. After seeing my score and that it was much higher than the required score, I realized that you don’t have to know everything to pass the exam. Just like real life at work, you will not become proficient in every aspect of SQL Server. The important thing is that I know I don’t know everything. I know that I can look at BOL, or do a search at SSC or Google to find answers.  I can experiment. Things will go wrong; I will learn even more when they do.     


Advice from Aunt Kathi

Kathi Kellenberger is a Sr. Consultant with Pragmatic Works. She is an author, speaker and trainer.


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