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MCITP: 3 Down 1 To Go

Despite my desire to do one exam a week in pursuit of the MCITP Certifications for DBA and Developer in SQL 2008, other things came up that have slowed me down considerably.  It was only today that I realized that it has been one month since the last exam that I took.  No single event is at the root of this delay – there are multiple.

As you can presume based on the title, I passed another exam.  The latest exam was 70-450.  I have mixed feelings about this exam.  I also wish I could elaborate extensively concerning these feelings, but will not be able to without violating the NDA.  I will however, be able to discuss some of the concerns since I do not feel they pertain to the NDA.

First impression from the exam came within the first couple of questions.  That impression was that this exam really has less to do with technical skill than I think it should.  I felt that I was doing a lot of interpreting and extrapolating in order to derive a plausible answer.  Much of this was due to the poor grammar and incomplete sentences demonstrated throughout the exam.  Some of it was just due to assumptions one had to make concerning the scenario.

Second impression is that the exam cares less about the correct answer than trying to trip you up.  In doing this, there is a correct answer for the exam and then there is the real world correct answer.  I had heard this sentiment from others who had taken the exam and hadn’t given it a whole lot of thought until I was in the middle of my exam and I started to see a pattern.  There were a couple of questions that had no correct answer based on the question.

There is also an opinion out there that this exam tests you on what was in BOL at the writing of the exam – despite much of that information being recognized as incorrect now.  This leads me to my third impression.  This exam is more about memorization and finding obscure entries in BOL that may or may not be correct.

All of that said, despite those obvious problems surrounding this second tier of exams for the SQL 2008 track – the exam is passable and really not too terribly difficult.  I had expected it to be more in-depth.  I would also say that it is due to these problems that there should be some sort of Certification between the MCITP and MCM.  That notion was started some time ago – and I feel there is more validity to it now than there was one year ago.

All of that said, I hope to be finishing up with these exams next week when I take 70-451.  Then I will someday move on to complete the BI exams.  I may also post a short little study guide to cover some of the topics covered in 70-450.


Posted by Stephen LaRochelle on 28 June 2011

Congrats on the pass!  Of course minding the NDA; comparing the admin track exams (432/450) to the dev exam (433) you took, which track seems to more accurately represent what a typical DBA/Dev might run into in a given day?  Or which do you feel was the best exam?  I'm fairly confident I'll pass 453 soon (DBA upgrade to 2008 from 2005).  I'd like to do the dev side too, but I'm not much of a developer...

Posted by Jason Brimhall on 28 June 2011

Frankly, I don't think these exams mimic very well what a DBA/DEV may run into in a given day.  The line has been blurred too much.  There is just too much gray area between the subjects in todays workplace to clearly delineate.

That said, I think the dev track has been more closely related than the Admin track.  Or at least the questions have been better and provide a better assessment of skill.

Posted by Steve Jones on 28 June 2011

Congrats on the pass. I think that these more beginning exams that give an MCP seem to be geared more towards pushing you to learn a particular feature than solve problems. It's a different focus, but it does force you to look at those features.

Posted by Jason Brimhall on 28 June 2011

Good point Steve.

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