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Delayed gratification

Call me odd, but I enjoy taking certification tests.  It may be that I've always tested well, or perhaps it's that I enjoy a challenge, but for whatever reason I have always looked forward to sitting for exams.  So when the opportunity arose to take a beta exam for the SQL Server 2008 business intelligence components, I signed up as soon as I could.

I admit that I took the exam cold, only having worked with SQL Server 2008 beta a dozen times or so.  I've been studying for the SQL Server 2005 BI exams, and my thought was that a free pass at the 2008 beta test would be a good study tool for me.  I spent almost 2 hours in front of the terminal, using what information I knew from experience (mostly on SQL Server 2005) and making educated guesses for the rest.  All went well until I reached the end of the exam - you know, the point at which your pulse races just a bit as you wait for the "You Passed" or "You Failed" message.  Imagine my surprise when neither of these was shown, but rather I received a "Thanks For Playing, We'll Get Back To You" message.  Specifically, the message indicated that the results of the beta exam would be delivered to me via mail in 90 days or so.  Yes, that's mail as in paper and envelopes and stamps, right here in the midst of the digital age [Suggestion to Microsoft: Save some cash - post the results on my MCP record and send me an e-mail when it's ready].

I've never taken a Microsoft beta exam before, so I don't know if this is status quo for these types of tests.  Even though certifications have gotten a bad rap lately, I still believe that, when properly administered, certification programs can still offer some measure of a person's willingness and ability to succeed on a particular software component or career track.  And as one who intends to continue to pursue certifications pertinent to my skillset, I have a vested interest in helping to make the SQL Server certification track as relevant as possible, so I am glad that I participated in this trial.  However, I have to admit - and yes, it's probably a little selfish - that I'm not sure I would have been so eager to participate if I'd known that I would have to wait months for any kind of hint as to how I performed on the exam.

So here are my questions.  First of all, is the delayed response common to all Microsoft exams, and second, is this a deterrent to other potential beta exam test-takers?

Tim Mitchell

Tim Mitchell is a business intelligence consultant, author, trainer, and Microsoft Data Platform MVP with over thirteen years of data management experience. He is the founder and principal of Tyleris Data Solutions.

Tim has spoken at international and local events including the SQL PASS Summit, SQLBits, SQL Connections, along with dozens of tech fests, code camps, and SQL Saturday events. He is coauthor of the book SSIS Design Patterns, and is a contributing author on MVP Deep Dives 2.

You can visit his website and blog at TimMitchell.net or follow him on Twitter at @Tim_Mitchell.


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