I passed the 70-448 exam for the MCTS: Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Business Intelligence Development and Maintenance certification this weekend. According to the MCP numbers, I’m now around person #334 certified for this exam. I hope this information helps anyone else preparing for certification.
Exam basics: 50 questions, 120 minutes, 700 passing score
This exam covers Integration Services (SSIS), Analysis Services (SSAS) and Reporting Services (SSRS)
On my exam, all questions were either multiple choice or select the best two answers. I didn’t have any questions that required ordering steps in a process or “select all the correct answers”.
Background: I have 13 years experience in IT and earned my MCDBA on SQL Server 2000 five years ago. I skipped the SQL 2005 certifications, but wanted to add a fresh SQL 2008 certification to my resume now that SQL 2000 is looking pretty old. I’ve worked with SQL Server 2008 since February on a data warehousing team.
Preparation resources: I primarily used the Microsoft Self-Paced Training Kit book along with installing the evaluation edition of SQL Server 2008 on my home PC. The Training Kit book is like other Microsoft Press certification books I’ve read. It’s lacking in details but gives a good overview of the topics. To fill in the details, I used SQL Server Books Online (BOL) along with these reference books:
Professional Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Integration Services
SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services Unleashed
SQL Server 2008 Reporting Services
The Microsoft Training Kit also included a practice exam with 201 questions from MeasureUp on the CD that was in the book. This practice exam was OK, but neither the Training Kit book nor the included practice exam prepared me enough to pass the exam. I purchased a 30-day online subscription to the Transcender practice exams for this certification and the flashcards and three practice exams from Transcender were excellent. However, because this is a low-volume exam, it seems they recycled some material from the SQL 2005 practice exams. The Transcender exams allowed me to focus on the details that were important for the exam and their explanations and references for each question were outstanding as always.
I prepared for about 5 weeks before taking the exam, but I could have used another week to study SSAS which was my weakest subject.
The exam started out very difficult but seemed to get easier as I progressed through the questions. I marked five questions for review and after reviewing those questions I still had 30 minutes to go back and double-check every question on the exam before my two hours was up. I didn’t have any “new format” questions like ordering steps or completing a dialog box but there were quite a few questions where I had to study an exhibit to answer the question.
The questions jumped around from SSAS to SSIS to SSRS instead of ordering the questions in blocks with SSIS first, SSAS second and SSRS third. Sometimes this required me to re-read the question a few times to be sure I was focused on the right topic (was that a SSIS role or a SSRS role?). The exam really seemed to hammer on a few topics and I began to double-guess myself when it seemed like three SSRS questions in a row all should be answered with the same config file name. In the end I passed with an 842 so I am happy to be certifiable. (pun intended) Once my transcript gets updated I plan to order the new certificate for my wall and download the new logo for my resume.
Now I’m going to take some time off and enjoy the summer! Maybe I’ll tackle an Oracle 11g certification in the fall. Good luck to all those preparing for certification…