study methods.

  • winston Smith


    Points: 19484

    Im studying for the 70-432 exam but its taking me ages. i guess my main problem is there are many technologies and topics that i dont use regularly or at all in the book so although i read about them and do an example or two, the info falls out of my head in a week or two as its not being regularly used.

    I spend about 1-2 hours a day doing sample tests on a legit microsoft site, but im not sure how much benifit this is. I see folks taking an exam in as little as 5 weeks after purchasing the study material.

    im currently studying for about 2-3 months now and still not confident enough to do the 432 exam. how do you guys effectively study and how much time do you put in per day/week?

    Im hoping to use your techniques to divise a study schedule and method to allow me to take this exam by the end of July ( cant study at all in June as its fiscal year end at work and crazy busy).

  • alistair.haslett


    Points: 10

    I sympathise with your problem. To be honest while you’re working it probably will take you months to do each course. Those people who do them in a few weeks are probably between jobs / studying at work / being sent on courses / have an IQ of 9 million!

    I’ve done 11 MS exams thus far and the only way that works for me is:-

    1) Read a book on the course material. This can take months, and as you say if you’re not using it you won’t remember everything at the end.

    2) Buy some practice exams. There are various companies that do these. They’re expensive but worth it. You’ll probably fail the practice first time. And second time. But as you fail you’ll learn what you’re weak at and can go back and study it again. This is the bit you really need to do in a short period of time, so you don’t forget it again. I usually book my exam 2-3 weeks ahead, usually just after buying the practice exams, which forces me to get on with it.

    3) Take the exam. So long as you can pass the practice exams by then you should be okay! 🙂

    Good luck!

  • SimonD-978595

    Mr or Mrs. 500

    Points: 588

    I have mixed feelings about the exams. I am interested to know why you are taking it. Is this to enhance your career, for personal reasons, more pay, a promotion or some other reason?

    My 2 cents is that experience counts a whole lot. For someone to "bone up" on a particular subject, pass the exam, forget the material and then say they have MCP XX or whatever doesn't really mean a whole lot. I have worked in many companies where people do this but they can't debug or assemble the most basic things.

    Not to pour water on what you are doing, I think you deserve credit for wanting to better yourself but my advice would be to work on gaining the experience necessary to cover the revision topics and then once you have this experience under your belt you can let the certifications take care of themselves.

    Some of the best people I know don't have two certifications to rub together!

    Regards and best of luck.


  • winston Smith


    Points: 19484

    Thanks for the advice guys. I have indeed read the 70-432 MS training book and its absolute tripe. tons of mistakes and what not. but i read it anyway.

    Im now taking the test exams from a legit Microsoft Preparation site. i might think about getting trancender but im gona stick with the ones i have at the mo as they come free with my job and are pretty good.

    With regards to why im doing this, there are a few reasons:

    1. Im not gona learn about new features and areas of sql server through my role so Its a way of seeing whats out there for a DBA , whats important to know and get me started on the various topics so i can learn more.

    2. its a big thing with work to get the exams and really a big boost in your career performance review's. this leads to promotion and more money... im not in this totally for the love of databases you know;-)

    3. I eventually want to get into pure database administration. I do some examples and what not on my own computer, but the exams are a good way to see what i should be doing, learning and trying to master. i know i wont get a dba role based on exams, in fact i wouldnt like that. A Paper DBA is a dangerous thing, and i like to be able to do a job before i apply for it. The exams give me a starting point though, an index if you will of the most essential knowledge i should know, and a jumping off point.

  • cppwiz

    Hall of Fame

    Points: 3976

    Have you seen this new book? The Real MCTS SQL Server 2008 Exam 70-432 Prep Kit

    There are also free SQL Server Virtual Labs that you can use to practice on certain topics.

    You didn't say what kind of test server you have, but I find that performing the exercises in the book on my test SQL Server at home really helps me remember the material. Taking sample exams doesn't help me remember the material at all, but it does help with budgeting the time for the exam and focusing on the key points in each question.

    When I take sample exams, I keep a notepad on my desk to write down the topics for the questions I missed. Then I go to BOL and other sources to research the topics. Then before taking the next exam, I review my notes to refresh my memory on the topics I missed. Since I always plan to get to the testing center an hour early, I also review this notepad before taking the actual exam. It helps build my confidence.

    The best way to accomplish your goal is to schedule the exam. Then you have a target date and you can budget your time. You will never be fully ready and confident. Accept this fact of life. You can always reschedule the exam at least 24 hours before the date if you really need more time.

    As for the "paper DBA" concerns, don't worry about it. The certification will show that you are ambitious and can take the initiative to improve your own skills if you properly explain your certification journey during the interviews/reviews. There are so many people that just wait for "experience" to come to them. You are seeking it out and spending your free time (and presumably money) to improve your skills. You are already pulling away from the pack and distinguishing yourself as a person who can get things done. Get going and pass that exam!

  • cppwiz

    Hall of Fame

    Points: 3976

    Duplicate post

  • Smarties

    Right there with Babe

    Points: 778

    I also have several Microsoft certifications under my belt. I sit these exams to get closure. As soon as I pass the exam, I can start with a new one.

  • winston Smith


    Points: 19484

    Smarties (7/1/2009)

    I also have several Microsoft certifications under my belt. I sit these exams to get closure. As soon as I pass the exam, I can start with a new one.

    Well done you, but how many certs you have is not my question! im sure there are many folks here with dozens of certs. its the method of study you use that im interested in!

    Thanks everyone for the great replies though, il continue with the test exams im currently using and try go get the exam booked for sometime in August so I have a deadline.

  • ChrisMoix-87856


    Points: 7288

    Your best method of study will depend a lot on how you learn. Some people have to do the exercises, etc. some do not. For me, the best way to study is to read everything I can get my hands on - books, blogs,, etc.

    I took and passed the 70-431 exam without ever having touched a SQL Server 2005 box. I just read the books and visualized everything. That, along with my previous experience (SQL Server 6.0 to 2000) was enough.

    Think about how you really learn and try to tailor a method based on that. I think that there are even some learning style tests out on the web - try google.

    BTW. If it is relevant, I have passed 17 MS certification exams, going back to NT3.51 and SQL Server 6.5. MCP, MCSE, MCDBA, MCTS MCITP (and a couple of other vendor exams that I'd rather forget about).

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