So, I had made the decision to go for the new certifications. The next decision to be made was which to take first. I looked over the areas of focus for each of the tests some more and decided to go ahead and take the querying exam. It looked relatively easy as querying is something I do on an every day basis.
Feeling a bit like pushing myself I set up the exam for a little bit less than two weeks out. I had a feeling that even if I took it the next day I should be able to pass. However, I didn’t want to waste any time by taking the certification too quickly and having to retake it, so I figured I’d spend just a few hours looking over the books online articles for the materials listed. I also had access to the new Certification Prep Kick from Microsoft Press and figured I might skim through it to fill in a few holes.
Unfortunately for me, my compulsion to do things correctly kicked in after reading a few chapters from the prep kit book the first night and I ended up reading through all of it instead. And I say unfortunately because I can not be kind if asked about this book. It does not do any justice compared to Ben-Gan’s otherwise absolutely stellar books.
The information provided did not seem to go into enough depth to cover the fundamentals for several topics that were listed on the skills for the certification. The code and sample exercises were often repetitive. The depth to which the majority of the topics were covered was much weaker than previous books. The practice tests included did not mimic the real tests in many ways (although I don’t think I can say how since we’re not supposed to talk about what was on the exam). And, I’d say, most importantly, I don’t really think that this book provided enough information for one to read through it, use the practice material, and take the test.
So, all in all I ended up using my previous experience, reading the books online pages for a few topics and reading through the prep kit book. I also took the practice exams that came with the book four times. Overall I think I spent about 20 hours preparing for the exam. At the beginning of the process I had figured I might spend 5, maybe 10.
The morning of the exam I figured that I would be in and out relatively quickly. And, it really wasn’t that long of a process. However, it took me about twice as long as I was expecting: not quite an hour and a half. I’ll leave off discussing any real details about it other than to say that I passed, and that it was a more difficult experience than I thought it would be going in.
So, one test down with at least two more and in all probability six more to go for the year. I’m not certain when I’ll set the next one up for, but more than likely some time next month. I’d like to get the first three knocked out before the end of march as I don’t know how much extra-curricular time I’ll have after that.