Slow slog

Once again, I got distracted by other things and put off studying.

Earlier this week, I enlisted some friends to help me stay on track. I set a goal of taking the 70-461 exam by the end of January.

Considering that I was still on chapter 2 of a 17 chapter book, that might be a bit too ambitious, but I can always reevaluate in a couple weeks.

Microsoft “toolkit” books for certain exams are only sort of prep for the exams. The authors don’t have access to the exams and the exams aren’t written to the books* – like a final exam for a course might be.

The Microsoft exams are aimed at people who have been working with the software for a couple of years. That strikes me as a bit odd – that you’d expect someone to work with something before knowing that they won’t break it.

The books are written in a way that generally meets the goals of the tests, though. The authors seem to work from Microsoft’s list of “skills measured” by the test.

I’m finding that some of the material is very easy for me, and other parts aren’t. That’s good because I can’t get cocky about what I know.

I’m also using Joes2Pros SQL Server 2012 book 1

I’m going to use the blog to put “notes” from what I’m learning.

*All learning materials related to exams, including Microsoft training and Microsoft Press resources, are developed independently of exam content, because the exams are intended to assess competence when using the technology, not the effectiveness of training materials or learning. Qualified candidates must have sufficient experience in working with the technology to pass the exam. Training is a great first step in preparing for a Microsoft Certification exam, but it is not required and does not guarantee that you will pass the exam. Experience is required.

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MTA Exam 98-364 Prep

I took the exam on June 27 and passed with an 85%.

Probably could have done better if I’d waited another week, but, it’s a pass.

I used the MOAC (Microsoft Official Academic Course) for the exam. There were some bad reviews of it, but since I am pretty new to SQL, I found it helpful.

I watched the MVA videos and downloaded the powerpoints. I didn’t really find that as helpful. There was some information that I could use. I think the best part was when they used SQL Server Management Studio, so I could see how it’s used.

I bought a practice test from MeasureUp, and took the GMetrix one that came with the MOAC.

Some of the questions in the practice tests were very similar to about half a dozen of the test questions.

Taking the tests in study mode gave me an opportunity to do research. Lots of questions were not explicitly covered in the MOAC, so I had to search for some answers online, In study mode, though, you can check your answers (very helpful) and allowed me to add to my notes.

I took a lot of handwritten notes from the MOAC and the practice tests.

The test is only about 35 questions. The testing environment is pretty intense. You can’t take anything into the room with you, and they have a camera on you at all times to prevent cheating. You find out immediately what your score is, and get a printout to bring home. It only took a couple of days to get an official email with my credential number and then I could order a certificate.

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Too excited to be able to use this official logo in my emails!

I was so excited to get the certification and the logo.

I had intended to write stuff as I was learning it, but handwriting the notes hurt my wrist and I didn’t have the energy to also type them all up.

But I still have the handwritten notes and it won’t hurt to write them in a neater way and be able to look them up later.

Focusing on the first test

In my post titled Learning, I talked about beginning to study for the MTA 98-364 test.

I started out trying to take the practice tests on MeasureUp.com without enough preparation. I took them in “study mode” since that I way I could see answers and take notes. I was only scoring 50-60% at first, and I knew it was because I wasn’t really prepared.

I took notes from the test questions and started to get better scores but still didn’t really feel like I have a handle on anything.

I finally actually started going through the main book I’m using and taking notes. I read the reviews for the book, and many say the book doesn’t help much, but I am finding it fairly helpful.

It’s filling in some gaps in my knowledge, especially because I’m such a beginner. But there are some frustrations.  There are questions at the end of each chapter. But I have no way of knowing if my answers are correct. I could not get access to any materials from the publisher because I’m not in school or an instructor.

I found two fairly decent study sources online that have the same questions, but the answers on both sites don’t always agree with each other and on a couple questions, I’m pretty sure they’re just plain wrong.