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Preparing for and taking exam 70-462 (Administering Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Databases)

Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): SQL ServerOne of my goals is to become a Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert: Business Intelligence. I decided to start from scratch and take the three exams required for Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): SQL Server 2012 to learn as much as possible. I passed exam 70-461 (Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012) in January and I passed exam 70-463 (Implementing a Data Warehouse with Microsoft SQL Server 2012) in April. I decided to take exam 70-462 (Administering Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Databases) last. I passed in May :)

Preparing for the exam
Studying for the 70-461 (Querying) and 70-463 (Data Warehouse) exams was mainly about learning new 2012/2014 features and learning features I had not used as much in real projects. Studying for the 70-462 (Administering) exam was a completely different experience because I had to learn most of it from scratch.

Since I had recently got a Pluralsight subscription, I decided to start by watching the three SQL Server 2012 Database Administration (70-462) courses by Sean McCown (@KenpoDBA / @MidnightDBA). It is a great introduction and I absolutely recommend these courses for anyone new to the world of SQL Server database administration. (Tip: Increase the speed slightly to get through videos faster.)

After that I decided to focus on one objective at the time based on the skills measured:

  • Install and configure
  • Maintain instances and databases
  • Optimize and troubleshoot
  • Manage data
  • Implement security
  • Implement high availability

For each objective, I first did the corresponding module in Administering Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Jump Start on Microsoft Virtual Academy to see what they focused on and to watch demos. (Again, increase the speed slightly to get through videos faster.) Then I worked through the corresponding chapters in the Training Kit book and answered all the quick check questions, lesson review questions, and case scenarios out loud to myself. Then I did the corresponding Exam Prep questions that came with the Training Kit book by using the Custom Mode. For each question I got wrong or that I didn’t know the answer to, I did more research online.

Since the Pluralsight courses, Training Kit book, Exam Prep questions and Jump Start course were released before SQL Server 2014, I made sure to read up on What’s New in SQL Server 2014 as well.

Finally, I watched this prep video:

Taking the exam
After signing in at the test center and sitting down in front of the computer, The Pearson Vue software crashed with a critical error and communications failures. No, it was not a part of the exam ;) I had to leave the room and wait for the employees at the test center to resolve the errors. (At least they had unlimited coffee and snacks!) Apparently the crashes happened after a software update the previous week, and there were some firewall issues as well. I found it quite amusing that a test center rolled out software upgrades that hadn’t been properly tested, and that this happened during an administration exam so I could watch how real administrators dealt with the issues :D After about an hour they had fixed the issues and I could start my exam.

The exam itself consisted of 50 questions and I had 120 minutes to finish. Some were simple questions with one correct answer, some were multiple-choice, some were drag-and-drop where you had to match answers to correct alternatives, some were drag-and-drop where you had to choose a certain number of steps or code snippets and place them in the correct order, and some were questions where you had to interact with a GUI and select the correct settings and options.

Like the previous 70-461 and 70-463 exams, I enjoyed the different kinds of questions. Some questions were really difficult, especially the ones where I had to place steps in the correct order or select all the appropriate answers and I didn’t know how many to pick. Was that step first or second? Did I remember everything? It was easy to second-guess myself, but re-reading the questions thoroughly helped. Part of the exam is to find the keywords in the questions that will help you find the correct answer, and I often started by figuring out which alternatives were obviously wrong.

As soon as you end your exam you will see your score and if you pass or fail. Good luck on your exam! :)

About the Author

Cathrine Wilhelmsen is a Microsoft Data Platform MVP, BimlHero Certified Expert, Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert, international speaker, author, blogger, and chronic volunteer who loves teaching and sharing knowledge. She works as a Senior Business Intelligence Consultant at Inmeta, focusing on Azure Data and the Microsoft Data Platform. She loves sci-fi, chocolate, coffee, craft beers, ciders, cat gifs and smilies :)


Hi! This is Cathrine. Thank you so much for visiting my blog. I'd love to hear your thoughts, but please keep in mind that I'm not technical support for any products mentioned in this post :) Off-topic questions, comments and discussions may be moderated. Be kind to each other. Thanks!

Thank you for sharing your experience, I am prep462aring for 70-462. My question is do we need to buy the toolkit book from Microsoft or watching plurasight and some youtube videos will enough. Thanks!

It depends on how much real and practical experience you have with administering SQL Server databases. I had very little experience and I would not have passed the exam without working through the Training Kit book. However, if you are a DBA and work with these things daily, then it might be enough to just watch the videos that are available.

Thank youv:)


Have you any suggestions on 70-467 training materials?
Just passed the 466 and looking for completing the MCSE BI cert path,
before starting with Data Platform.

Hi Dimitri, I haven’t taken exams 70-466 or 70-467 myself, so I don’t have any advice to share. Good luck!


I am also going to take 70-462 exam. :) what is the minimum passing score out of 50 question? And is there any similarity between in type of question came in real exam with the practice test in exam toolkit book?

The passing score on Microsoft exams is usually 700/1000. All questions are weighted differently, though, so 700/1000 does not mean that you need to get 70% of the questions correct. I found the practice test in the exam toolkit useful, but they are not the same as on the exam.

I have been researching on exam 461 – 463. It looks like it’s very possible to pass 461 given enough time. What’s your feel on 462 and 463 for someone who doesn’t have the equivalent work experience as a supplement.

I absolutely recommend real-life experience before you take exams 70-462 and 70-463. If you’re not able to get real-life experience, make sure you get plenty of hands-on experience. It is not enough to simply read books for these exams.

I passed the exam today. The exam cd that comes in the back of the book is nowhere near enough training to pass. I paid for a second practice exam from pearson vue and it helped big time. The most important think is to not only know the answer but know why that is the answer. I know it sounds trivial, but when you have a true understanding, it will help you big time on the test. Biggest advice I can give, if there is an area you feel that your knowledge is not solid, practice it in a lab environment.

Hi Catherine,
Congratulations on your MCSA success. I can see that you have a BI background and I guess you did not have prior DBA knowledge? I myself is a report developer more precisely I am a query artist. So it’s been about three years I have been thinking to go for MCSA but I get daunted by the Exam 70-762 as because I have no interest or knowledge of DBA at all. Programming is something I feel more home at as I am a Maths greduate from here in UK therefore, I have been into programming ethos for a while. I am seeking your opinion on whether you think exam 70-762 can be passed without work experience. Kind regards
John Amin

I’ve only started studying the 70-462 material in the last 2 weeks, I began with reading the training kit but the nature of the material makes it a little too dry to get your teeth into. This is where video courses really help get you into the material and lay the foundation of the knowledge required.

I second Catherine’s recommendation of working through the PluralSight course by Sean McCown as he has a hands-on approach whereby you’ll be opening up SQL Management Studio and actively working through examples, and if you go over the methods enough, it will help reinforce the new knowledge and your lack of DBA work experience won’t matter as much ala the saying, “Practice, Practice, Practice!”. If you’re not on PluralSight, you can sign up for a 10-day free trial, once the trial has finished, I recommend paying for at least one month’s subscription… Strange thing is you can come back a few months later and get another free trial!

Thanks Fiachra

I just Passed the 70-462 exam, Catherine recommendations are really useful, but at least from my perspective you really need hands-on experience to have a good chance on successfully passing the first try, if not i strongly suggest to buy a multiple retake pack… , both the book and the pluralsight videos are really useful on info not only regarding the exam but for any DBA, but they are not enough by a long shot by themself, many topics just scratch the surface (which is understandable), on each topic do the labs and research on more what not’s and options available for those features.

Hi Catherine, I want to take on exam 70-461 & 70-462. Could you please suggest some Practice stuffs for the exams.

Hi Catherine
Interesting that you did 463 before 462 I passed the 461 exam but only with a 783
Do you recommend i conquer 463 first then 462? I am a DBA but we dont use any high availability or fail over clustering so ill need to implement those at my office and test them
have a lovely week

Hi Kal,

There is a 70-462 training kit that I found helpful, you can prepare six computers for practicing high availability or fail over.

Here is a link where explain you how to prepare the six machines, which is not detailed in the training kit.

Good luck. Hope this help.

Jose Vega

Studying for the 462 now. My in-class instructor had us do 80 hours hands-on training and testing for each of the 461, 462 and 463. He’s an amazing teacher and made SQL a fun exploration.

Where are you taking your class?

Hi! This is Cathrine (again). Just a reminder. I'd love to hear your thoughts, but please keep in mind that I'm not technical support for any products mentioned in this post :) Off-topic questions, comments and discussions may be moderated. Be kind to each other. Thanks!

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