One 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! :)