The joys of getting certified


For whatever reason in my career so far I’ve never HAD to take any Microsoft certification exams.  A few times I was planning to but my job’s primary requirements of me put that to the back burner.  I suspect like a lot of people in the technology industry we’ve learnt from experience, Googling what we needed to know when we needed to know and never worried too much about things we never think we’re likely to need to know.

Now, in my current job at Attenda I get study leave, time off where I get to sit at home and study.  That sounds great doesn’t it?  Well it is.  So this week I’m actually reading my 70-432 (SQL Server 2008 admin) book and am amazed at the following:

  • unless you use SQL Server day in day out you probably don’t realise just how many nice features and deep capabilities there are now
  • how you sometimes have always done things may get the job done but there’s probably a new way that’s easier, simpler, better, more preferred these days
  • reading a book knowing you’re going to be tested on your interpretation of what was in it is quite scary


It’s something I can recommend a few days into my learning experience, its obviously achievable as thousands do it, I just hope a few more days and weeks as I get nearer to the exam I’m still as enthusiastic!

I’ll save my thoughts about the proof reading of the book I’m using for another post…


6 thoughts on “The joys of getting certified

  1. Richard Douglas

    Hi Gavin,

    I used exactly the same book to pass my 70-432 exam earlier this year. There are one or two things that it didn’t quite prepare me for but it’s pretty damn close.

    I’m now reading the sister book for 70-433 (Database Design) after passing 70-450 last weekend, for that I used the Tom Carpenter book alongside BOL.

    I’m not sure how good the 70-433 book is going to be especially when the author said that “table variables are stored in memory” 😦


    1. gavinpayneuk Post author

      Hi Richard,

      You’re right, some of the things in the book I’m reading are shocking and make me wonder about the overall quality. I’m sensitive to the fact Christian and Justin contributed to the book I’m currently reading but I know they wouldn’t have been involved in the pieces which made me cringe.

      The things which worries me is that I find errors in the sections where I do know something about the content (RAID, database mirroring mostly) so when I read sections that are new to me (policy-based management for example) can I trust all the little nooks and crannies in the text? On top of that, some of the typos in the book are so obvious you wonder if it was actually proof read.

      Which overall is sad, I bought that book rather than the official Microsoft text as I didn’t want the long winded approach their books take, but instead I get something which has gems of content in it, sadly hidden away somewhere.

  2. Christian Bolton

    Hi Gavin,

    It was certainly a “unique” experience working on that book and I think the whole project was rather rushed and lacked any sort of leadership (certainly from where I was sitting).

    I can hold my hand up for Chapter 3 and will take any criticism for that content but I didn’t see any of the other chapters until the book came out unfortunately; I didn’t even know who else was writing on it until it was published.

    The lesson for me there was that all publishers are not created equal! 🙂

    Good luck with the exams!


    1. gavinpayneuk Post author

      Thanks Christian.

      I found a blog posting by Buck Woody on the MSDN when he was taking the exam, he took an interesting approach of just using the MSDN books online and making notes from there. Stupidly, it never occured to me that the exam content is sat within BOL, and that a big book maybe overkill for someone used to SQL Server, just not familiar with the latest terms etc.

      Buck Woody’s 70-432 blog post

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