Kick-starting my studying

As I blogged about a while ago I’ve just begun studying for my first Microsoft SQL Server exam, 70-432 SQL Server 2008 admin.  I was a typical IT professional who spent far too much time working to step back and do an exam about something I deal with in one way or another everyday.  My annual study leave entitlement changed all of that.  I declared an objective to my manager to take the SQL Server exam, I kind of had an objective, out there somewhere.

After my study leave I realised I learnt more about studying than I did about SQL Server, I learnt these three things:

  • Getting the right materials is key, as I blogged here, the primary book I bought to learn from has errors in it which make angry.
  • You have to have a deadline in order that you actually get things done, not worrying about how many pages there are left in the book to read means you’ll finish it in 2037 when SQL Server’s been replaced by Microsoft bred and trained rodents.
  • You need a system to manage your notes, having a notebook and writing as you learn things doesn’t work when you need to go back and group similar pieces of information or add whole chunks to them when you get to the next chapter.

So, what have I done?  These three things:

  • Booked an exam, earlier than when I think I’m ready for it too.  Right now Microsoft are offering a second-shot exam voucher where if you fail you can re-take for free.  Right now I have no idea if my knowledge is below, above or right on the level Microsoft are looking for.  I’ve also not taken an exam for years.  So even if I fail, I’ll have learnt what the exam is like.
  • I searched around for new learning materials.  Buck Woody’s notes here are a good starting place to learn using Books Online.  I also borrowed the official Microsoft text book as much as I hate their verbose style to see the content for each subject.  I’ve also, rightly or wrongly, downloaded all of the Microsoft Certified Master readiness videos from here.  Now they might be at a totally different level to what’s required for the exam but they do keep me interested in a subject more than a book.
  • I tried using notebooks and OneNote but now use Word to manage my note taking.  In the end Word won.  With the right combination of page breaks and bold titles I can cut, paste, insert and move text as I need to. 

2 thoughts on “Kick-starting my studying

    1. gavinpayneuk Post author

      I think I’m used to writing documents and reading books so having a linear structure gives me comfort that what I’m writing is culminating into something. I do use OneNote for other things although then I like its tree structure rather than the unformatted page layout.


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