On Monday, Feb 6th, I passed exam 70-452, Designing a Business Intelligence Infrastructure Using Microsoft SQL Server 2008. Hazzah. I am really excited about that, not because I get a shiny new MCITP certification, but because it validates how much I have learned. When I started working with SQL Server about 5 years ago, I started down the DBA track, even earning an MCITP in the SQL Server 2005 DBA track. It was not too long after that when I determined that Business Intelligence was where I really wanted to hang my career hat.
This post isn’t really about that, though. I have a process that I use to learn the material. I then use the exams to measure that learning. The process I have has worked pretty well. Actually, I am 6 for 6 when I commit to this process. Since it seems to work really well for me, I thought I would share it in case it may help someone else as well.
Typically, I like to use the Microsoft Press Self-Paced exam guides. I find them to be a great starting point and cover the key areas of the technology in question. In the case of exam 70-452, as of the time of this writing, there is not a Microsoft Press exam guide for that exam. Therefore, I instead chose Delivering Business Intelligence with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 by Brian Larson. I found it to be a great base for my prep for 70-452. In areas where I felt I needed to go deeper, I turned to Books Online.
My process consists of a few key steps.
1. I go through the text taking notes on the details of each topic. I make sure to make my notes in my own words and avoid taking anything word for word from the text. This helps a lot in that I must process the information more than once as I go.
2. The books I have used have all featured do-it-yourself style exercises during which you put what you learned into practice. I find this really valuable to gain at least some experience, particularly with skills I have never used in real life.
3. I read through the notes several times over, just like studying for test back in school.
It does not seem like much and certainly is not very elaborate. There are no tesla coils involved or anything. But sometimes it is the simple things people overlook.
Since I titled this post “Facing The Challenge,” I figured I should also show some of the faces I used during the process outline above.
Confusion. Some of the content was confusing at first.
Determination. I knew I had to commit myself to understanding all the concepts.
Realization. Ah. NOW I get it.
Satisfaction. I passed. I dun learned something.
Well, there you have it.