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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
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    Orlando, FL
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    311

    Question Employer Requires I Pass Certification / MeasureUp or Pluralsight?

    My employer allowed me to move into the database group mid this year however since my database experience was very weak, they gave me 90 days to pass the Microsoft Database Fundamentals certification which I used MeasureUp for however likely didn't need to and passed w/ a 90%. Now in March, I will be expected to have my MCA in 70-461. I picked up the Training Kit on Amazon for this course from Microsoft Press however I don't want to rely on book study alone on the way I learn and extreme lack of RDBMS (SQL Server 2012) knowledge are a factor. I've read a lot of people under-estimate this certification / study material simply due to the XML bits and other variables.

    Do you you senior dogs here have any study tips / advice on what I can / should be doing in the next 3 months to prepare and pass this course? I already feel a lot of people are expecting me to not pass based on how hard some people find 70-461 in combination w/ my experience / knowledge so of course this fuels my desire even more to make sure I do whatever it takes to understand and pass the material.

    Thanks for any constructive advice!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    5,800
    Get what is sometimes called a "bang box". This is a sandbox kind of machine that you can use to try out various features of SQL Server. SQL Developer edition only costs around $50 - $70, so your employer should have no problem getting you a license. Developer edition also has all of the Enterprise features, so you will get to play with everything. With today's extensive virtual server setups, you should be able to get a machine you can install several instances of SQL Server on, as well.

    Has anyone else in the group passed 70-461?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Orlando, FL
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    311
    I have access to a 2012 Enterprise and 2014 Enterprise VM. I even partitioned them according to Brent Ozar so it seems my "bang box" is fairly mirrored to how I would find it in my production environment. I more asking from a training material / study reference PoV.

    The group consist of myself and Sr. DBA who's been doing SQL Server for 25 yrs. Him getting his 70-461 at this point in his career would be likely not worth it in his view.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
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    In front of the computer
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    15,579
    First and foremost, I can't say enough good things about PluralSight. They are by far the best source of online training that I've found, especially if you pony up for the "Plus" subscription level. The additional test materials provided and the support (often from the presenters) in their forums is worth every penny.

    I've looked at other training packages/sites/companies, and all of them are good and many provide great values. I subscribe to Pluralsight personally and my company also buys me other subscriptions. The company actually pays for PluralSight for the rest of my team, but I choose to maintain my personal subscription for many reasons.

    Get involved with one of the online or in person study groups for whatever Microsoft exams you want to take. There are several of them associated with http://www.sqlpass.org and a few related to http://www.sqlsaturday.com where people will help you study and learn.

    Make time to visit some of the SQL Saturday events. At least in my opinion, these are worth every minute of travel time both in terms of the information presented in the sessions as well as the conversation with people who live near you doing things similar to what you do at work... The community is invaluable!

    -PatP
    In theory, theory and practice are identical. In practice, theory and practice are unrelated.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Dallas, Texas
    Posts
    831
    I have a bachelors degree in Computer Information Systems and sometimes get this weird request. I ask for their credentials and that kind of closes the topic.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Orlando, FL
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    311
    UPDATE:

    I'm less than 30 days away from my employer requested 70-461 attempt 1. I feel I'm not prepared w/ less than 4 weeks to go. Mainly I have zero expectations for what will be on the test. The only thing I guarentee is my 1st question will be XML. I'm counting it! Do I know the XML bits, eh. I've studied them but sadly they're just not practical for my day to day usage. Clearly the cert doesn't care what I deem practical in my SQL Server usage but I'll hope for the best.

    I've been studying:

    - PluralSight 70-461 part 1/2 videos along w/ the same databases
    - Joes2Pros 70-461 video training guides 101 - 501 (currently @401) <--- I can't say enough amazing things about how much my knowledge has gained from these videos, labs, and quizes. So worth it!
    - Microsoft Training Kit 70-461 (study book) - This is by far the most complete guide to the certification but for me, the hardest to digest. I read and re-read the material. It's hard for me to really learn this from reading a book but it's great to know what they expect you to know for the cert. I generally follow up the topics else where online though...
    - MVA Training - If you can stomach the corny Microsoft Trainers and some of the de-railing content, it's not too bad but totally not a complete guide by any means. Some of it is just plain old bad / hard to stomach. I also encountered them reverse teaching the difference between running a SPROC as self and as caller. I was like 'WTF'.

    Anyways, I plan to give the 70-461 study material a good 5+ hrs daily until April1. If anyone has best wishes or advice on the path I'm heading down, please feel free to post. I might even take it before my deadline as just a way to experience the exam and know where I am before my deadline.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    In front of the computer
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    15,579
    Everyone learns differently, this is just a fact of life. It is clearly apparent in grade school, and the differences in learning styles seem to become more pronounced as people get older.

    Both the Joes2Pros which sounds like it hits your learning style best, and PluralSight (which suits my style best) are great sites with the content that you need. Work through them, but you need a break a few days before you take the test... Don't burn all the way to the test date, you'll burn yourself out and "freeze up" on the test.

    Over the past few years, you have always underestimated yourself. The degree of underestimation (difference between what you can do and what you profess to be able to do) varies, and your performance always exceeds your expectations. You are darned good, and have consistently outperformed your own expectations... There's a lesson that you can learn from this pattern!

    Stay focused, work hard, but don't burn yourself out.

    I would work with the Joes2Pros material, because that works best for your learning style. I would also encourage you to stick with PluralSight, it is the best online learning I have found and it will serve you no matter what part of the technical landscape you need to learn.

    -PatP
    In theory, theory and practice are identical. In practice, theory and practice are unrelated.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Orlando, FL
    Posts
    311
    Thanks Pat. I didn't think about giving myself breaks before I mentally melt. Appreciate the info as usual!

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