First MCTS, Then MCITP

Not that long ago I posted an item showing off my third Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certificate on SQL Server 2008.  With the MTCS certificates all in my pocket, the time had come to start on the Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) certification track.

Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP), Database Developer 2008Yes, I’m happy to announce that I have passed the 70-451 exam.  For those who are not familiar with the numbers, it’s the exam to get the MCITP Database Developer 2008 certificate.

Obviously I can’t say anything about the content of the exam, but what I can do is explain the questioning style with a fictitious example.

Fictitious MCTS Question

If you’ve done one of the MCTS exams, you know that there’s quite some focus on syntax stuff.  Here’s an example.

Question Example

Select the answer that completes the following sentence:

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 is a …

A. floppy drive system

B. Beta Ace Service

C. Database Server

D. Operating System

(Correct answer is C.)

Obviously this is fairly simple.  Now, imagine that the question mentions an incomplete query and you need to select the right answer to complete it.  And there are two (or more) similar answers that seem plausible to you.  Until you start thinking, sometimes thinking hard.  And then it hits you: three out of the four answers contain something to invalidate the query because of a syntax issue.

That’s the MCTS style.  I don’t really like it to be honest.  In real-life, when I’m not sure of the syntax, first of all the Management Studio will tell me .  If that’s not enough, I do a quick search in the Books Online and I’m good to go.  Obviously you won’t be able to answer these questions if you’re not familiar with the statements.  But then again, if you read about the syntax an hour before the exam, you’ll probably still remember it, and you will be able to answer the question.  What does that prove then?  I’ll leave the conclusion to you.  To be fair I need to mention that not all questions are like this.

Fictitious MCITP Question

The questioning style for the MCITP exam is a bit different.  There’s less focus on syntax details, or just one single detail, and more on the broader picture.  Again I’ll demonstrate with an example.

Question ExampleYearling T-bone steak

You’re hungry and you need to do something about it by method of eating.

What answer will solve your problem, taking into account that:

  • you need to be able to do sports in an hour time
  • you don’t have a microwave oven
  • you’re allergic to certain types of fruit

A. a T-Bone steak (500 grams) with a creamy pepper sauce accompanied by French Fries

B. cold pasta that you really don’t want to eat unheated

C. hot pasta with meat and zucchini

D. cold pasta with onion, apple and tomato

(Correct answer is C.)

Do you notice the difference?  You need a much broader knowledge to be able to solve these types of question.  For our example, you need to know that a microwave oven can be used to heat up food and you need to know that zucchini is not fruit.  Furthermore you need to be aware that answer A would be in conflict with the ability to do sports an hour after eating.

I prefer these types of question over the MCTS style.  I believe these require more knowledge of and on-the-job experience with the product.  And after all, proving that you have some knowledge about it is the whole point of the exams, right?

For another great story related to the 70-433 and 70-451 exams – that’s the MCTS and MCITP for the Database Developer 2008 credential – check out Brent Ozar’s blog post: MCM Prep Week: Microsoft Exams 70-433 and 70-451.  He wrote it while preparing for the MCM certification track.

That’s it for now, have fun!

Valentino.

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