I would like to share with you how I passed the exam. I have been working in IT during the last two and half years, using SQL ocasionally. This month, I have been able to spend extra time to study and expand my knowledge in T-SQL.
Next, I am going to describe my setup in order to practice for the certification:
- Exam Ref 70-761 Querying Data with Transact-SQL Book. Note: I have choosen Amazon shop because it provides the kindle cloud environment where I can review easily my underlined notes and flashcards in all my devices
- Installation of SQL Server and SQL Server Management Studio. Download book dataset on SQL Server
- Exam questions and flashcards. Note: There are many providers. I have worked with Kaplan and I am satisfied
In the first place, the book is divided into three chapters. Each chapter has associated skills (eleven in total):
- Chapter 1. Manage data with T-SQL
- Skill 1.1. Create T-SQL SELECT queries
- Skill 1.2. Query multiple tables by using joins
- Skill 1.3. Implement functions and aggregate data
- Skill 1.4. Modify data
- Chapter 2. Query data with advanced T-SQL components
- Skill 2.1. Query data by using subqueries and APPLY
- Skill 2.2. Query data by using table expressions
- Skill 2.3. Group and pivot data by using queries
- Skill 2.4. Query temporal data and non-relational data
- Chapter 3. Program databases by using T-SQL
- Skill 3.1. Create database programmability objects by using T-SQL
- Skill 3.2. Implement error handling and transactions
- Skill 3.3. Implement data types and NULLs
On the other hand, in order to pass the exam, you need a score of 700/1000.
The proposed methodology consists of dividing the contents in eleven iterations corresponding with the eleven skills in which the book is divided.
Each iteration consists of the following steps:
- Read skill and underline the most important contents. You should have SQL Server Management Studio opened in order to test the example queries of the book
- Make flashcards of this skill. If you don't understand a question, make a promise (promise concept will be explained later). Optionally, you may copy the flashcards to kindle in order to review them later
- Make the exam simulation of this skill
- Review the explanation of the questions. It is important to understand why each answer is correct and why is not. Write the most important phrases of the answer explanation in order to memorize the key concept. If you don't understand a question, make a promise
- Review only the underlined contents of the first point.
- Commit your promises
Note: A promise is an action necessary to secure a concept that should be postponed in order to not lose the focus of the current task. Some examples of promises:
- In the second point, I realized that a flashcard concept (COALESCE) could not be underlined in the book. Promise: Find COALESCE function in book and check if it is underlined and understand how to use it
- In point 4, I have failed many questions related with handle nulls in joins. Promise: Review nulls on joins
Each skill/iteration has a different difficulty level that depends on where you have more previous experience. In my case, from skill 2.2 to skill 3.3, the challenge has increased considerably. Because of this, I have focused more on reviewing these last skills.
From my point of view, this methodology is very effective to pass the exam. Of course, you should adapt it to your own needs.
Finally, I passed my exam with a score of 830/1000. I am very proud because not only have I got the recognition certification but I also think I have gained knowledge that will make me a better professional.