Posted by: Denny Cherry
Certifications, MCM, SQL Server, SQL Server 2008
So just in case you missed it, I took and passed the Microsoft MCM lab last Thursday. Since I’m the first person to go through the test in the new format I wanted to put together some comments (as best I can thanks to NDAs).
So the MCM gives you 6 hours to complete, and when you take it, you’ll need most if not all of the time.
I basically finished in a little over 4 hours, then went back and reviewed a couple of the scenarios which took me until about the 5 hour mark. The exam is made up of several smaller scenarios which are independent and each of which will test your knowledge of one or more parts of the SQL Server engine.
As I mentioned in my prior blog post you will need to know all aspects of the SQL Server engine very well. After taking the lab I can say that I feel this even more now. With the time limitation you need to know the production very well, as well as where to find useful information in Book OnLine. The lab is a closed book exam, and the only reference that you have access to is Books OnLine.
When you do decide to take the exam, don’t expect to get your results back as quickly as I did. Currently Microsoft only has one Lab Exam environment to do the tests on, and that environment had to be reset after I took it for another person so my exam had to be scored very quickly. Once the lab is released for general use scoring will take about 30 business days as the exam will be scored by hand to account for creative solutions to the scenarios as well as to account for creative ways that people may try and cheat on the exam.
I didn’t realize just how worried about taking the exam I was until I was done, and logged off of the environment. I could actually feel the stress just leave once I finished the exam. And this was before I knew if I had passed. I knew that I would get my result quickly because of the next person taking it so quickly, and I knew that if I passed I would be thrilled, but I didn’t realize just how happy I would be to have passed.
When you take the exam, you can’t take any water or food into the exam room, but you can leave some in a locker outside the exam room. You’ll want to bring food with you to eat and drink. Getting hungry during the process sure won’t help you pass the exam, and it’ll just distract you. Just keep in mind that snack breaks do count against your 6 hour window.
Personally I didn’t do a whole lot of studying (I talked about my professional experience in my last post). I watched most of the MCM videos that SQL Skills put out. I skipped ones that were on topics that I can speak on in my sleep like storage, Service Broker, etc just because I felt that I knew that material the best. I focused on the indexing internals, and the security pieces as to me those are the most complex parts of the database engine to me.
Hopefully this helps you on your trip though the MCM process.