Microsoft 70-433 exam review

In my last post “January Goals Update” I promised that I would write a few lines on my experience of taking the 70-433 SQL Server 2008 Database Development MCTS exam. I know not everybody is a big fan of the certification process but it does have it’s merits, Brad McGehee summed them up very well in one of his books, which you can download for free – How to become an exceptional DBA.

My study time was limited to lunchtimes and some reading/playing with topics for a few hours once or twice a week over a period of about six weeks. I found that in the study material I used “The Real MCTS SQL Server 2008 Exam 70-433 Prep Kit” (alongside BOL) there was quite a lot of overlap between the DBA and Dev tracks which allowed me to skim through a lot of the chapters as I had already covered most of the subjects. You can read about the study material I used for the 70-432 exam here and 70-450 here.

I would not recommend this book as your only resource as, whilst some chapters are excellent unfortunately others have a number of mistakes. I was able to sift a number of these out, but if you were using only this book you may struggle to pass. For example the very first question in my exam was about Powershell, something not mentioned in the printed copy that I used. It is fair to say that it was only one question, but when a book says “Guaranteed coverage: This comprehensive study guide guarantees 100% coverage of MCTS Exam 70-433 objectives” you would assume that it would cover everything. It is a real shame as the 70-432 sister book was really good. In fact the list of authors is almost identical.

Just to re-iterate as this is an important point – I’m not saying that you shouldn’t use this book because in parts it’s very good and you can pick a copy up for as little as £20 which you will earn back many times over once you have passed. At this kind of price you can’t afford not to buy it, look at it as an investment in yourself – or even better ask your employer to buy a copy for you! As a SQL Server professional should be buying quality material to learn from, not just memorise syntax but learn to think things through thoroughly and understand how everything works. That way you’ll be able to spot the errata easily.

The exam itself consisted of 55 questions which surprised me as the DBA track only had 45. Not only were there more questions, but the questions were much longer. I’m not saying that these factors made the Dev exam harder than the DBA exam, far from it. If you don’t have in depth knowledge of the syllabus you will fail no matter which exam it is. In my opinion the level of questions were pretty much on a par with each other and there were some questions that could have been asked in either exam. In fact I was surprised by the number of questions that I would have thought fell more into a DBA role than a developer role. This may be due to the way that our perception of job roles are changing, there is a definite need for people to wear many hats, especially in smaller organisations.

In this review I have purposely stopped short of listing the types of questions that I experienced in the exam as when you start you sign an NDA saying you will not share information about the exam questions with others. As a nice wholesome Microsoft Certified IT Pro it would be remiss of me not to tell all those wanting to sit the paper that they should have a good knowledge of all the contents in the exam syllabus not just study what somebody has told you will be on the exam aka brain dumps. That isn’t what the certifications were designed to represent. Suffice to say that the percentages listed in the syllabus were pretty close to my experience and I didn’t feel like I was being tied down to one particular subject – except the unnaturally large percentage of questions on XML.

If you’re looking for some specific areas to study or other peoples experiences then have a look at the following posts that others have written:

If you’re reading this in preparation for a certification of your own then I wish you the best of luck!