SQL Server Exam 70-761
Well it has been a very long time since I have done a Microsoft certification exam (I think the year was 2000). Well a lot has changed in the exams since those days. Back then I had to keep certified for my job as a SQL Server trainer (MCT). Then I stopped taking the exams, when I changed jobs and especially when I thought that the value of certification had dropped (too many ways to pass the exam without having the knowledge - exam dumps, practice tests that were copies of the real exams, dodgy testing centres etc).
But this year I decided to do an exam to ensure that my knowledge and skills were still current.
Exam 70-761 Querying Data with Transact-SQL.
A number of my colleagues stated that I should be able to do the exam without any study. How wrong they were. The exam really does test your knowledge of Transact-SQL up to and including SQL Server 2016. Topics such as XML, JSON, temporal tables, pivot/unpivot, grouping sets, cube, all of the different joins and apply clauses, new date and time, LAG and LEAD etc. So a very extensive range of knowledge.
I used the Microsoft Exam Ref as my study guide. It was written by Itzik Ben-Gan (@ItzikBenGan, he also blogs at https://sqlperformance.com) and was great. Anything written by Itzik is always excellent and I will keep this as a reference in the future.
The exam was 48 questions in 2 hours with a pass mark of 700.
They gave me an A3 piece of paper laminated and a white board marker to scribble notes on.
It was a difficult exam and I used the whole time and didn't answer 2 questions (ran out of time).
Most of the questions were long and some had up to 8 possible answers. there was 4 to 5 case studies, each with at least 3 questions and it doesn't give you any opportunity to go back to a previous question (as this question may give you the answer to a previous question). Lots of syntax testing questions with solutions that were very similar so you really needed to know specifics. The last 4 or 5 questions involved writing the T-SQL syntax to solve a problem, quite hard at the end of 2 hours and being pressed for time, additionally I had never seen question types like this before, so it took a while to adjust.
Overall I am glad that I did the exam and I think that it does require more than a moderate understanding of T-SQL and the new syntax and clauses that have been introduced in the latter versions of SQL Server (2012, 2014 and 2016).