Hurrah! At long last I finally got round to taking 70-448: SQL 2008 BI Developer and passed!
As well as blowing my own trumpet, there is also a point to this post about studying for these exams – and specifically using practice exams. This is a bit controversial – as evidenced by this recent thread in the MSDN SSIS Forums. Some exams are a brain dump – like Test King – and if you just want to learn the questions and answers, then that will serve you well, but your certification will be worthless once people find that you don’t actually know what you are talking about.
I’ve been using Transcender‘s exams to get me through 70-448 (and it’s 2005 predecessor) and found in useful because it helped me understand what kind of questions I’d be facing, but also where I needed to study. So rather than a rote learning exercise, I used them as a springboard to guide where I needed to study.
I’m not going to endorse Transcender particularly – I found myself having to correct far too manyof their questions where either the question was misleading, or the answer was simply wrong. To their credit they did actually respond to the issues I raised and corrected them, but it’s frustrating when you review your answers from a practice run and come to the realisation that the exam itself was wrong.
I’ve also found their customer service unacceptably slow – being a consultant I migrate laptops and o/s a lot and have burnt through my allotted product activations – I’ve had to request a manual activation code. I did this 4 days ago and am still waiting…
Also, the Exam Sucks – a bit
Some of the critiques levelled above at Transcender’s practice exam also apply to the real thing. Some of the questions and answers are vaguely worded or use terms that don’t match the product itself.
However my biggest bugbear is the scope of the exam. There’s quite a few questions on things that bear no relevance to the day to day experience of a BI Developer. I point heavily to the questions on SSRS Configuration files which in practice are rarely touched, or the emphasis on the use of Checkpoints in SSIS which most people avoid due to their poor implementation. But I guess this is true of many exams regardless of subject so is a bit forgivable.
Regardless, I still think certifications have their value – they force you to study areas you are less familiar with. It won’t make you proficient, but it will at least make you aware of capabilities. Experience, however, still trumps a bit of paper