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Preparation Hints

Preparation Hints

Review the Exam Objectives and be sure you are familiar with them. As you study, concentrate on the subject matter and how it maps to the exam objectives. You should concentrate your studies on the tasks related to the design of SQL Server solutions. It is easy to veer off into areas that are more applicable to the earlier implementation and maintenance exam. Stick to design of SQL Server solutions. The questions will generally involve configuration of SQL but the key reason for choosing the correct answer will be a design consideration.

You should pay close attention to the new features of SQL Server 2008 and specifically new enterprise level features. MCITP’s are Microsoft’s professional evangelists, and they are expected to be aware of the compelling reasons to upgrade to the newest version of their respective technologies. SQL Server 2008 has several new features relevant to database design: Microsoft SQL’s new FILESTREAM feature stores binary large object (BLOB) data as files on the file system. The usual varbinary(max) restriction of 2GB file sizes does not apply to BLOBs that are stored in the file system using the FILESTREAM feature. The FILESTREAM attribute can only be applied to a varbinary(max) column. The Resource Governor can be used to prioritize applications, users, and computers competing for the same resources or prevent run-away queries on the server. Policy-Based Management is a method for managing single or multiple of SQL Server 2008. Policies are used to manage objects on the server, such as the SQL Server instance, databases, or other SQL Server objects. Take time to review the free Microsoft TechNet books online for SQL Server 2008. When you find sections with examples of problems solved by a new technology, stop and take note. Any scenarios described in those sections will make excellent exam material.

Do not forget the basics. It is always important to know the upgrade tracks for the featured technology of any Microsoft exam. A quick breakdown of the migration paths for various versions of SQL Server 2005 shows mostly one to one relationships between versions. Since Windows Server 2008 R2 will be the last iteration to support the Intel Itanium processor, it is unlikely the Itanium (IA64) versions will show up on the exam. The tricky upgrade scenarios would involve Express or Workgroup versions of SQL Server. In multi-step upgrades from Express, the Workgroup version of SQL Server would be the intermediate step on the way to Standard or Enterprise.

Table 1 Upgrade Paths for SQL Server versions

Current Version

Available Upgrade Paths

SQL Server 2005 (32-Bit) Express

SQL Server 2008 Express

 

SQL Server 2008 Express Tools

 

SQL Server 2008 Express Advanced

 

SQL Server 2008 Workgroup

SQL Server 2005 (32-Bit) Express Advanced

SQL Server 2008 Express Advanced

 

SQL Server 2008 Workgroup

SQL Server 2005 (32-Bit) Workgroup

SQL Server 2008 Workgroup

 

SQL Server 2008 Standard

 

SQL Server 2008 Enterprise

SQL Server 2005 (32-Bit) Standard

SQL Server 2008 Standard

 

SQL Server 2008 Enterprise

SQL Server 2005 X64 (64-bit) Standard

SQL Server 2008 X64 (64-bit) Standard

 

SQL Server 2008 X64 (64-bit) Enterprise

SQL Server 2005 X64 (64-bit) Enterprise

SQL Server 2008 X64 (64-bit) Enterprise

SQL Server 2005 (32-Bit) Developer

SQL Server 2008 Developer

SQL Server 2005 (32-Bit) Enterprise

SQL Server 2008 Enterprise

SQL Server 2005 X64 (64-bit) Developer

SQL Server 2008 X64 (64-bit) Developer

SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Evaluation (32-bit, IA64, X64)

No upgrade support.

Hands-on experience with SQL Server is less important for this design-focused exam than the previous implementation and maintenance exam. Still, hands-on experience with SQL Server will improve your chances for success. If you do not have access to an instance of SQL Server 2008, you should download a free copy from Microsoft. There are two free versions of SQL Server available to prepare for this exam. In addition to steeply discounted exams, students may get a copy of SQL Server 2008 Developer Edition from Microsoft’s DreamSpark program. All candidates are eligible for the free SQL Server 2008 Trial Software Evaluation Edition. The Trial edition of SQL Server is active for 180 days and should allow plenty of time to prepare for this exam. Microsoft also offers sample SQL databases through the CodePlex Open Source Project Community.

On examination day, you will need to present two forms of identification. The proctor should secure your personal belongings such as purses and cell phones. The only material you will be allowed access to during the exam are usually a laminated piece of paper and wax pencil provided by the proctor.

Even experienced test takers can feel the effects of exam anxiety. The pre-exam survey is a nice opportunity to settle your nerves and familiarize yourself with the testing environment. This survey will not count against your exam time limit and is an opportunity slow down, collect your thoughts, and get into a rhythm of reading and answering questions.

Once you begin the exam, take your time and read each question carefully. Microsoft is has a reputation for lengthy exam questions. The body of the questions may contain extraneous information. One technique I recommend to help zero in on the information relevant to finding the correct answer is to read the end of the question and the answers before reading the entire question. You will have two hours to complete the exam, so do not rush. Read each question carefully and be sure you understand which answer is the Microsoft-appropriate answer.

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