The most important skill to practice when preparing for any certification exam!

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August 28, 2013 by Kenneth Fisher

I like practice tests. Once I feel like I’m getting ready to take a certification exam I start taking an appropriate practice exam or two.

Just a point here. When I get a question wrong I review the SUBJECT I get wrong, I don’t just memorize that particular answer. I took a practice test today and got a question wrong on partitioning. I’m now going to create a couple of partitioned tables over and over again until I can do it without referencing the books. Then I’m going to practice switching, merging and splitting until again I can do it without referencing BOL. And yet none of that is the most important thing I work on. It’s a simple skill but vastly important.

Reading the questions and answers carefully!

It’s that simple. Almost 50% of the times I get an answer wrong it’s because I missed something in the question and/or answers. For example in a question about what application to use to start the “SQL Server Agent” I answered “SQL Server Configuration Manager”. Of course I managed to skim over the very first fact in the question. The instance in question is part of a cluster which in this case had a rather significant impact on the answer.

The question wasn’t all that hard, but without that vital piece of information I got it wrong. Even though once I saw the correct answer I immediately knew what I had missed and why I’d gotten the question wrong.

So I guess if I have any piece of advice for getting ready to take a certification exam it’s practice taking tests. Read questions on-line, make sure you read every bit of the question, make sure you read every bit of the answers. It would suck to fail the exam just because you weren’t being careful!

4 thoughts on “The most important skill to practice when preparing for any certification exam!

  1. Lee Everest says:

    All valid points. Without actually opening up SSMS or whatever tool is required do learn the feature it’s a waste of time. I remember back in the day all of the major certs required Windows Server exams; I had never worked on a server, so had to load the software and go in and find and learn about the tool. As far as reading the question, I agree. For me over 50% because I get comfortable with questions and that’s when you can miss one, thinking they are asking something other than what you’re answering. Tests are tricky these days!

  2. Anna says:

    Agree! Exams become more tricky, some of the questions from last exam I passed contained 5 questions inside – it seems easy, but in reality they list 5 different tools to distribute among 5 different problems to resolve. If you miss one part of the answer – you missed entire query! One really has to focus!

  3. alalani123 says:

    I am preparing for my first SQL server 2012 exam 70-461. I purchased the training kit by Microsoft and it comes with one test. Can you give us some other test sources to get familiar with questions?
    thanks

    • You can go over to my Study and Reference Materials page and see a lot of links for places to learn and train. I’ve also got links for Transcender and Measureup which are the two most popular practice tests and certainly my favorites.

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