How to pass Exam 70-448, tips from a failure.
If you are looking for a brain dump, go see Microsoft Policy on cheating.
This is not a brain dump, but I do hope it encourages and guides a few people trying for this or other certifications. Here are a few things I learned as I studied for the Microsoft 70-448 exam “Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Business Intelligence Development and Maintenance”.
I titled this ‘tips from a failure’ because I failed this test twice before finally passing today. After taking a class about SSIS, I took the exam, got to the end, pressed ‘End Exam’ and it informed me I had failed. I scored 616 and needed 700 to pass. So I doubled down and spent two weeks with the training kit book and practice exam. I got to the end, pressed ‘End Exam’ and scored 683. Doh!
I felt beat, so I watched Randy Pausch in ‘The Last Lecture‘ and heard his wisdom. “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
First, marry a woman who does not mind you not working for weeks on end while you take over her dining room table and occasionally rant at your laptop. Yup, that part is really important. Seraiously though, support each other.
Second, adopt a mutt that needs and expects at least a mile walk every evening and will pester you until you leave the computer. The fresh air helps with sanity.
Third, go pee. Really, go before you start these are long tests. I started at 9:00 AM and did not finish until about noon because of all the surveys before and after the 160 minute exam. They could just email the survey and I’ll fill it out later because by noon, I gotta go.
Fourth, I had to get a variety of experiences and resources about the Microsoft BI stack. I’ve spent a decade in the Cognos world and only about 18 months in the SSRS environment. As you can see from the photo I supported several of my favorite authors in this endeavor to pass. Each author brings unique explanations and different hands on exercises from which to learn nuances of the tools. I know, most of them are available as ebooks but then how do you stick in post it notes and fold down the pages. Brian Knight’s books have videos which are a good break from labs.
Fifth, practice the obscure things that are listed as part of this test. I’ve done maintenance and development on SSIS and SSAS but never really dug under the covers. You will need to learn about all the obscure settings related to tuning, logging and errors in each of the tools. Learn the command line utilities and all the options. Learn MDX, DMX and a little bit of XMLA. Learn how to bring VB.net into the tools. That might be a rant/mini-dump, but no more than you would get from the MS Training Kit book. BTW, if you get that book be sure to read all of Teo Lachev’s ‘Exam Tip’ boxes throughout the book. Teo nails them on the head.
This morning when I got to the end of the test, I really did not want to push the button. I laid my head on the desk, thought of the weeks of study and clicked. It popped up “Would you like to complete another survey?” not right now, just tell me what I scored. Finally it popped up the score and told me I had passed.
As new technology rolls out this year, I know a lot of people are cramming for exams. Hang in there. As my Grandpa used to say “If you get bucked off, git back on and show him who’s boss”.