MCITP Database Developer 2008: Is self-preparation realistic?

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Self-preparation is the wildcard type of preparation where you never are sure if you’re doing something productive or just running around in circles shouting forwater, wasting your precious study time. Pre-arranged preparation is usually safer than self-preparation, but sometimes, if done properly, it can be much more effective to self-prepare. However, for some exams, self-preparation just isn’t realistic. So is it for the MCITP? It can be…

About the exam

This is, unless you haven’t noticed from the title, a database developer certification for databases, given from a business perspective. To pass a MCITP, you need to pass 2 separate exams, namely the 433 and the 451. Each exam costs about $80, for a grand total of about $160. The Microsoft SQL Server 2008, Database Development exam, or the 433, covers a range of topics including the implementation of tables and views (14%); programming objects (16%); the working of and with query fundamentals (21%); the application of query techniques (15%); SQL server components and XML data (22%), as well as gathering performance information.

The Designing Database Solutions and Data Access Using Microsoft SQL Server 2008, or the 451, covers the designing  of database strategy, tables, programmable objects, SML strategy, etc… generally all the design part of the database.

Generally, these exams are for candidates working in an IT firm with more than 500 computers, and more than 100 servers. They also usually work in the full suite of BI technologies in SQL Server, the 2008 version.

The drawback of this exam is that, as technology progresses and more and better versions of software and techniques implementations become available, earlier versions of the exam become obsolete, as the technology is no longer used.

What help is available

Thankfully, if there is one thing Microsoft provides well, it is documentation and training. Entering the exam site of either test will open up the path to perky collapsing tabs that will provide you with all the books, training options, and practice tests you need. Microsoft even provides help using the MS Learning portal at @MSLearning and @sql. You can also review the Microsoft policies at Microsoft Certification exam policies and FAQs, and for information regarding registration and the like, go click on Microsoft Certification exam overview. Please note that the Microsoft issued exam guide book for the MCTIP DD 2008 is the “MCTS Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-433): Microsoft SQL Server 2008 - Database Development”


So, in the end, is it feasible? Not quite. While, certainly it can be attempted, any self-preparation try will only provide sketchy results at best. Why exactly? Well, to be not-so-specific, database development is not that easy. It may be feasible if you already have some experience, and had undergone some similar database design and programming training. Then, it is quite a reasonable method of studying. However, if you barely know how to call up commands in an SQL database, you’re better off going through the certified training.

Databases are important, and actual training in a manned course is required. Even if you do know how to design, build and program a database, nobody will believe you without a piece of paper, meaning a certification, hence comes in this exam. However, even if you did have prior self-training, it might be feasible to get a lower level certification first.

Microsoft provides resources in a drop-table for each of their topics. If you want to polish up, and make sure you know everything about each, follow each online resource in the drop-menu for each topics, on the official Microsoft exam page (for the 433 and the 451 ). The resources are easy to read and understand, but it might be a bit fuzzy if you start from scratch, especially since the resources only provide a short description of what that item is, and its explicit command, without actual input or real-life examples, so the outcome may be more of a general theoretical view over databases that do not really encompass real-life needs of firms and such.


If you can’t beat them, join them! So if self-preparation is only feasible for the old vets that have known database design and programming since they were in their infant keyboards, where are the newbie left? Well there are quite a number of training courses for database programming in general, and some even offered by Microsoft itself: Both the 6232B: Implementing a Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Database (5 Days) and the 2778A: Writing Queries Using Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Transact-SQL (3 Days) courses can help with the first exam, while candidates preparing for the second are advised to look at the free resources following the @MSLearning portal.

By following the @MSLearning twitter page you will get access to the cumulative knowledge of the Microsoft learning community and to the newest videos and articles related to the application and study of all Microsoft-related products and more. It is by far the most valuable resource that is offered by Microsoft for this exam, and it will surely be worth checking out. All you need to get the maximum value of this free resource is a twitter account, or lots of patience.


All in all self-preparation, like always, is a risky gamble. Long apart from being certain, it is more of a cheap man’s choice rather than a wise man’s, especially for database development. That being said however, sometimes, for some people who are truly outstanding and capable, there is a solid reason to self-prepare, either because formal training is not efficient with that individual, or there isn’t any need for more formal training, but rather an adaptation of sorts regarding procedures and questions types, as some sort of training was already undergone.

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