Employers these days are saying there is a lack of good
candidates for available job openings. How employers rate employees is
different from company to company, but one thing for sure is they are looking
at the degrees and certificates a potential candidate holds. One way to
demonstrate that you know how to manage SQL Server is to hold one of
Microsofts SQL Server certifications. Getting certified requires that you
understand the product, study and take a test. So how do you prepare for getting
certified? There are a number of different ways to get up to speed on SQL
Server. But before you go take an exam you need a way to measure your
understanding of the objectives of the exam. The way to do this is through
practices exams. In this article, I will be reviewing the M70-443 PrepKit exam
software available from uCertify.com. This PrepKit is to help you prepare for
the Designing a Database Server Infrastructure by using Microsoft SQL Server 2005 exam (70-443), which is one of the exams you need to pass as part of the Microsoft IT
Professional: Database Administrator certification.
The uCertify.com company has been in the exam preparation
business since 1999. They offer 83 different technical exams, and are
currently working on 15 new exams. They have recently released exams for the
latest certifications such as SCJP6, MCTS , .NET 2.0, Windows Vista and Oracle
Form Developer, etc.
You can try all the uCertify.com exams before you buy them.
They offer free demo downloads on their website. The free downloads will give
you a sense of the look and feel of their exam engine. All demos contain a
limit number of questions.
When you purchase an exam, they come with free upgrades for
a year and a money back guarantee should you fail the exam. You can use a credit
card, Google Checkout or PayPal to purchase their exams. To find out more
about the M70-443 exam from uCertify.com check out the following web page: http://www.ucertify.com/exams/Microsoft/70-443.html
Review of the M70_443 Exam from uCertify.com
The exam was easy to download and install from the
uCertify.com website. After installing the download, I was only provided
with the demo version. The demo version contains a small number of questions,
articles, and notes. In order to obtain all the questions I needed to unlock
the product. As part of obtaining the uCertify.com exam, I was emailed a
license key from the sales department. It was a simple process to use this
license key to unlock the product.
When I start the PrepKit here is the screen that was
From this single window, I was able to access all the
different features of the PrepKit. The PrepKit is broken up into three
different sections. The section in the upper left hand side of the screen
allows you to take different kinds of tests. On the right hand side, you have
a number of different tools to help you better understand SQL Server 2005.
Then in the bottom left, there are some options for reviewing how well you have
done with each practice test or quiz you have taken.
If you look at the above screen, it appears that there are
125 different test questions. One of the first things I did was determine the
number of questions that were available in the PrepKit. When I downloaded the PrepKit,
the uCertify.com website said there were 200 questions available in their
practice exam software. As it turns out these questions are broken up into
100 unique test and 100 quiz questions. The available different questions are
broken up into the following different categories:
Designing a Database Server Infrastructure
Designing Security for a Database Server Solution
Designing a Physical Database
Design a Database Solution for High Availability
Design a Data Recovery Solution for a Database
Designing a Strategy for Data Archiving
In addition to the 75 test questions above, there are an
additional 25 unique question that are only available on the final test. The
additional 15 questions on the final test come from the question pool listed above.
Having these 25 unique questions allows you to see fresh questions on the final
exam. This way the final exam really does test your readiness for taking the
real Microsoft exam.
New questions are being constantly added to the PrepKit.
After I downloaded the PrepKit, and before I finished this article the folks at
uCertify.com informed me that the lasted version of the PrepKit now contains
210 different questions.
For each practice test, except the final test, the PrepKit
engine allows you to set options for how you would like your test to be
configured. Below is a screenshot of the options you have for setting up a
With the testing options window you can control the number
of questions, duration, and passing score for each test. On Microsofts test a
passing score is 700, so Im not sure I would modify the passing score any
lower than 700. If you really wanted to challenge yourself you might want to
set your passing score to 850 or above. Another challenging feature is to select
the Always Show Last Answer Option as None of the Above. By doing this one
of the anwsers to the question will be removed from the set of answers and
replaced with None of the Above. This will really challenge your knowledge
of the subject matter, especially when the correct answer to the question is
the one replaced with None of the Above. The last option you can pick is
Test Mode or Learn Mode. With Test Mode you have to answer all the
questions before you are shown which answer is correct, where as in Learn
Mode you get instant gratification by receiving the answer right away after
you have answer each question.
Regardless of which testing mode you pick when you review
the answer for each question you are given a detailed explanation of each
answer. These explanations tell why each answer is wrong or correct. This is
a valuable feature to help you determine why the answer you picked is wrong or
correct. With this understanding, you can solidify your knowledge of the
particular concept the question is trying to measure.
If you want to study a specific section of the objectives
for the exam, then the Create a Custom test function is for you. With the
Create a custom test function, you have control over what chapters will be
used and the number of questions that will be used for a custom test. So if
you would like to be tested on the high availability options then you could
customize the test to select only questions from the high availability chapter.
Here is a screenshot of the options available when creating a custom test:
When you create your custom test, you can select questions
from any one of the six different chapters. To set up your custom test you
first add questions to the question pool. You do that by selecting the
chapters you want to be tested on, and then clicking on the Add Questions to
the Pool button. You can further constrain the questions used for a custom
test by removing questions by ID from the Question Pool by selecting the
question ID and then clicking on the Remove Questions button. Once you
have the set of questions you want to be tested on in the question pool, you
then can determine the number of questions you want on your test. You can
specify a number that represents the entire set of questions in the question
pool, or you can specify a specific number of questions that you would like to
have selected at random from the question pool. Like the other test, the
custom test allows you to select Test Mode, Learn Mode, how long you want to be
allowed to take the test and what it takes to achieve a passing score.
The M70-443 PrepKit also has an adaptive testing format.
With an adaptive test, you are given an easy question, and then if you answer
it correctly you are given a harder question. If you answer the harder
question incorrectly then you are given an easier one. This swapping of easier
and harder questions goes back and forth until you are done with the test.
Another training aid of the M70-443 PrepKit is the
Interactive quiz section. This section allows you to solidify your knowledge
of the concepts this exam is trying to measure. There are 100 different quiz
questions. Here is a look at the interface used to create a quiz:
Starting a quiz is similar to the practice tests. You can
tailor the quiz to test you on any chapter or you can focus in and get quized
on a single chapter. There are 100 different quiz questions to choose from.
As you can see from the above screen, some chapters have more questions than
others. For some reason at the time I download the PrepKit there were no quiz
questions related to Designing a Strategy for Archiving. You have the option
to set how much time you want to be allowed on each question. The maximum time
is 65 seconds, there is no learn mode for the quizes. By having a short period
of time to think about the question and review the different answers you dont
have a lot of time to weigh all the different options to determine the right
answer. Therefore if you dont really understand the concepts it will be a
challenge to get a good score on the quizes. Right after you answer a quiz
question you are given the correct answer. Unlike the normal practice test
the quizes do not provide you with an explaination of why each answer is
correct or incorrect. It would be nice if the PrepKit included a detailed
explanation of why each answer was either wrong or right.
Another feature of this PrepKit is flashcards. The PrepKit
engine serves up flashcard questions that look like this:
Here you can type in your answer to the question, and then
click on the Check Now! button to determine whether your answer is correct.
The flash cards are just a different format for displaying the study notes.
Using the flashcard option allows you an alternative question and answer method
to verify your knowledge of the subject matter.
There are three additional items that the PrepKit provides:
articles, study tips, and how tos. At the time of this writing, there were
four different articles available. These article topics were on Profiler,
performance monitoring, replication, and how to perform joins. The study tips
give you guidelines on how to study for the exam, what practices you might what
to do, and tips on how to take the exam. Lastly there are quite a few
different how to guides that can be used to step you through different
tasks. Most of the how to guides are something a seasoned SQL Server DBA
would already know, but are great resources for someone trying to learn how to
use the GUI interfaces of SQL Server 2005.
The PrepKit does a great job of tracking your learning
process while you take quizzes and tests, with a Test History report. This
report provides you with a nice bar chart that tracks how well you did on each
test or quiz. Here is what the Test History report looks like:
The history report has a number of actions you can perform
related to each test, or quiz. These actions can be used to review all the
questions, review only the questions you answered incorrectly, re-test all
questions, or re-test only those that you got incorrect. You can use the test
history to help you understand how well you are progressing in your learning
process of the concepts related to the 70-443 exam.
The PrepKit provides a Readiness Report. This readiness
assessment contains two different reports. One report shows you how well you
did based on the five different available tests, and the other report shows how
well you have done against the objectives of the 70-443 exam. Each report
allows you to select the testing objectives you feel is appropriate for further
testing. For additional testing, you can pick: re-test correct answers,
re-test wrong answers, test un-attempted questions, or re-test all questions.
These options allow you to select the category of questions that you feel are
most appropriate for your re-testing.
One thing I noticed about the testing processes, once you
started a test you are not able to cancel out of the test without your test being
scored. Therefore, if you do this repeatedly you might have lots of items on
the Test History report with some very poor marks. If you end up with lots
of bad test scores, you are allowed to remove those testing results by clicking
on the delete icon.
How well does the PrepKit Prepare you for the Exam?
The PrepKit does a good job of covering all the objectives
of the exam. The test format is very similar to the actual certification
test. Being familiar with the PrepKit engine helps you be more comfortable,
and reduces the anxiety associated with the actual certification test. The
scenarios, actual questions, and balance of questions in the different
categories do a good job of being like the real exam. If you thoroughly go
through the entire PrepKit tests, quizzes, articles, and study notes and
understand each question and why the associated answer are correct and
incorrect then you will be well prepared for the exam.
Suggestions on how to take the test
When you take the practices tests as well as the real
Microsoft exam, you need to do it using an approach that will help ensure your
success. Therefore, I would suggest you come up with a test taking strategy
that will help reduce your stress level and help minimize the number of answers
to select from when you dont know the answer to a particular question. Read
each question and the answers thoroughly and then review the scenario to help
you understand the situation before you answer the question. If you dont know
the answer to a particular question, then use the bookmark feature. Once you
bookmark a question skip to the next question. This will help minimize your
stress level and keep you moving through the test answering those questions
where you know the answer. With the bookmark, you can come back and answer
these questions last. When you come back to those bookmarked questions, you
need to review each question and eliminate the answers that are obviously
incorrect. By reducing the number of possible answers, you minimize your risk
of selecting the wrong answer. Once you have eliminated all the clearly wrong
answers re-read the scenario. Hopefully doing this will lead you to
determining which answer is correct. Normally this process of elimination
will get you down to two different answers. The scenario should clearly lead
you to one of the answers. Although sometimes the answers are so close that it
might not be totally obvious which answer is the correct one, without
thoroughly understanding all the aspects of the scenario.
Practice Makes Perfect
Like the old saying goes Practice Makes Perfect. The
uCertify.com is an ideal choice for practicing for the Microsoft 70-443
certification exam. They have a good set of questions and some additional
training tools to help with your learning process. They do an excellent job of
simulating the real test and provide you with a number of graphs and reports to
help track your studying progress. uCertify.com also provides 100% money back
guarantee should you not pass the test. If you are in the market for practice
exam software, then check out the uCertify.com website before purchasing any
See All Articles by Columnist Gregory A. Larsen