Monday, March 23, 2009

DBA 5.1 Exam Contents, Part 1 of 3

The MySQL DBA 5.1 Certification Exam is a big change from previous exams.

  1. No multiple choice, true/false questions
  2. Must be able to use MySQL
  3. You are given the answers (in most cases) and must change the database to meet expectations
  4. No study guide

The exam is divided into two sections -- mandatory and optional tasks. The mandatory tasks are core knowledge that every DBA should be able to perform even under heavy pressure, early in the morning, while suffering from sleep deprivation, or with a Dilbert style PHB looking over your shoulder. The optional tasks cover many different facets of MySQL.

Exam candidates will get their own MySQL instance with which to do their assignments. When they have completed all they can or time runs out, the instance is checked to see how well the DBA certification candidate was able to shape MySQL to what was desired. No more will you have to remember if the -p switch is for the port, password, or something else that begins with the letter 'p'.

Right now hands-on or performance based tests are on the bleeding edge of technology for testing companies (Pearson Vue, Prometric, Kryterion, etc.) are looking for robust and secure ways to offer these exams. So the DBA 5.1 Exam will have only limited availability until the exam vendors can support us. But the exam will be at the April MySQL Users Conference and part of MySQL for Database Administrator Classes.

If you are studying the MySQL 5.0 DBA material and are ready to take an exam, please do so! We will not be expiring these certifications and they are still a good judge of your knowledge of MySQL.

So why change the format at this time? How many times have you heard that a certification is not worth the paper it is written on? Funny the same folks do not say the same thing about car drivers licenses or pilot licenses. The reason is that for those certification there is a major component of hands-on testing. The folks who earn the MySQl DBA 5.1 Certification can really administer a database.

Employers will know that a job candidate with a MySQL 5.1 Certification has proven their proficiency with a real database under demanding circumstances. This certification is earned by hard work and not rote memorization.

I will miss the study guides and have found both editions to be valuable references. MySQl Certification will no longer have a hand in the process of creating the study guides and the previous authors are extremely busy. And with hands-on exams we can tell you want you need to do to pass the exam and that you will see in parts 2 and 3 of this blog.


Shlomi Noach said...


This is all great news. The 5.0 was really picky at times.
I wonder, however: how was the difficulty-level of the exam measured? How did you decide it wasn't too easy or too hard?


Dave Stokes said...

The exam was designed so that someone could pas it after taking the MySQL for DBAs class. So it is easier than the 5.0 DBA. But that does not mean it is easy.

The tasks are modeled on what DBA due on a regular basis. Is something like using a binary log and a backup hard? For some no, for some yes. We generated a list of common tasks as a first step.

Then we ran a series of proposed tasks through some serious DBA talent. That was followed by a proof of concept where tasks were tested against a live DB. At this point the emphasis was on tailoring the wording.

During the 'soft launch', we have had folks say that the exam was tough and a good judge of skills.

Felix said...

Definitely right about the driver's and pilot's licenses.

Ashley said...

Hi Dave,

Can I ask what you mean exactly about the 5.1 exams being "part of MySQL for Database Administrator Classes"? Does that mean we'd be able to take the exam at the end of the course? I've already taken the 5.0 course but would consider it again for 5.1, especially if the exam is included long before it's available in test centers.


Dave Stokes said...

Ashley -- you are correct. MySQl Training will have a major revision of the DBA class materials out by the end of this month and they carved out time for the new DBA 5.1 exam to be taken in class. And the price of the class remains unchanged.

BTW the classroom book is work the price of the class alone. But then you add in the skills and knowledge of one our instructors and the value goes way up.

Anonymous said...

May I know if the result is instant or it takes a few days to obtain the result for this performance based exam?

Thank you.

peterandrews said...

Hi Dave I just passed the CMA and it was multiple choice. I wan't to do the OCMDBA next month and was wondering if the format will be the same?

Cheers from the UK

Dave Stokes said...

Peter -- congrats -- pretty much the same format! Good luck!!