Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Where can I purchase MySQL sample exams?

For some reason the MySQL examinations have escaped the notice of the test bank world. I will admit to being a little disappointed when I was studying for my CMDBA exams (before I was a MySQL employee) to find no additional study materials other than the MySQL 5.0 Certification Study Guide. The study guide is great but grad school taught me their is no preperation better than overkill. Today I was forwarded the question that titles this entry and I replied that the test bank companies offer no sample exams.

There are some example questions that I modeled closely to the questions you will see on the six MySQL exams. Previously there had been some questions from the 4.x exams that did not reflect the current material.

Test banks are not a panacea. Some are a pan of #$%@!!! I spent twenty bucks on one when studying for the Linux Professional Institute levels I & II exams that were very good. The exams had a lot of material on modules and up to them I had been using very minimal kernels. So the test bank really helped in that case. I have also seen the materials for a very popular certification that teach the test and leave under-trained people who can not do the real world work in their wake.

MySQL's training is a great deal and the instructors are top notch. The student guides are excellent prep material for the certification exams. I really recommend these classes if you are serious about MySQL mastery.

So, does anyone know of any MySQL test banks? I would like to see them and I do not mind being proved wrong.

Monday, January 28, 2008

New vendor-neutral database certification

This March you can start earning a vendor-neutral 'certification focuses on universal database design principles and SQL. Aimed at database programmers and administrators alike, the exam helps solve the problem of poorly designed databases and validates foundational knowledge of any database, regardless if it’s Oracle, IBM, DB2, MySQL or others.'

The good folks at at CIW-Certified.com have the details at http://www.ciw-certified.com/exams/1d0541.asp and I wish them luck. It is very hard to stay vendor neutral and cover enough detail. The LPI Linux exams felt stunted to me on areas like backup, software updates, and best practices. My fingers are cross that the CIW folks have all those sort of problems worked out of their exam. I will look into this cert when March rolls around.

I recently got my eyes opened to a lot of things in Oracle world from meeting George Trujillo , one of MySQL's Senior Instructors at the recent All Company Meeting. George, aside from being an amazing guy, was able to explain in clear detail how bind variables and executions plans work in the Oracle environment in a way that sunk in with me. All great stuff but it would not be on a vendor-neutral exam. Maybe we need a series like the 'Dummies' books that covers one vendors DB for experienced DBAs from another vendor's DB.

My experience with database design in the real world never matched what you would find in textbooks. One company still used data column names with rules left over from punch card days that sought to minimize the use of vowels. And different projects would use the same three to five letter vowel-less names over so that you would never know if 'stckhnd' was 'stock on hand' or if the item has a stick for a handle, 'stick handled'. Then came the Java happy years where variables reached new lengths and tested your typing skills. Looking up a variable became a genealogical exercise of often overloaded proportions.

Hopefully this new certification can establish itself and rid the world of 'stckhnd' type problems forever.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

How will Sun change the MySQL Certifications?

I received the following questions about MySQL Certification today:

I was thinking about getting the Developer and DBA MySQL 5
certifications in short time. But yesterday I received the news that
Sun is buying MySQL and I don´t know how is this going to affect the
certifications. Please could you give me some information about it?
should I try to get the certification now or should I wait until Sun
takes in charge of the MySQL certifications? Please give me some
detailed information about all related issues with the certifications.

Sun's purchase of MySQL still has a lot of details to be worked out but I sincerely doubt their main focus will be on changing MySQL Certification. The major change in the MySQL Certification material will be when MySQL 6.0 is fully released, hopefully late 2008.

BTW MySQL 6.0 will have a lot of features you have dreamed about having as well as some blockbuster surprises that will knock you socks off. The list of features we were shown at the MySQL All Company Meeting confirmed my belief that the engineers in the company are amazing professionals.

Of course more features means a richer environment to choose questions from for certification. And more things to study for the 6.0 exams!

The current exam prep materials are very good. The MySQL 5.0 Certification Study Guide is the base for three of the MySQL Certifications -- Associate, Developer and DBA. And anyone seriously thinking about Cluster Certification needs to order their MySQL 5.1 Cluster Exam Certification Guide from Lulu.com -- It is a great read and will greatly expand your knowledge.

There is no reason to wait for later date if you are considering taking any of the MySQL Certification exams. And there is probably a Pearson VUE test center very close to you.

MySQL is constantly bombarded by companies seeking those with MySQL Certifications. For an example, please check out http://forums.mysql.com/read.php?6,192747,192747#msg-192747 where Brain not only wins a free pass to the 2008 MySQL Users Conference but got the hot job.

If you have any questions about MySQL Certification or suggestions for future exams, please send them to me.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Certification Tests

Computer certification tests are often dreaded by those of us who have to take them. After many years of taking certification tests on everything from TCP/IP networks, Redhat Linux, network switches to Paypal programming, I am now on the other side of the coin as the MySQL Certification Team.

Recently I spoke with someone who did not enjoy taking certification tests. He found the cost of exams, finding a test center, studying for the exams, creating time in a an already busy schedule for the test date, and traveling to the test center a challenge but not the big issue. What really bothered him was the clock, omnipresent on the screen, quickly subtracting time until he had to finish.

He said his eyes were always drawn to the counter despite his best efforts. Like the raven in the famous Poe poem, the clock seemed to both mock and infuriate him. And he asked me what I did about the clock when I was testing.

The most popular MySQL Certification tests are seventy questions to be completed in ninety minutes. If you budget one minute per question, you should have twenty minutes to spare at the end. The problem is that some questions take a few seconds and others could use hours.

So what to do?

First, read each question from state to finish. Do not skip words, do not assume ANYTHING, and read all the answers. You want to pick the best answer. The best answer may not be the perfect answer.

Michael Feldman's What Do You Know radio program has a disclaimer on their quiz that states the answers are well thought out and reasonable but false and misleading questions are par for course. The same goes for what you are facing.

Pearson VUE (and most other testing companies) have a check box on each question so you can review questions later. If you read the question and can not make what you feel is the right choice, check the 'review' box and go to the next question. Spending more than a minute on each question is going to put you behind the pace mentioned earlier.

You may find other questions later in the exam trigger the right synapses to get the answer for the skipped question.

So you come to the last question and you are ready to review the skipped questions. Now you have to check the clock to see how much time you have remaining. Quickly estimate how much time you can budget for each question left unanswered.

Now you can attack the last, unanswered questions. Read the question one more time completely. Eliminate any obviously bad potential answers. From the remaining candidates, pick the answer you feel the most comfortable using.

Sometimes what remains is not much of a choice. Was the flag to read from a configuration file -f or -F? Being intimate with the test subject helps but sometimes you will be making your best guess.

After answering all the questions marked for review, it is time to finish the exam. Most of the programs will tell you if you passed or failed immediately. Sometimesyou have to wait for the results to be sent to you at a later date.

Often times you can practice with test exam software that is similar to what you will find in the test center. When I was taking the Linux Professional I & II exams, I found these test banks useful and fairly inexpensive. But there were no test banks that I could find for the MySQL CMDEV or CMDBA exams when I decided to earn a database certification.

Hopefully your prep materials had test questions at the end of each chapter or at the end of the book that you know cold before you schedule your test date. If not, you may be wasting your money.

Later I will post some pointers specific to the MySQL exams (Associate, Developer, DBA and Cluster).