SQL MCM Day 8: The First Weekly Exam

Here’s everything you need to know to pass the MCM written exams:

Before you get here, read the prerequisites.


And again.

And again.

My kind of email
My kind of email

Do the demos.  Run the scripts.  Explain them out loud.  Teach the workings to your pet hamster.  Be completely comfortable with everything covered in the prerequisite reading.  The one week of training is nowhere near enough to take you from zero to hero, as they say – if you don’t already have a very solid background in the material, you’re not going to make the cut.

I was the first guy to finish the two-hour exam on Monday morning, and as I waited for the other candidates to finish, I thought I’d done really well.  But as each attendee came out and we talked about our experiences, we realized that we hadn’t done quite as well as we’d thought.  Within an hour, we were all pretty sure we were on the borderline between pass and fail, and perhaps even trending toward the fail area.

Our results were delivered via email, and I breathed a big sigh of relief when I saw that I’d passed.  Unfortunately, two of my colleagues didn’t make it, and I was really surprised.  I wouldn’t have correctly predicted who was going to pass and who was going to fail.

Looking back at the test and looking forward at this week’s material, I’m pretty concerned about my chances on the next exam.  I’m going to have to study my rear off, because I really, really want to pass these tests the first time.  If you fail, you don’t get to retake the exams right away, which means the material is going to slowly trickle out of your brain.  Your best shot by far is passing that first exam.

I’ve started to settle down into a schedule:

  • 5 AM – wake up, read the news, hop in the shower.
  • 5:30 AM – drive to Starbucks or McDonald’s to get coffee and breakfast
  • 6 AM – arrive in the classroom to start studying
  • 8 AM – class starts
  • 6-6:30 PM – class finishes, attendees talk for a while to decompress
  • 7-7:30 PM – go somewhere for dinner
  • 8-8:30 PM – arrive back at the hotel room and crack the books open again
  • 10 PM – go to bed

I’m selfish – I get 7 hours of sleep – but I’ve seen other attendees sending emails until 1-2AM, quizzing each other through our distribution list.  I can’t operate like that.  The less sleep I get, the less focused I am during the day, and the tougher it is to really absorb some of the monstrously detailed material.  We take a 5-10 minute break every 60-90 minutes, and I find it helps to take a walk outside to see the sun and get some fresh air.

Random unrelated quote:

Attendee: “Why is it that all the instructors know you?”
Me: “I’m huge on MySpace.”

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SQL MCM Day 7: One Week Down
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SQL MCM Day 9: Taking Good Notes

11 Comments. Leave new

  • Aye, Brent, sleep is good (and, yes, this is coming from the guy who has the catch phrase, “Sleep is for mere mortals”). The studies are clearly on your side for this one. That was something I remember them hammering into us constantly at The Citadel. With the lifestyle of a military college, time was always at a premium. So they were quick to remind us that if we tried to skimp on sleep, we were ultimately doing more harm than good with respect to our classes. Then we start operating at a deficit because we’re trying to learn the material we didn’t pick up the first time and we’re caught in a vicious cycle.

    These updates are great, my friend, for the rest of us who may one day consider undergoing one of the Master curriculums. Thank you for writing about your details.

  • Congratulations Brent! Best of luck with the rest.

  • Congrats Brent! Great to see the hard work paying off! You sound like your having alot of fun too. Hard work but fun also. Inspiring, that’s how DBA’s do it.. lol lol

    I’ve been following the “MCM Chronicles” like an HBO series! Love it!

  • We’re all going to have to start calling you “Dr Brent” soon … congratulations, your hard work is paying off …

    Now the pressure is really on to continue to do well, eh?

  • Dunning and Kruger published a study about the behavior of incompetent people. (NY Times article) In the study they found that incompetent people don’t know they’re incompetent and overestimate how they think they fared on a particular test. Even after being shown other peoples unmarked test, they didn’t revise their estimate.

    On the other hand, people who did well revised their estimates in the correct direction.

    The point is that it sounds like you’re in the latter category and that’s encouraging, no?

    Good luck with the rest of it Brent.

  • Christian Hasker
    March 23, 2010 11:27 am

    Well done Brent! Hope week 2 is as successful. I liked Manuel’s quote about following your MCM like an HBO series. I find myself actually looking forward to reading your stuff on your blog, which is quite a change.

  • Erin Stellato
    March 23, 2010 1:14 pm

    Congratulations Brent! I’ve been a long-time reader but have never posted, but I wanted to thank you for providing updates in the midst of all your studying. I am following along and pulling for you!

  • Just wanted to drop a note and add my congratulations. Can’t wait to hear more about what sort of questions you had to answer in these exams. I am sure you will post more details when you have a chance.

    Good luck!


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