Not. Quite. There. This Time I Failed the Lab

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Since I’ve been blogging about my progress through the SQL Server MCM certification, it makes sense to follow-up with my latest failure.  If you’re new to these posts, check out my posts on failing, retaking, and then passing the SQL Server MCM Knowledge exam.

Took the Lab

A couple weeks back, after some prodding from others and the realization that I won’t have much more time in the coming months to study, I decided to schedule the MCM lab.  The lab consists of a number of scenarios that must be achieved and a time bucket of just over 5 hours to complete them.  Going into this, I was a little concerned about the format of the questions and then wondered how underwater I would be on them.

Today was the big day and I was up at 5:55 AM for final preparations before taking the test.  These preparations consisted of making sure I was actually awake at 8 AM and not too groggy. 

I had been told that the time would fly by and it did.  The first few questions were great, I feel I handled them very well.  There were a couple more toward the end were easier than I had expected them to be.  Around the middle of the exam, though, I lost track of time and got stuck on a question.  I put the question aside, and opted to come back later.  Towards the end, I found some time to revisit that question.  In the end, though, the time ran out on me so that was it and I was done.  Next came the waiting.

The Results

The waiting didn’t take long and as the title alludes, I failed the SQL Server MCM lab.  Not too unexpected.  I was on the fence when I finished and knew that there were a couple questions that I hadn’t quite nailed.  If I passed it would have been just barely.  But I didn’t pass and I was below the score by enough that it wasn’t just barely.

This means that I am back in the waiting game.  Another 90 days and I can take the lab again – that’s August 15th.  Hopefully, I’ll have more time to study.  I have a good idea where I bombed and what I need to read up on.  How much studying I’ll get in is a bit questionable but this isn’t about what I can cram into my head, it’s about testing what I know.

Don’t Be Afraid

Part of the reason I blog about my failures is that they aren’t really failures in my book.  They are a progress towards a goal.  Take a risk and get certified – you may just find out all the studying you’ve been doing hasn’t been needed – you may already know all the answers. 

Of course, maybe you won’t and you will fail as well. This isn’t the end of the world or something to be ashamed of.  It’s an opportunity to re-calibrate your studying for the next attempt. 

PS – No specifics on the lab since it is covered under an NDA.  Don’t bother asking for that kind of stuff.

  • http://www.sqlsoldier.com Robert L Davis

    Congrats on taking another step closer to being an MCM!! I know a log of great MCMs that didn't pass on their first try. Your definitely in the majority!! You'll get there eventually and the next lab exam will be easier as a result of trying it once already.

    • Jason Strate

      Thanks. The thing I enjoyed about the exam is that I now have a stake in the ground of where I am versus where I need to be. Honestly, I am closer than I thought I was.

  • http://www.scarydba.com Grant Fritchey

    You're a better man than I am Gunga Jason.

    Well done. Both in your attempts and in your willingness to share them. I'd be hiding the whole thing until I succeeded. I like your approach better.

  • http://www.brentozar.com Brent Ozar

    Even getting to this point is a huge achievement, and the fact that you were open about your experience says a lot of good things about you. Nice work, man. Nothing to be ashamed of for sure – like Robert says, I know some absolutely brilliant guys who passed the second time around. Those labs are HARD!

    • Jason Strate

      Thanks, Brent. I'm certain I'll pass next go round, I have a new study list and am working through it now.

  • jamserra

    It must be real difficult just having a vague idea what will be on the test and not knowing the format of the test. But if you come away knowing the areas to work on, then you will have an excellent chance of passing the second time. My big question is: Did you have to pay $2500 to take the test, and do you have to pay $2500 to take it again?

    • Jason Strate

      This first attempt I didn't since I had managed to be one of a few SQL Server MVPs that received a voucher for the beta of the change from old to the new program. Next time I'll have to pay the $2,000. But I'm not too concerned about that – I feel I'll pass next go round and expect to see that time over time in the future.

  • Chris Randall

    Thanks for being willing to share your experiences. I've got my lab exam coming up next week, and despite nearly 20 years of experience with Microsoft certification programs, I have no idea what to expect from this lab format. I do hope that if I don't pass this first time out, I'll have the courage to be open about it as you have.

    Good luck in August!

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