Friday, March 29, 2013

1Z0-117 -- This Exam is Rough

I took the Oracle Database 11g Release 2: SQL Tuning exam on Monday.  I passed it, but not with nearly as much cushioning between my score and the passing score as I normally do.  This test had concerned me going in like the SQL Expert exam did not.  SQL is SQL.  There are only so many ways to write it and you either understand SQL syntax and functions or you don't.  If you understand SQL and pay attention, all the tricky wording and badly-formatted statements in the world won't make the question impossible to answer.

By contrast, the topics on the SQL Tuning test offered the Oracle Education test-creation team something that they could have used to make a test so filled with low-level details that it would have been impossible to pass without a reference book in hand.  That is obviously not their intent, nor what they did.  However, when studying for an OCE-level test, the question is just how much depth will you need on any given topic to be able to answer the questions that will be asked.

Take the SQL Tuning Advisor for example. If a test with this topic were for an OCA-level certification, you would likely need to be able to define the SQL Tuning Advisor, differentiate it from the SQL Access Advisor, and know what functions it performs.  An OCP-level test might add to that a requirement that you to know how to make use of it, possibly creating a basic SQL tuning task or reporting on one. For an OCE-level test, almost anything about the Advisor is fair game.  Determining just how deep to get into the minutia of the various APIs and capabilities is the tricky bit.  You can read about it, memorize its capabilities, and practice using it; but have you read, memorized, and practiced enough?

Don't take this test lightly.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Grand Opening!

I'm not really sure that starting a blog is a good idea.  This post is less targeted at strangers on the Internet to read than it is for me to read in the future to remind myself that 'I told me so'.  Between writing new books in the Oracle Certification Prep series, answering questions on the OTN and OraFAQ Oracle Certification forums, and writing ezine articles to answer common questions from said certification forums -- most of my spare time that I can devote to writing is fairly well booked. That said, I keep coming up with writing topics that are better suited to a blog than to the other outlets I'm currently using. Also, I keep being told that as an author, I must have a blog in order to connect with my readers.

This blog is not going to be about what I had for breakfast, where I went on vacation, or what amusing things my cat did yesterday. I seldom eat breakfast; hearing about other people's vacations is incredibly boring; finally, I don't own a cat and I'm certainly not going to get one for no better reason than to give me something to blog about. With the exception of this post, I plan to write solely about topics concerning certification.  That will be primarily Oracle certification, but I may hit a couple of others on occasion.

This certainly will not be a daily blog.  I hope that I can update it weekly or biweekly. It remains to be seen if that will actually happen.