Blog Post

Microsoft Exam 70-451 Wrap Up

This weekend I took and passed Microsoft Exam 70-451 (MCITP: Database Developer 2008). I’m pleased to say my score on this exam was much higher than its prerequisite, 70-433, which I wrote about a few months ago. Much like last time, I am happy to offer my thoughts for those who might be taking this test in the future.

How I Studied

I won’t go as far as saying that I didn’t study this time around. I did do some studying, albeit not much. After reading through the list of topics covered I decided to direct my efforts towards a few areas I felt I could benefit the most from reviewing. For instance, I felt I could benefit much more from studying transaction and concurrency strategies than from studying tables and programming objects.

Honor Student Bumper StickerI did not buy any books, study guides, or practice exams. I did this because I felt I could do fine by reading BOL and blog posts about specific topics. I have nothing against those types of study materials and have benefited from them in the past, I just didn’t feel the need for them this time around. I also had the added security of a second chance as I purchased this exam as part of a Microsoft Certification Pack, which is a great way to go if you plan on taking multiple exams. Buying them in this manner gives you a discount on multiple exams as well as a free “Second Shot” for each one.

Subject Matter

For this exam I was rather pleased with the variety of subject matter covered. I thought the test matched up with the list of topics covered quite nicely and did not feel there was a disproportionate balance of subject matter like I did with 70-433. One thing I did notice was that some topics in the list did not have specific questions dedicated to them, however those that didn’t were usually referenced in other ways, such as being an answer choice for one or more questions.

It seems that the more of these tests I take, the greater my understanding of the intent of the questions. I think the test writers do an excellent job of coming up with scenarios that you’re likely to encounter in real life as opposed to the world of ideal database design. For instance, if a question were to start off with “You are designing a database to store multiple terabytes of video” my first thought would be that I probably wouldn’t design a system that way. True as that may be, it’s quite possible to start a job or consulting gig at a place that has such a system deployed and can’t easily be changed. In that case the best option may be to work with it (at least for the short term).

Test Taking Skills

Once again I can’t over-stress the importance of test taking skills. Unless you are a complete genius, there’s probably going to be at least one question on this (or any) test that you don’t know the answer to. At this point your options are:

A) Leave the question unanswered
B) Pick an answer at random
C) Use your testing skills to eliminate incorrect choices and select an answer from those remaining

Needless to say your best chance of answering correctly lies with option C. When I’ve needed to do this, I’ve always been able to eliminate at least two choices. Here’s an example:

Q: Rachel’s query is the bestest EVAR. What hint did she use when accessing the docHistory table?


We know nothing about Rachel or her query other than it’s on docHistory, so it’s a guessing game at this point. One thing we do know is that NOLOCK and READUNCOMMITTED are equivalent, so A and D can’t be the answer. On top of that RECOMPILE is not a table hint but a query hint, so C is out as well, meaning the answer must be B. Even if you had no clue the READPAST table hint existed, you can arrive at that answer by elimination.

What’s Next

After passing this test I have now completed the prerequisites for the Microsoft Certified Master: SQL Server 2008 knowledge exam. I’ve already had a few people ask me if I’m going to take it. HECK YES! It’s definitely on my list of things to do, but I will be taking some time to prepare for it first. I have no doubt in my mind that I will get there and will work hard in doing so, the only question now is how long it will take me.

Related Posts

By Bob Pusateri

Bob Pusateri is a Microsoft Data Platform MVP, Microsoft Certified Master of SQL Server, speaker, blogger, volunteer, and author who loves finding new and exciting ways to break and fix things. He works as a consultant and architect, specializing in data, virtualization, and cloud technologies.


  • Simon

    Hi Bob,

    This post and the previous about 70-433 I found very interesting. Yesterday I took the 70-433 exam in similar fashion to you. Little prep work, I just read through the list of things they can include. I agree the XML stuff was excessive. I passed with 760 which sounded bad too me, despite that it said that I was strong in every area. So a very confusing scoring system.

    I intend to take the 70-451 too and the DBA 70-432 and 70-450 soon after. Have you done these? You say you intend to do the MCM but don’t you need these first?

    I like the idea of the MCM but have you seen the cost?!?! I look forward to reading your future posts about going for the MCM.

    • Bob Pusateri

      Hi Simon,

      Congrats on passing 70-433! I really wish they would state what the maximum possible score is.

      Yes, I have passed 70-432 and 70-450 already, I just didn’t blog about them and don’t feel like I’d remember enough to write an effective post at this point. Yes MCM is still pricey, but it’s much more affordable than it used to be. To me, the benefits are worth the cost.

      Good luck on your future exams, and thanks for reading!

  • Hi Bob,

    Thanks for sharing your 70-451 exam experiences, I recently passed 70-433 and planning to take 70-451 next, Any reference to books or articles would be a great help ?



    • Bob Pusateri

      Hi Arunraj,

      Congrats on passing 70-433! Like I said in the post, the best resource I found for 70-451 was Books Online. I basically just went through the list of topics provided by Microsoft and made sure I was comfortable with each of them, using BOL to fill in the gaps when I wasn’t. Hope this helps and best of luck!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *