Getting Certified with MySQL

Certifications are „in“. Nowadays you can get certifications for almost every aspect of life. Admittedly, some of those certs you can just get by surviving a boring day in a classroom or more luckily for having joined a 2 week 20k yacht trip offshore hawaii that was just regularly interrupted by attending conference speaches, workshops or lessons.

Let’s face reality: Your BOSS will not acknowledge the one and neither pay for the other. So, if you are a programmer who writes a software which uses a MySQL database you should consider the MySQL certification, even if you are convinced that you are good. Except you would only use it for decorating purposes. I for myself want to become a „Certified MySQL 5.0 Developer (CMDEV)“ which sounds pretty cool but it’s not that easy.

The preparation

A few colleagues and I met once a week to work through the book „MySQL 5.0 Certification Study Guide“ and the sample questions as the book covers rather well the topics for both exams. For the first exam you should read the chapters 1 till 11. Some explanations in the book were completely new to me like some functionalities of the database server as well in the client software that are provided by MySQL AB.

It took me roughly 3 months to read those 11 chapters twice and try to answer all sample questions. Normally, it is not funny when your daily way to work takes an hour but in this case it was rather useful as I go by train and hence had time to read. I strongly recommend that you do read the mentioned chapters if you want to pass the exam.

The surprise came in chapter 9 in which a comment stated that it is not necessary for the exam to exactly know all parameters of all functions that the MySQL Server supports in Queries or in Expressions, however it is expected that you do at least know that these functions exist. You can find a list of these functions online in the MySQL manual as well as in the printed version. So after months of learning or two working weeks, if you want, I decided to go for it.

Test

I felt quite uncomfortable when the clerk at the test center told me to get a coffee and wait till the test client had fetched 1490 questions: one thousand four hundred and ninety questions – where did I go wrong? My question if this was the correct test was, however, answered positively. The test client started and after having confirmed the rules of the test the client came up with 70 questions. Quite a relieve.

Just a comment about cheating: Don’t. Most test centers have video surveillance and they will definitively use it. And, MySQL is quite serious about the test if you consider that the client fetches all questions and then randomly chooses 70 out of these to make every test for each candidate quite unique.

Some questions were rather easy, appr. 1/3 third of them only took me 10 seconds to check and click to the next. Half of them were sometimes strange: you need to read the full output of
DESCRIBE table presented on the screen, to interpret the contents of column KEY correctly and then answer questions about the resulting contents of the table after an ALTER or UPDATE statement or recognize that errors might occure. The rest was really tough. Those questions were not in the book. Just logical follow-ups of things you can learn from the book or which you
know from experience. To be honest, some of them I would have never thought of in my daily work. After 46 minutes and 37 seconds I finally answered those 70 questions – I just wanted to finish it and maybe the one or the other question I could have answered correctly if I had spent more time.

I did pass the first of two exams and I have the impression that the cert not only states that you can professionally use MySQL servers but that you are also able to quickly detect and correct any errors occuring in an application using MySQL.

Now, I will give my brain a rest for week at the trains and read a crime novel and after that I will start over again to get ready for the second part.

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