Arien vs. The World

Posts Tagged ‘exam

I finally took the first part of the MySQL Certification Exam and… it went quite well! I passed with a wide margin, although since I didn’t study much I couldn’t get an outstanding mark.

The exam was not easy, but didn’t feel that hard either. It contained 70 questions, most of them with multiple answers. I had to sign some sort of NDA before the exam, so unfortunately I can’t give details on the contents of the questions. So I will just say: study hard and make sure you understand all the lessons.

Maybe it sounds a bit silly that I give advice such as “study hard”, while I also said a few lines above that I didn’t study much. Well, I’m part of the lucky group of people who just need to read something once or twice to remember it, so I don’t have to study for days to pass an exam. It’s not really photographic memory, just feels easy to remember certain things (not everything). That’s how I passed most of my exams when I was in primary and high school. It didn’t always work with things like Maths, where you have to fully understand, rather than simply memorize, but then I also understand things quickly, so it wasn’t a problem either. It just required a little more effort than usual.

Nowadays, this “ability” of being able to remember things easily has diminished, probably because of underusing it. But this exam proved it still works for me. Which doesn’t mean it will work for you. So I won’t tell you that it’s an easy exam and you can pass it without studying. Please, do study and make sure you understand what the book is telling you before attempting to pass it. If you do that, you don’t have to be scared.

Good luck! 🙂

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When I started studying for the MySQL Certification Exam I thought the first chapters of the book would be rather boring. But at least that didn’t happen with chapter 5, which talks about data types. I have probably been lazy on reading the documentation of the last versions of MySQL (or all versions in general), but I did learn a lot in this chapter.

For example, I thought the VARCHAR type could only hold up to 255 characters on MySQL. And welllllllll… That was true until the version 5.0.3, which allowed VARCHAR to hold up to 65.535 characters. That’s quite a huge leap, and I really wasn’t aware of it, pfff. I usually take TEXT as the field type when I have something that might be bigger than 255 characters, but from now on, VARCHAR it is!

Also, I saw that DATETIME fields take a lot of space compared to the other temporal types… It’s cheaper to store DATE and TIME separatedly, heh. Oh well, that’s another mistake I won’t make again.

I also learned a bit more about collations and differences between them (binary or non-binary, case (in)sensitive, etc). I always kind of wondered why we were using this and not that collation but wasn’t curious enough to look for the answer or ask about it. Now I know, and the book explanation is great.

But it wasn’t all about new things for me. Fortunately I could recognize most of the things I read on this chapter, so I didn’t feel like a complete ignorant :P. For example, I knew a great deal about the SET type, since I’ve used it before, and how it differs from ENUM fields. One funny thing that someone mentioned when we were checking our exam answers today was, that ENUM fields can hold so many members that it would be easy to add the names of all the towns in Spain into one of these. There was a general LOL about it, but after that session I was looking up some VARCHAR vs CHAR debate information and found this post on the MySQL Performance Blog. Turns out his idea isn’t really that crazy (performance-wise, at least).

Talking about VARCHAR vs CHAR, I was also successfully able to explain why CHAR might be better in some cases than VARCHAR (even if it takes more space). This wasn’t explained in this chapter and I found it weird, but I’m glad we got to talk about it, generated a nice debate for the peeps remaining in the class (some had left already) and nice conclusions.

Ah well, from this chapter I’ve learned and shared my knowledge and I’ve had quite some fun reading it. And I definately won’t let all these little pearls go to waste. From now on, I’m going to be more careful when I create new tables. The next step will be to learn to create better queries (or maybe find out that the ones I write are already super efficient… but that’s wishful thinking :P).

I hope the rest of the book is as interesting or more. This was about the best thing that happened today at work and I want it to stay fun and challenging!

As I commented earlier in the blog (time sure goes fast; was that really 4 months ago??), at work we have as objective for all us Web Developers to pass the MySQL 5.0 Certification this year. This certification consists of two exams: MySQL Developer and MySQL DBA. Both of them have two parts, so that’s actually 4 tests to take. But we are only required to take the MySQL Developer ones, not the DBA.

MySQL 5.0 Certification Study Guide

MySQL 5.0 Certification Study Guide

For this task, we were given this huge book to study, 650 pages long! Although, we “only” need the first 350 that are aimed at the MySQL Developer exam. The book comes with a CD with some sample questions, although we’ve been told that these are much easier than the ones in the real exams, so I’m glad we’re having some practicing sessions at work to test our knowledge and share results together.

For the record, one of us already took the exam and passed without too much trouble (so it can be done, ha!). But gah, I dislike multi choice exams with passion… I’ve always been clumsy with this kind of exams, forgetting a bit here and there and… bleh. I’m confident that I can pass it, but I really want to get a good grade and multi choice isn’t the best for it.

But whatever, I’m getting all the bad thoughts from my mind and I’m going to do my best on this. I started reading the book and so far it seems easy, mainly because I’m refreshing things I’ve been using for almost 10 years. Things will start getting nastier in the second part of the book, I bet. I have seen views, stored procedures and triggers in the manuals, but never actually had the chance to use them (well, I did use views once, but just for testing purposes). The examples in the book seem very clear, hopefully it won’t be too boring and I’ll get quickly through all of it 🙂

Good luck to myself (and my colleagues)!

At work we can ask for formation, courses, etc. to expand our knowledge in our areas of interest. Finally we have resources dedicated exclusively for this task, and woah, they’re out of bubblegum! They want us to take the MySQL Certification exams this year, to know PHP5 as if we had coded it ourselves and so on. It’s nice to know that formation is now really a priority in the company, although it comes with small nasty surprises.

Like today’s. We were told a month or so ago that there would be an exam about PHP5 and MySQL Soon(tm). And that “Soon(tm)” was actually this morning. We have a meeting scheduled, and when we get there, bam! “Hi guys, enjoy the exam, k?”. Would have been a great moment to make us a pic, I bet.

Oh well, I never liked surprise exams, but the purpose of this one was more like an autoevaluation, so it wasn’t that bad. I got to the conclusion that I should reread the theory and the documentation of PHP again, because even though I knew what some of the questions were refering to, I couldn’t find the words to describe them. And yes, much to my dismay there were a few things I couldn’t answer because I didn’t know or had completely forgotten… So I hope I have some time to study, I surely can use it.

On a less self-depressing note, tomorrow the English classes start again at work! I love to have this small break. On hard work days it’s so relaxing to go there and have fun while polishing my English skills… Tiny things like this make this job worthwhile in the worst moments 🙂


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