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Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012 (70-461)

Querying Microsoft SQL Server is the foundation of all certifications from Microsoft that are related to database and business intelligence.

In particular, it is one of the three required exam for Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): SQL Server 2012 certification and MCSE: Business Intelligence.


If you are wondering where is the equivalent exam for the latest version of SQL Server which is SQL Server 2014, there won't be one.  Microsoft has concluded that the changes in SQL Server 2014 only focus on performance tuning and high availability.  These topics will be incorporate into other exams that are part of MCSE certification.

So if you are planning or started on preparing for exam 70-461, you can be reassured that you won't have to be re-certified with an updated exam for a while.

This is the official words from Microsoft:

  • The MCSA: SQL Server 2012 credential and associated exams (461/462/463) will remain in market without any alterations. No MCSA: SQL Server 2014 credential will be offered.
  • In April 2014, the MCSE: Data Platform (464/465) and MCSE: Business Intelligence (466/467) exams will be appropriately updated with SQL Server 2014 topics. The exam numbers will remain the same.
This exam is meant to be taken by SQL Server database administrators, implementers, system engineers, and developers who have two or more years of experience and are seeking to prove their skills and knowledge in writing queries.

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Exam Details

Cost: $150
Time Limit: 3 Hours
Number of Questions: 42-54 Questions
Passing Score: 700 out of 1000
Format: Multiple choice and multiple choice multiple answer
Prerequisites: None
Official Website https://www.microsoft.com/learning/en-us/exam-70-461.aspx

Skills Measured

Create database objects - 24%

  • Create tables without using the built in tools; ALTER; DROP; ALTER COLUMN; CREATE
  • Create indexed views; create views without using the built in tools; CREATE, ALTER, DROP
  • Ensure code non regression by keeping consistent signature for procedure, views and function (interfaces); security implications
  • Create constraints on tables; define constraints; unique constraints; default constraints; primary and foreign key constraints
  • Inserted and deleted tables; nested triggers; types of triggers; update functions; handle multiple rows in a session; performance implications of triggers

Work with data - 27%

  • Use the ranking function to select top(X) rows for multiple categories in a single query; write and perform queries efficiently using the new (SQL 2005/8->) code items such as synonyms, and joins (except, intersect); implement logic which uses dynamic SQL and system metadata; write efficient, technically complex SQL queries, including all types of joins versus the use of derived tables; determine what code may or may not execute based on the tables provided; given a table with constraints, determine which statement set would load a table; use and understand different data access technologies; case versus isnull versus coalesce
  • Identify problematic elements in query plans; pivot and unpivot; apply operator; cte statement; with statement
  • Use appropriate data; understand the uses and limitations of each data type; impact of GUID (newid, newsequentialid) on database performance, when to use what data type for columns
  • New analytic functions; grouping sets; spatial aggregates; apply ranking functions
  • Understand XML datatypes and their schemas and interop w/, limitations and restrictions; implement XML schemas and handling of XML data; XML data: how to handle it in SQL Server and when and when not to use it, including XML namespaces; import and export XML; XML indexing

Modify data - 24%

  • Write a stored procedure to meet a given set of requirements; branching logic; create stored procedures and other programmatic objects; techniques for developing stored procedures; different types of storeproc result; create stored procedure for data access layer; program stored procedures, triggers, functions with T-SQL
  • Given a set of code with defaults, constraints, and triggers, determine the output of a set of DDL; know which SQL statements are best to solve common requirements; use output statement
  • Difference between UNION and UNION all; case versus isnull versus coalesce; modify data by using MERGE statements
  • Understand deterministic, non-deterministic functions; scalar and table values; apply built-in scalar functions; create and alter user-defined functions (UDFs)

Troubleshoot and optimize - 25%

  • Understand statistics; read query plans; plan guides; DMVs; hints; statistics IO; dynamic vs. parameterized queries; describe the different join types (HASH, MERGE, LOOP) and describe the scenarios they would be used in
  • Mark a transaction; understand begin tran, commit, and rollback; implicit vs explicit transactions; isolation levels; scope and type of locks; trancount
  • Evaluate the use of row-based operations vs. set-based operations
  • When to use cursors; impact of scalar UDFs; combine multiple DML operations
  • Implement try/catch/throw; use set based rather than row based logic; transaction management

Study Material


Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012 (70-461) Reviewed by Brandon Oh on Tuesday, March 17, 2015 Rating: 5

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