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I've been working through the exam guides for the new 70-461 MCSE data exams and i'm at a point where I want to practice my T-SQL. Does anyone know of any good resources whereby scenarios are posed and you have to create a solution through practice. For example, when I learned C# I would work towards a goal of creating a certain type of system or project like a web app or a console app that did a certain thing. I'm struggling to come up with test scenarios to improve my T-SQL experience because I don't have a frame of reference for what professionals in SQL do in their day jobs.

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    One way is to answer questions on stackoverflow.com. There are a lot of requests there asking for crazy/complex tsql solutions. Try to figure out an answer and learn from answers by others. Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 15:36

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Microsoft has some virtual labs you could work through here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/hh859579.aspx including one on the t-sql improvements for 2012 among other things. They aren't directed at the exams but are still good. Personally I like using practice tests such as those from Transcender and Measureup. And last but certainly not least prowl the forums and try to answer peoples questions. These are true examples of people working as DBAs and even if you can't answer the question, reading it and then reading other people's answers will help you out tremendously.

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  • Thanks, some great suggestions! I've got the practice exams with the training guides but they are all multiple choice and i'm told the exam doesn't follow a multiple choice format in its entirety. Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 15:43
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    No, and certainly don't expect the exams to tell you everything you need to know. I usually take the practice exams to point out areas I need to study further. If I get a question wrong on query hints, I study query hints in general, not just that particular one. That and to be honest, to practice taking exams. There is certainly some stamina involved in going through 40-50 questions where some of them may have full page questions, all in a time limit and you have to stay on your game till the end. Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 16:36
  • When you say you "study" query hints, whats your strategy? Do you use management studio and just keep practicing your code skills? How did you learn to pass this exam? Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 21:29
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    Well it certainly helps that I've been a DBA for something like 20 years. Mostly I just have to study the specifics of things that I don't use on a regular basis. In the case of query hints I went to BOL looked them up and read the list a couple of times. If it is something like the MERGE statement or partitioning I'll read BOL then force myself to write a working example without reference to BOL. Any mistakes and I start again until it works flawlessly first try. Then I do it again a week later. Commented Aug 23, 2013 at 1:18
  • I also wrote a blog on another method I use here: sqlstudies.com/2013/01/07/how-i-like-to-learn-a-t-sql-command Commented Aug 23, 2013 at 1:19
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You could try to answer query-related questions here or on Stack Overflow. The nice thing about this is that you are solving real problems, not made-up ones, and you can also gain knowledge by seeing how other folks solve those same problems. You're also helping folks, potentially.

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