Tips about exam 70-431 (MCTS: SQL Server 2005)

On Friday, 9 February, 2007 at about 11:30 AM I passed exam 70-431 and earned the title of MCTS: SQL Server 2005; now that the excitement is growing dim, I'd like to take the time to share my impressions on the new certification model embraced by Microsoft.
First of all, I've been quite impressed by the number of simulations included in the exam. For those of you who are wondering, simulations are a (relatively) new kind of questions, very different from the usual multiple choice ones we were used to face in the past: they consist in a series of interactive screens which (almost) closely resemble the ones you should see while working with the GUI tools included with SQL Server 2005. So, to pass this kind of questions, you should be familiar with these tools.

I must confess, I was always used to think a good DBA should know how to get the job done without GUI tools. As a professional developer, I like very much to code; and I like to work with my SQL Server using just clean TSQL statements. But the truth is that GUI tools often quicken the steps needed to do complete everyday jobs: think about restoring a database which has say 20 transactional backups to restore in order to get it functional... Admit it, how many lines of TSQL code are you going to type? Isn't it faster to click 4 buttons inside Management Studio? Sure, and Microsoft realized it. So, to pass this exam you should also know where to watch inside and how to work with Management Studio, Configuration Manager, Surface Area Configuration and the Profiler.
To my surprise, the number of questions regarding system views (most importantly the objects belonging to the sys schema) was bigger than the number of DML/DDL related questions; I think one of the most important requirement of this exam is to prove the attendee really knows how to check for performance problems inside SQL Server and how to fix them. Index creation and mainteinance is also very important: you should really know how indexes work, clustered vs. non clustered indexes differences and how they relate to performance, columns inclusion inside them, XML indexes (primary, kinds of secondary); two or so of the questions related to full text indexes mainteinance and updates. The total number of questions for my exam was 52.

The result of my exam really dazzled me; I got a 1000/1000 points! Since I'm a developer, I wasn't expecting so much from an exam which should belong more to a system administrator than to my role.
I prepared for the exam with the aid of two books (and Books Online, of course!): MCTS SQL Server 2005 - Self paced training kit from Microsoft Press and MCTS Microsoft SQL Server 2005 - Implementation and Maintenance from Sybex. Both are really good books but I found the Sybex one to be clearer in some aspects; the Microsoft Press one is really detailed and sometimes could lend you to confusion. My advice is to buy both the books and grab the core concepts from the Sybex book and deepen with the Microsoft one.


  • Steve,

    I've found that book not too well structured to hold all of the concepts behind this MCTS certification. I suggest you to study both the book from Sybex and the one from Microsoft Press instead.
    I confirm my exam contained 52 questions, don't know if this number is fixed or not.

    Good luck for your exam!

  • 52 questions inculding the simulation questions or what,and the simulation question is counted just like the normal question in markes or much more???

  • I am taking the MCTS SQl Server 2005 exam next month, wish me luck!

  • Hi Steve

    I am preparing for the Exam can you pls help me with the simulation where I can some practice simulation

  • Hi,

    congrats, I am starting to study for the MCTS. Can you please guide me how to go about it? Thanks in advance

  • How many simulations quiestions did you find ?

    How long did it take you to study for this exam ?

  • i'm starting prepare for MCTS too, wish me a good luck!

  • What scares me about the 70-431 exam is the huge amount of complicated T-SQL commands. Look at the syntax of any T-SQL command with all its options; many many options, how can I remember them. Do I need to remember all these instructions for the exam. Please let me know.

  • Hey, Guy's I'm a college freshman that loves T Sql and Sql Server I've been practicing for 70 431 for 3 mnths but almost every exam and book tells me i need real world experiences. i've done my best with the 2 sql servers @ home, but no real user's of my data! do you have any insight that soothes my insecurities as a industry rookie??

  • First of all, congratulations! I've already bought Sybex books for MCTS and it's a good book. Thank you for the advices. I'm planning to take this exam too next month.

  • mobasha:
    Yes, the simulations are counted as normal questions.

    Try with a good exam simulator, like Transcender.

    1/3 simulations, 2/3 objective questions.
    I've been studying for this exam for... Well, 7 years of practice (starting with SQL Server 7.0, of course, then 2000 and 2005), 6 months of SQL Server 2000 theory back in 2002 and 6 months of SQL Server 2005 theory.

    You SHOULD remember as many T-SQL commands as you can because some questions (CTEs, backups, etc.) are T-SQL related.

    Well, real world experiences would certainly help a lot with your exam because constant practice on "real" cases would make you remember the shortest path to get things done. And some exam simulations ask you just to do that.


  • congrats on your exam, hope u will earn the title of MCTS: SQL Server 2005...
    i am starting prepare for MCTS too, i believe u guys help me to earn the title..please can u mail me and guide me with some hints and tips at, i have those two books with me.

    thank you guys in advance

  • congrats, I am starting to study for the MCTS. Can you please guide me how to go about it? Thanks in advance

  • Hi Everyone can you please provied me some e-books in preparing MCTS Sql Server 2005.Guys can u please provied me how to approch to crack the MCTS Sql server 2005.
    Please guys please sharing ur experience
    I wataing for ur reply

    Take care

  • Hi

    I would like to know how much time it took for you to go through these two books and how many hours/day you studied these books?


  • Congrats!
    I'm preparing for 70-431 also, please can you send some simulator question and other practice questions to me:


  • Hi All

    Im currently preparing for my MCTS SQL Server 2005, i have the study material from SYBEX, MCTS: MICROSOFT SQL SERVER 2005 IMPLEMENTATION AND MAINTENANCE: STUDY GUIDE, would that be fine for the exam?

    Also if its possible, please mail( me tips and extra study material, that you might have.


  • I had my MCTS exam yesterday. I did very well in non performance based section(multiple choice questions) of the exam and scored 1000/1000 but in simulation i was able to score only 500/1000. In order to pass the exam you have to pass in both the sections. Can anyone please help me how to prepare for simulation question that be really helpful.
    [Thanks to Microsoft's second shot offer i still have one more free attempt ;)]


  • i will write the exam in next two weeks i want you to advice i should be reading or hours to read per day, and help me with smulation exams of MCTS 70-431 my email address is

  • I want to write my MCTS (70-431) exam, is it difficult?
    And, I have Pass-Guaranteed (Questions and answers), will that help?

  • thanx for all the infor realy helped me especialy links by bla bla...

  • Hi

    i am preparing for MCTS 70-431 and reading the sybex book.
    can anyone provide me with a few braindumps esp. the simulation questions coz they are a newer concept.
    i couldnot download from the links sent by bla bla


  • hi guys,

    this is the most important link for the guys preparing for MCTS 70-431.

    refer to this link:

    this is most helpful link for the guy who is preparing for the exam. Also mail me at if u need the material, make sure the subject is "Request For MCTS 70-431".

    Thanks and happy preparation!!!

  • I just passed that test. There are some questions that are tricky in the language... you need to read four or five times...

  • Im having trouble opening the .rar file, can anybody help?

  • I passed the test recently with 859/960

    Patricio is correct about questions being tricky. Take your time and read the questions. Good luck to all and thanks.


  • I am using the MCTS Cram Book by Thomas Moore. Please tell me is it enough

  • Hi bla bla Your link helps me a lot thanks for that.
    Today I cleared my 70-431 with 98%.

  • I am also using the Thomas Moore cram book. Is that book sufficient to crack the exam?

  • How did you practise for simulation questions?

  • i do not have much knowledge about the performance side of dql currently, all i am good at sql is a previous experience of working with sql joins, sp,triggers etc. creating db etc.Do you think this exam can be taken and passed by someone who is like a beginner and hasnt worked on sql in a big network set up in real life?

  • some one said "test king" has the best prep material for exam 70-431, is that true? any one used "test king prep kit"?


  • Hi all, I'm currently preparing for exam 70-431. But I have little or no idea at all where to begin. Could anyone please provide me some steps on how to start and the where to find the review materials? Thank you.

  • I am fresher to the development and i am planning to prepare MCTS SQL Server 2008 : Database Development. Please tell me which books are good to get certified.

  • Preparing for SQL 2005 need practice exam kits (simulation and ojectives ouestions)

  • Hi....

    Can i know the exam fee for mcts 70-431 (sqlserver implementation and maintenance)

  • hi im on my way right now to book my exam.. i feel better when i see people got such good marks... i will check the links on this site when i get home... what is the pass rate for this exam??

  • Hi. I have 3-4 years of database development experience. I am preparing for 70-431 exam. While, I read through the whole thread, I have noticed everybody providing email address. Have you received any information in your email? If so, can you please share it in this forum? Thanks.

  • I passed this exam today, just! I got 700! lol.

    If you are going to take this exam make sure you revise the following;

    backup and restore procedures
    query performance (index's)

    also make sure you get hold of some decent simulation questions.

    blah blah's come in very handy! ;)

  • Thanks for the post..I successfully completed th certiciation :)

  • Hey guys i am currently preparing for 70-431 exam. Could you please send me some simulations.My email is Thanks in advanced :)

  • I just started my preparation for MCTS 70-431. i am following MCTS SQL Server 2005 - Self paced training kit from Microsoft Press and MCTS Microsoft SQL Server 2005 - Implementation and Maintenance from Sybex. How much time it will take to prepare for the exam. From where can i find extra material and some sample questions.

  • Thanks for the information,just completed the process of certification.

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