real money growth

investing in you: passing the microsoft 70-761 exam


I’m a huge fan of investing in yourself.  Whether it’s attending community college, a prestigious university, or working toward certifications in your trade, attaining knowledge in your field cannot hurt you.  However, there are many people and institutions out there that try to take advantage by inflating and overselling products that aren’t really needed.

Last March, I decided to pursue my first Microsoft SQL certification in database development.  There are literally thousands of companies out there claiming that they can guarantee, with 100% that by using their product, that you will pass the exam on the first attempt.  Some of these products offered are outrageous in cost.  My strategy: do as much research as possible before spending a dime.

After a few days of research, I discovered that each attempt at passing a Microsoft exam costs $165 USD.  If you fail the test, then you must spend another $165 USD to make another attempt.  After conducting three more hours of research, I uncovered a great Microsoft option called “Certify with Confidence.”  When purchasing this product, directly from Microsoft, you are entitled to two retakes – that’s a total of three test attempts.  The price for the bundle is $265 USD.  Access to a Pearson View practice test is also provided – normally a $100 USD value.

Purchasing the “Certify with Confidence” Microsoft bundle was the easy part.  Then, it was time to start studying.  I relied on the practice test and signed up for a 10-day trial access to Oreilly in order to watch free lectures.  I also read Jon Shaulis’ blog about his test preparation for the exam as he was able to achieve what I was pursuing.

After studying for a week, I booked the exam (9:30 PM PDT on a Tuesday).  I was tired, nervous, and ready to pass the exam and move on to the second exam required.  I ended up running out of time.  Though, I had answered enough questions to earn a 780 – a 700 is required to pass.  I was happy!  I had spent $265 USD and had passed the first exam, frugally.