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Microsoft 70-461 Value Pack
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Exam Code: 70-461

Exam Name: MCSA Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012/2014

Vendor: Microsoft

Certs Covered: MCSE, MCSA, MCSE: Data Platform, MCSA: SQL Server 2012, MCSA: SQL Server 2012/2014, MCSE: Business Intelligence

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The exam Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012 (exam number 70-461) will give a candidate the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): SQL Server 2012 certification if they pass. The SQL Server 2012 exam by Microsoft gives the candidate a chance to validate their skills that include working with Transact-SQL and understanding the specifics of querying Microsoft SQL Server. This is an associate-level exam intended for SQL Server database administrators, system engineers, and developers who have at least two years of experience with writing queries, and wish to have their skills verified. The field this exam focuses on is database development.

Exam Description

Why is this exam required?

This certification is important for information technology professionals who want advancement in their career path. Completing this exam will prove that they have the important skills required for many computer-related jobs and ready them for progressing to the next level. By receiving the certification for this exam, they are on their way to taking a professional-level exam. The SQL Server 2012 certification is a pre-requisite for Data Platform and Business Intelligence exams, both at the professional level. Microsoft exams such as this one are also vital for individuals who wish to work at Windows.

Associated exams:

This exam is related to Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Data Platform, Microsoft Security Compliance Manager (MCSM): Data Platform, and MCSE: Business Intelligence.


Aside from the highly recommended two-year experience, the Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Database Jump Start course is essential for those who are already familiar with database fundamentals and working with SQL Server. Completing the Database Jump Start course readies an individual for the more advanced skills that will be required to pass Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2012.

Objectives of the exam:

This exam measures a candidate’s ability to accomplish the technical tasks associated with understanding data and troubleshooting. There are four domains in total, each focusing on different aspects and each taking up a different percentage of the exam. Each domain, along with its covered skills and corresponding percentage, is listed below.

- Creating database objects (24%)

Candidates should understand database tables and objects. This domain involves creating and altering tables using T-SQL syntax, and creating the tables without using any built-in tools. It also focuses on creating and altering table views such as creating indexed views. It covers design aspects, security implications, and creating and modifying constraints; this includes creating constraints on tables, defining constraints, unique constraints, default constraints, primary and foreign key constraints, and the creation and alteration of DML triggers.

- Working with data (27%)

This is a crucial domain for candidates to understand as it covers to basics of doing work with data. The topics covered in this domain include querying data by using select statements, writing efficient and complex SQL queries, determining what code may or may not execute based on the table provided, determining which statement set would load a table, and using and understanding different data access technologies. There are also topics that focus on identifying problematic elements in query plans, implementing data types, implementing aggregate queries, and managing XML data.  

- Modifying data (24%)

This domain requires a candidate’s knowledge in the modification of various data components. The topics covered are creating and altering stored procedures, branching logic, creating various programming objects, understanding techniques for developing stored procedures, creating stored procedure for data access layer, and programming stored procedures and trigger function with T-SQL. The next concepts covered are modifying data by using various statements such as INSERT, UPDATE and DELETE statements.  This domain also covers combining datasets and working with functions

- Troubleshooting and optimising (25%)

Candidates should be able to identify and find solutions to common problems. Topics covered in this domain include optimising queries, reading query plans, describing the different join types (HASH, MERGE, LOOP) and describing what scenarios these would be used in. In the managing transactions topics, the skills required include marking a transaction, understanding the differences between implicit and explicit transactions, as well as working with various isolation levels. It additionally focuses on evaluating the use of row based operations and set based operations and implementing error handling.

Career prospects:

As Microsoft is such a widely recognized corporation, receiving this certification is a major accomplishment for individuals who want to work with Windows computers and similar kinds of work. An individual can proceed to follow their career of a database administrator, system engineer, database developer, or a database analyst. It would also help an individual qualify for any job that requires writing queries.


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