The roadmap to prepare for: MCSA: SQL Server 2008
The Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate, or just MCSA, is an extremely important certification that will help you find a position in a strong company, or it will help you upgrade your current position in the company. Learning all the necessary stuff in order to get the certification is not easy, especially if you have zero knowledge about SQL Servers. If it's you care we recommend you to spend at least 3 months learning from books before reading the preparation material for the MCSA. With that being said, it's time to introduce a bit of a 'roadmap' that hopefully will lead to you victory.
Step one: Getting to know the exam
Actually, it would be more like 'getting to know the exams', since there are two. In order to earn your MCSA: SQL Server 2008 certification you must pass two slightly different exams: one it's called Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Implementation and Maintenance and the other one is named Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Business Intelligence Development and Maintenance. You have to treat them as two separate exams and learn for each of them separately. Except for the maintenance part which is common.
Step two: Using the Microsoft resources
In the page of each exam you will find the topics they are covering and in which proportions. Using the resources on the official page is a very good idea. They have all sorts of trainings and documents which are aiming to the exact exam topics. However, they do cost money so I don't really know how convenient it is. If you're ready to spend some money, first you should get used with the training sessions. Make sure that you can learn something from them before scheduling your exam. Each of the two exams mentioned above costs $80 per shot, so you might want to take it from the first try.
Step three: Using the Internet resources
The resources from the internet are not always trustable. I recommend you to avoid webpages that are new or about you never heard before. However, there is something you can use. The e-books can be extremely useful for someone who is willing to get the MCSA: SQL Server 2008 certifications. You can find most of them for free, if you know where to look. However, there's one thing you need to take into account: the books might not be specially created for the exam, but for the SQL Server 2008 overall aspects. You need to keep your Microsoft page opened and constantly check the 'Skills measured' section, to make sure that you touched every aspect. Even if this step seems to offer an alternative to the above step, I think that you'll make the most of your learning if you combine these two steps.
Step four: Testing phase
Testing your capabilities gradually it's a must. On the Microsoft website you can find a variety of links to other websites which have tests, but again, there are not for free. If you found a good book then it might have some testing pages here and there. Make sure you don't skip them because this is a crucial step. You'll know exactly how much you progressed and which are the topics you need to focus on.
We'll end this with few advices about general learning. You should always plan ahead how much you want to learn; in other words, to establish a daily basis. Don't try to stuff information in your brain for as much as you can and hope that it will stay there. Actually, if you're learning for more than 3 hours at a continuous rate, without stopping, your brain will no longer process information that rapidly. It's a good idea to learn few hours in the mornings, make some other activities and then learn for another few hours in the evening. This way you can be sure of your progress and the MCSA: SQL Server 2008 certification will be in your hands.