Exam preparation books, in my opinion, provide the best return on investment. A decade ago, Sybex books and Exam Cram were hands down the best resources and I currently possess a Sybex book for each of the SQL Server exams mentioned above.
For the Microsoft Office Access 2007 exam, I relied upon a book with a long title, published by Wiley:
Microsoft Official Academic Course
Microsoft Office Access 2007 Exam 77-605
I could not have been more pleased with this resource. Its well written and generously illustrated. Lessons covered are mapped to the matrix of skills tested on the exam. It comes with a CD which includes copies of all the database files referenced in the lessons. The text is focused on preparing you to do well on the exam. The scenarios you are asked to complete are the exact sorts of things you are asked on the actual exam, though its clearly not the result of a collection of brain-dumps.
Brain-dumps, by the way, are created by those who, upon exiting an exam, jot down all the questions they can remember. Get enough people to do this and you will, ostensibly, have all the questions ever asked on an exam. It is neither legal nor ethical, and I dont endorse it as an exam preparation method.
This brings me to the exam experience itself. This was a hands on exam, quite unlike those I took a decade ago. The exam asks you to perform an action that a typical Access user might be asked to do. Add conditional formatting, create a query, compact a database, etc. You perform these tasks in an actual working copy of Access 2007, with all the user interface features and menus, including the Help menu. The exam is timed, so the more you read the help file, the fewer questions youll get through, but youre free to click around until you find the correct answer before you submit the results.
I experienced two issues while taking the exam that undoubtedly lowered my score. One question asked me to apply conditional formatting to change the text color to brown. I was told that the color brown was in the upper left corner of the color pallet. However, the color in the upper left corner was white, not brown and that left me uncertain what to do. I chose brown (in the lower right corner of the pallet) and I believe it was counted as incorrect.
The other issue was that the computer on which I was taking the exam lost Internet connectivity while I was on a question that required pulling a database template down from the Microsoft website. The create database action failed and I could not complete the question. The computer was subsequently restarted and the exam resumed at the following question. Another one probably counted against me.
In the end, I scored 87 on the exam and passed. (I believe I was told that a score of 65 was the required minimum.) In the end it didnt matter in my case. The exam is pass/fail and you dont get any benefit for a higher score, but I was able to vent my frustration over these questions in the exam exit interview.
Overall, it was a great experience for me. The book sells for around $70, the exam cost me $89 and I spent about a week of evenings in preparation. I can now add the Microsoft Certified logo to my emails and tell the world Im an application specialist. But more importantly, Im on my way to gaining more certifications. With one win under my belt and a resolve to better myself, Im ready to take on the SQL Server 2005 exams.
Article courtesy of Database Journal.