Last year I got my MCTS EXAM 70-433: Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Database Development certification and wrote about my experience. To recap, while I doubt that there is much intrinsic value in the certificate itself, the extrinsic value of setting a goal (improving my TSQL skills) and having a test with which I could objectively measure progress was valuable. It also happened to be one of my annual SMART objectives, which is one of those corporate self development programs. You know, the kind of stuff that HR comes up with in order to justify their continued existence: It’s got a clever acronym (what exactly it stands for escapes me at the moment) and tied to your annual performance review too.
I immediately encountered some red flags. The CIW website has a maximum password length on its account creation page, which I found to be hilarious. The study guide for the exam assumed that the user had little to no prior programming experience, and seemed to hold your hand every step of the way. I skimmed a few chapters and decided it wasn’t worth my time. Much to my disappointment, the actual test proved to be almost comically easy. I had done all the practice exams the night before, and that had proven to be more than sufficient. Most of the exam questions were taken almost verbatim from the questions on the practice tests, which weren’t very difficult in the first place.