I take my Sun Certified MySQL Associate certification exam tomorrow. I work with MySQL most days, and I wonder if I actually should have started with the DEV-I exam instead. Either way, it's good practice for the harder, more expensive exams, they say, and it'll be a nice benchmark, or notch to have in my belt, or what have you.

I made this post mostly because I had an extremely hard time finding useful resources while preparing for the CMA. The folks at Sun/Oracle claim all you need is their MySQL 5.0 Study Guide book. The book is nice -- a very thorough, must-have resource -- but doesn't even mention the CMA. Instead, you have to cherry pick chapters out of each exam. Sometimes you only have to do tiny sections out of chapters, and oftentimes, they even exclude portions of those subsections. Before I could even start studying, I basically had to take each section listed and mark it with sticky notes telling me exactly what subsections I had to read, or which ones to skip.

The kind of support -- or truthfully, the lack of support -- that Sun/Oracle provides for this exam really bothers me. Not only are there no mock exam questions to be found anywhere, but you don't even get a section of your own to really focus on what you need to know. Searching for support online was a mess. The appropriate search terms have been absolutely hijacked by dishonest spammers more interested in turning a quick buck than explaining anything about the test. The MySQL forums seem to be locked down by administrators out to sell books and classes. The problem is that there isn't a good bookfor the CMA, and the cost of the class is too much for someone who already knows MySQL.

This kind of 'flying blind' stuff is the exact opposite of what an entry-level certification should be all about. I disagree that you need an entire class to learn this kind of stuff, especially if you've had any amount of practice working with databases. Paying a grand just to have a basic idea of what you're going to be tested on -- let alone access to appropriate study materials -- isn't very fair. I ended up going through each section that I was supposed to master, taking a lot of notes along the way.  I find that taking notes is a great way to learn a subject matter. I felt that I could use a little bit more studying, so I typed up those notes.

I'm providing my MySQL CMA Study Guide here on my website as a courtesy to all of my fellow aspiring Certified MySQL Associates. Again, they're just my handwritten notes typed up and put into PDF form. I'm not making any guarantee that memorizing these notes will get you to pass the CMA exam, because I haven't even taken it myself yet. They're intended to give you an idea of the material you need to be familiar with for the exam without having to take a class on stuff you may already know or buying the MySQL certification guide and referring to a byzantine list of book chapters. What you won't find is mock exam questions or, hopefully, anything directly plagiarized from the book, as the goal of taking helpful notes is to paraphrase important concepts.