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Oracle SQL Certification: 1Z0-051 or 1Z0-047?

Exams 1Z0-047: Oracle Database SQL Expert and 1Z0-051: Oracle Database 11g: SQL Fundamentals I both satisfy the SQL requirement on the Oracle 11g DBA and 11g Developer tracks. Which one should you take? Oracle Certification Expert Matthew Morris has the answer.

On the Oracle Certification forum, these two exams generate a steady stream of questions from candidates asking which would be better for them to take. In this article, I discuss the two tests, their similarities and differences and why you might want to take one over the other.

Comparing the Options - 1Z0-047: Oracle Database SQL Expert vs. 1Z0-051: Oracle Database 11g: SQL Fundamentals I

Either of these tests satisfies the SQL requirement for the "Oracle Database 11g Administrator Certified Professional" track and also the "Oracle PL/SQL Developer Certified Associate" track. Candidates following either the DBA or developer tracks generally take one of these two tests. I’ll note briefly that at this time there is a third option, the much older “1Z0-007: Introduction to Oracle9i SQL”. This test was written against Oracle 9i as the name suggests. It has not been updated for newer releases, and will likely be retired in the not-too-distant future. It is not a test that I would recommend pursuing. Both 1Z0-047 and 1Z0-051 are geared towards SQL against an Oracle 11G database, and the test objectives for the two on the Oracle Education site have a great deal of commonality. It's not surprising that there is confusion over which to take.

Some of the difference between the two is due to the content. The remainder is the level of difficulty of the exams and the degree to which you must be familiar with Oracle SQL. The SQL Fundamentals exam is built around forty-one topics listed on the Oracle Education site. The topics aren't 'simple', but they certainly fit the definition of 'fundamentals'. They are the basics that Oracle SQL developers really should be familiar with. The SQL Expert topics include thirty-eight pulled directly from SQL Fundamentals, plus an additional thirty-eight beyond that. The majority of the exam questions come from the second set, but anything from the first set is fair game. This alone would tell you that it's a much more complex exam to study for. In addition, a fair number of the ‘Expert’ topics are on subjects that even experienced SQL developers use only on rare occasions.

The differences in the two tests go deeper than that. The SQL Fundamentals exam is fairly straightforward in its questions and answers. For a given question, answer A may be obviously correct because answers B, C, and D have SQL errors that make them obviously invalid (assuming you know your basic SQL). The exhibits are simple; the SQL fairly short; and the questions largely fact-based. By contrast, in the SQL Expert exam, the questions tend to be much trickier. The wrong answers aren't quite as obviously wrong. They are likely to include SQL statements that will execute with no error, but without returning data that answers the question. You have to be able to think like the Oracle SQL parser to determine specifically what a given SQL statement will do when executed. The SQL and associated exhibits are more complex and more of the questions are experience-based.

There is definitely a benefit in taking the SQL Expert exam instead of Fundamentals. You will not only fulfill the SQL requirement for the DBA and developer tracks but also get an immediate standalone certification (Oracle Database: SQL Certified Expert). However, you also run a considerably greater risk of failing the exam. For this reason, I would advise that candidates who are relatively new to SQL pursue the SQL Fundamentals exam.

Some candidates making this decision are experienced SQL developers who are well familiar with most or all of the topics in the SQL Fundamentals exam. For these individuals, I would recommend skipping to 1Z0-047. There is no benefit to passing the lower-level test if you have sufficient knowledge to pass the Expert exam. Whichever you choose, good luck on the test.


About the Author

Matthew Morris is an experienced DBA and developer. He holds Oracle DBA Certifications for releases 7, 8i, 9i, 10G and 11G; and Oracle Expert Certifications for SQL and Application Express; and is an Oracle PL/SQL Developer Certified Associate. He is the author of several Oracle certification guides. His Web site, www.oraclecertificationprep.com, is dedicated to providing links to resources for Oracle certification preparation.

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