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Oracle 1Z0-117: An SQL Tuning Challenge

The Oracle Certified Expert - SQL Tuning certification has no training requirement or prequisite certification -- if you pass the 1Z0-117 exam, physician the expert designation is yours. That said, passing this exam is easier said than done.

1Z0-117: Oracle Database 11g Release 2: SQL Tuning is an exam in the Oracle Expert series that leads to the “Oracle Database 11g Release 2 SQL Tuning” OCE certification. At this time it is also the newest expert certification to be made available from Oracle Education. Tuning SQL in an Oracle database is both an important and potentially complex task. Creating a new certification for this skill is an excellent move on Oracle’s part and there has been a great deal of interest from the Oracle community in this exam becoming production. The topics on 1Z0-117 cover the base concepts, techniques, and tools that allow you to detect, diagnose, and resolve problems with poor SQL performance.

Oracle already has a server tuning Expert certification available: Oracle Database 11g Performance Tuning Certified Expert. It requires candidates to either hold a DBA OCP or to take a hands-on training course in addition to passing the exam (1Z0-054). The SQL Tuning expert certification, on the other hand, has no training or certification requirement -- if you pass the 1Z0-117 exam, the expert designation is yours. That said, passing this exam is easier said than done.

When I took it, the exam had been out of beta for only ten days. This may account for why it felt to me like it still had some of the ‘rough edges’ that I associate with a beta exam. A handful of questions had what I felt were problems with the wording of the question, the answers, or both. I have reported what I could recall of these to Oracle Education. If the exam developers agree that the items I reported were truly flaws, hopefully they will be resolved shortly. On the morning of the test, I really did not need peculiar questions interfering with my concentration. The questions that I understood clearly were strenuous enough.

At 150 minutes, this is the longest non-beta Oracle test I’ve ever taken. You will have almost two full minutes to answer each question and many are complex enough to need that time. A clear majority of the questions that I had were multiple-answer rather than multiple-choice, further increasing the overall difficulty. It is much easier to pick a single right answer than two, three, or four right answers – especially when there is no partial credit.

The test covers a wide range of topics on SQL tuning:

  • SQL Tuning and Diagnosis Tools
  • Understanding and Interpreting Execution Plans
  • Working with the Oracle Optimizer and Statistics
  • Bind Variables, Bind Peeking, and Adaptive Cursor Sharing
  • Using the SQL Tuning and SQL Access Advisors
  • SQL Plan Management
  • Utilizing Optimizer Hints
  • Implementing Parallel Execution
  • Data Warehousing