The first of the Oracle 12c certification exams to go into production is 1Z0-061: Oracle Database 12c: SQL Fundamentals. Oracle University put this exam into production almost simultaneously with the retirement of the much older exam 1Z0-007: Introduction to Oracle9i SQL. However, the 11g version of the SQL Fundamentals exam, 1Z0-051, is still available. Having two equivalent exams in production leads to a fair amount of confusion among certification candidates. In this article I will discuss the two exams, what is different between them, and how to choose one over the other.
Either will satisfy the SQL requirement for the “Oracle Database 11g Administrator Certified Associate” or “Oracle PL/SQL Developer Certified Associate” tracks. The SQL requirement can also be satisfied by passing 1Z0-047: Oracle Database SQL Expert. However, 1Z0-047 is a considerably harder exam than either 1Z0-051 or 1Z0-061. This is an option that should only be considered if you have worked with Oracle SQL extensively. This article focuses on the SQL fundamentals exams.
The 11g and 12c SQL Fundamentals exams are almost identical in terms of content covered and requirements satisfied for Oracle certifications. Oracle does not require you to use the 12c SQL Fundamentals when pursuing the 12c DBA track or the 11g exam for the DBA track in that release. Any Oracle SQL exam (including retired ones) can be used for any Oracle certification track that has a SQL requirement. For example, the SQL test I took over a decade ago was 1Z0-001: Introduction to Oracle: SQL and PL/SQL. That test has been retired for years, but could still be applied for the 12c track.
While the content of the two exams is very similar, there are a few differences. Both 1Z0-051 and 1Z0-061 contain forty-one topics. Of those, thirty-six are common to both exams. This means the tests have about 88% commonality by topic count. The last section of the 11g exam (Creating Other Schema Objects) was removed from the exam in the 12c version. The topics covered in that section are:
- Create simple and complex views
- Retrieve data from views
- Create, maintain, and use sequences
- Create and maintain indexes
- Create private and public synonyms
For the 1Z0-061 exam, Oracle University added a new ‘Introduction’ section with the following four topics:
- Describe the features of Oracle Database 12c
- Describe the salient features of Oracle Cloud 12c
- Explain the theoretical and physical aspects of a relational database
- Describe Oracle server’s implementation of RDBMS and object relational database management system (ORDBMS)
They also added one more topic to the “Managing Tables using DML statements” section:
- Truncate data
I have to say that I am very disappointed with Oracle University’s decision to put TRUNCATE (which is a DDL operation) under a section specifically about DML statements. This is not something that makes sense in a test designed for people who are new to SQL. I am sure that OU would be heartbroken to learn of my disapproval.
The 1Z0-061 exam has nine more questions than 1Z0-051 (75 vs 66) and a slightly higher passing score (65% vs 60%). This does not necessarily mean that the test is harder to pass, though. The topics that have been added are ones that are likely to have questions that are more straightforward than the topics that were removed. OU has a certain target percentage of candidates that they want to pass each test on a first attempt. If they raised the passing score, it was because they felt the updated test had easier questions.
I have to say that choosing one test over the other is really a toss-up. The 11g exam is not particularly dated and all of the topics are still relevant. There might be a little bit of long-term benefit in having the 12c exam on your record rather than 11g, simply because 12c will be around after 11g is retired. However, 11g is currently the standard database used in production environments. Very few companies will have moved to 12c yet. In addition, none of my employers have inquired (or cared) about the specific tests I took to gain my Oracle certifications. Pick the exam that makes the most sense to you and you can be confident that you are not making a mistake. Whichever one you choose, good luck on the test.