In terms of content covered and requirements satisfied for Oracle certifications, these two exams are almost identical. It is no surprise that the two generate a significant amount of confusion and questions from candidates trying to decide which they should take. In this article, I will discuss the two tests and point out the reasons why you might choose one over the other.
Either of these tests will satisfy the SQL requirement for the “Oracle PL/SQL Developer Certified Associate” or “Oracle Database 11g Administrator Certified Associate” tracks. DBA and Developer candidates must either take one of these two tests or a third exam option: “1Z0-047: Oracle Database SQL Expert”. The SQL Expert test is considerably more difficult than either 1Z0-007 or 1Z0-051. It is a viable option to satisfy the SQL requirement, but requires considerably greater knowledge of Oracle SQL. In this article I’ll deal just with the two SQL fundamentals exams.
The differences between the two tests can be summarized in two words, age and content. A two-word summary isn’t really helpful to you in making a decision, however, so I’ll break it out a bit further than that.
The 1Z0-007 test was written against Oracle 9i as the name suggests. Oracle 10G was released in 2004, and Oracle 11G in 2007. While Oracle Corporation has not provided a release date for the 12c version of the database, it’s liable to be some time reasonably soon. 1Z0-007 has never been updated for newer releases and has a reasonable chance of being retired shortly. In one sense retirement of the test does not matter, as Oracle certifications do not expire. My first DBA certification was in Oracle 7.3, for example. That certification is still not expired. However, it is also no longer relevant because no one is using Oracle 7.3. In that context, obtaining the 9i version of the test means that your SQL certification has a head start on becoming irrelevant. By contrast, 1Z0-051 was written specifically for Oracle 11G. Since it is approximately eight years newer than the 9i version, this test is unlikely to be retired for many years to come.
The 9i test has forty-two topics compared to forty-one for 11G. Of those, thirty-four topics are either identical between the two or comparable. In one case a single topic in 9i is split into two topics for 11G. Of the eight topics in 9i that do not exist in 11G, three are on iSQL*Plus. This application was eliminated in the current release of Oracle. Four of the other five subjects not in the 11G exam are for minor topics that were consolidated into broader subject areas in the 11G test. For example, ‘Describe a view’ became part of the topic “Create simple and complex views”. The last of the eight topics was moved to the SQL Expert test.
There are six topics in the 11G test that are not in the 9i one. Of those, three involve using the SET operators (UNION, INTERSECT, MINUS) Another of the topics is regarding the use of conditional operators in SQL (CASE and DECODE). One of the topics is about queries that generate Cartesian products. The final topic is on the Oracle table structure. All of these are valuable additions to the SQL fundamentals test.
While the two tests have about 80% commonality in content covered, of the 20% that is different, the 1Z0-051 exam beats 1Z0-007 hands-down when it comes to the relevance of the information. Unless you have a very good reason for choosing the 9i version, I cannot imagine choosing it over the 11G exam. If you are very familiar with Oracle 9i and are comfortable using iSQL plus, then I can see possibly choosing the older version. However, if you are coming at Oracle SQL cold, then I strongly recommend pursuing the newer version of the SQL Fundamentals exam. Whichever one you choose, good luck on the test.