New book: Exam Ref 70-761 Querying Data with Transact-SQL

We’re happy to announce the availability of Exam Ref 70-761 Querying Data with Transact-SQL (ISBN 9781509304332), by Itzik Ben-Gan.

Purchase from these online retailers:

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Below you will find an overview of this book, some key sections from the Introduction, and information about the authors. Happy reading!


Prepare for Microsoft Exam 70-761—and help demonstrate your real-world mastery of SQL Server 2016 Transact-SQL data management, queries, and database programming. Designed for experienced IT professionals ready to advance their status, Exam Ref focuses on the critical-thinking and decision-making acumen needed for success at the MCSA level.

Focus on the expertise measured by these objectives:

  • Filter, sort, join, aggregate, and modify data
  • Use subqueries, table expressions, grouping sets, and pivoting
  • Query temporal and non-relational data, and output XML or JSON
  • Create views, user-defined functions, and stored procedures
  • Implement error handling, transactions, data types, and nulls

This Microsoft Exam Ref:

  • Organizes its coverage by exam objectives
  • Features strategic, what-if scenarios to challenge you
  • Assumes you have experience working with SQL Server as a database administrator, system engineer, or developer
  • Includes downloadable sample database and code for SQL Server 2016 SP1 (or later) and Azure SQL Database


The 70-761 exam focuses on T-SQL querying and programming constructs. Whether you’re taking it as part of a Microsoft data platform related certification path, or to assess your T-SQL skills for any other reason, this is a crucial exam, since it covers the essential language constructs. If you need to do work with any of the Microsoft data platform technologies, a good grasp of T-SQL is vital.

The exam covers query constructs like filtering, grouping and sorting, combining data from multiple tables using joins, subqueries, set operators, modifying data, as well as some aspects of data definition like choosing data types and enforcing data integrity. The exam also covers more advanced query constructs like pivoting and unpivoting data, using window functions, grouping sets, using the APPLY operator, the complexities of NULLs, as well as implicit conversions. The exam covers querying system-versioned temporal tables, as well as XML and JSON data. The exam also covers T-SQL modules and programmatic constructs like views, user-defined functions, and stored procedures, as well as working with transactions and error handling.

This exam is intended for SQL Server database administrators, system engineers, and developers with two or more years of experience who are seeking to validate their skills and knowledge in writing queries.

This book covers every major topic area found on the exam, but it does not cover every exam question. Only the Microsoft exam team has access to the exam questions, and Microsoft regularly adds new questions to the exam, making it impossible to cover specific questions. You should consider this book a supplement to your relevant real-world experience and other study materials. If you encounter a topic in this book that you do not feel completely comfortable with, use the “Need more review?” links you’ll find in the text to find more information and take the time to research and study the topic. Great information is available on MSDN, TechNet, and in blogs and forums.

Important: How to use this book to study for the exam

Certification exams validate your on-the-job experience and product knowledge. To gauge your readiness to take an exam, use this Exam Ref to help you check your understanding of the skills tested by the exam. Determine the topics you know well and the areas in which you need more experience. To help you refresh your skills in specific areas, we have also provided “Need more review?” pointers, which direct you to more in-depth information outside the book.

The Exam Ref is not a substitute for hands-on experience. This book is not designed to teach you new skills.

We recommend that you round out your exam preparation by using a combination of available study materials and courses. Learn more about available classroom training at Microsoft Official Practice Tests are available for many exams at You can also find free online courses and live events from Microsoft Virtual Academy at

This book is organized by the “Skills measured” list published for the exam. The “Skills measured” list for each exam is available on the Microsoft Learning website:

Note that this Exam Ref is based on publicly available information and the author’s experience. To safeguard the integrity of the exam, authors do not have access to the exam questions.

About the author

ITZIK BEN-GAN is a T-SQL instructor for and co-founder of SolidQ. A Microsoft Data Platform MVP (Most Valuable Professional) since 1999, Itzik has delivered numerous training events around the world focused on T-SQL querying, query tuning, and programming. Itzik has authored many T-SQL books as well as a monthly column for SQL Server Pro. Itzik’s speaking activities include SQLPASS, SQLBits, IT/Dev Connections, and various user groups around the world. Itzik is the author of SolidQ’s Advanced T-SQL Querying, Programming and Tuning, and T-SQL Fundamentals courses, along with being a primary resource within the company for its T-SQL-related activities.

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