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  1. #1
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    Access Assessment Test

    Does anyone have an Access Assessment test to determine the level at which a student should enroll in an Access class, i.e., Beginner, Intermediate, or Advanced??

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    Re: Access Assessment Test

    What did you have in mind, and assessment for the student to take to see which one to sign up for, or an assessment for the trainer to give to see which one to recommend? Are we talking learning exchange type classes, college classes, commercial training company classes, or what? For what my opinion is worth, it is nearly impossible to determine how advanced a student is in Access, only how little they know.

    In any event, unless the student understands relational concepts, start them in the beginning class, no matter how long they've been writing programs in whatever language or building web pages in the basement. It's exceptionally easy to build very bad databases in Access--I see it all the time from people who get paid for it.

    If the students understand database concepts and know how to build a form, start them in the intermediate class.

    Don't start anyone in advanced unless they have a solid understanding of programming concepts and events and they really do understand relational database design and have actually built working (and workable) databases. Advanced Access classes too often wind up teaching students how to build macros, which is low-intermediate at best.

    From my perspective as a professional developer, VBA programming should be taught beginning at the intermediate level, with class objects and client-server design in the advanced level. Interface design gets more sophisticated as the application development becomes more complex, so it spans all levels. Relational concepts should start at the beginning level and be beaten into their heads until they think in third normal form. After that, they can be allowed to learn how to do the sexy stuff. <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15>

    I have worked with and managed far too many developers who started in VB or Excel and never really internalized relational design. And I've heard people say that something was too hard in Access so they were going to do it in VB! <img src=/S/yikes.gif border=0 alt=yikes width=15 height=15> On the other hand, I will forgive a lot of interface flaws (or even a VB front end) if the developer turns in a solid relational design.
    Charlotte

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    Re: Question for Charlotte

    I know this is slightly off the topic, but would you have any recommendations of where a person who would like to get into database development might look for job opportunities. I took the basic and intermediate courses a couple of years ago, but until recently have not really had the opportunity to do much with ACCESS. Most of my learning has been on a need to know for the job at hand type. I have found that until I have a reason to use a program or even various features of it, I can't really apply whatever I learn in a course. It just happened that after thinking about my current assignment, I realized it would be best accomplished by using ACCESS. No one in the department I work in has any knowledge of ACCESS so it's been a good learning experience for me as I've worked on developing my first real database. Although it is likely very basic by most of the standards of the people using this forum, it will suit the purposes of the people who will be using it.
    I really enjoy using Excel/Lotus but think that databases can do so much more if designed properly. I was quite fortunate to be given a comprehensive overview of a very complex database a couple of years ago. It was created for a large national company to gather all their financial and performance records from regional offices. I would like to be capable of creating something similar but need to get some more practical experience first. I think I have a good grasp of relational concepts. Do you have any suggestions as to what type of position or company might have opportunities for someone with basic skills who would like to (and is capable of) further develop them?

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    Re: Question for Charlotte

    Your best bet is to start by building desktop databases in your own company. That gives you experience within a limited scope and lets you work in a field you already know something about. You can't go directly into being a full time Access developer because those jobs require the experience you do not yet have, and I have yet to see a "junior programmer" job in Access.

    Most of the available jobs for Access developers are in building desktop applications, which is where Access shines. It can also make a great front end for client/server against SQL Server, but you don't start out building that kind of database anyhow. A lot of the jobs are in contract programming work, and contractors don't need beginning programmers, they need people who can hit the ground running even in unfamiliar businesses.

    Look for local computer user groups or their special interest groups that focus on Access. That gives you a chance to exchange ideas and learn along the way, and you'll also hear about job opportunities there. Enroll is programming classes at your local community college. That's another place to hear about job opportunities and the learning doesn't hurt either. <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15>
    Charlotte

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    Re: Thank for Charlotte

    Thanks for the suggestions.

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    Re: Access Assessment Test

    Charlotte: Thank you for your reply. I was thinking along the lines of a prospective student to take to see in which to enroll.

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    Re: Access Assessment Test

    In that case, ask questions like, "Define a normal table","What is a foreign key","What is a primary key","How do you create a relationship between tables", "What is a linked/attached table and how do you create one", etc. Also ask about creating forms, reports, queries, and local tables. Ask what the programming language for Access is.

    If you aren't familiar enough with Access to come up with the questions, pick up a book like Access for Dummies or Microsoft Access Step-by-Step and crib some ideas from it.
    Charlotte

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    Re: Access Assessment Test

    Thanks for your insights and thoughts on this. You have been very helpful.

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    Re: Access Assessment Test

    I myself had to cookbook an entire system because the state was too cheap to send me to classes at first.
    Unfortunately, this really shows the 'holes' in learning general concepts of the programming tasks and development environments.

    IMO, It's all relative to two or three factors.

    1-Does the 'student' know anything at all about Access or relational database and do they have any experience?

    2-Which organization is conducting the classes?
    Some organizations have a lower learning curve because of the caliber of their personnel-Ask others who have attended classes there how they would rate the program and the instructors.

    For me personally, I learned out of the book and by the time I got into an advanced Access class at that lower level place, I was basically past their scope because they just concentrated on the design and the basic components.
    (Which are fundamental to the entire program-No Argument here!!)

    However, since I learned from the book and I didn't know my loop constructs, I've been playing catch-up ever since.
    Do not try this at the office!
    <img src=/S/bummer.gif border=0 alt=bummer width=15 height=15>

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    Re: Access Assessment Test

    Ah, but some of us learned OJT because we had no other choice! So much for not trying it at the office. <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15>
    Charlotte

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    Re: Access Assessment Test

    Hi Charlotte,
    RE:
    >Relational concepts should start at the beginning level and be beaten into their heads until they think in third normal form.
    Would you also recommend the Access for Dummies and MS AC Step by Step books for this purpose? Having designed several awful DB's myself, I'm ready to go back to basics (in book form, since I'm definitely OTJ self-training). Do you have a recommendation on relational design per-se?
    Thanks As Always

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    Re: Access Assessment Test

    OReilly has a book called Access Database Programming and Design that has a capsule overview of relation design that is quite good. This is the companion volume to VB/VBA in a Nutshell, which gives you a good quick reference for the code part of it and clearly distinguishes between what works in VB and what works in VBA. However, I would look for a book specific to relational database design. There are a few out there, but most of them were published after I inhaled the concepts, so I don't own any of them and can't give you a recommendation. Try a <A target="_blank" HREF=http://www.google.com>http://www.google.com</A> advanced search on the exact phrase "relational database design" and you'll turn up 13,000 hits. That should be enough to choose from. <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15>
    Charlotte

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    Re: Access Assessment Test

    A good book on design is "Database Design for Mere Mortals" by Michael Hernandez. It covers a wide range of topics on development as well as examples and recommended readings.

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    Re: Access Assessment Test

    Thanks, Charlotte and Paul.
    I've ordered them both.
    Now to find a sunny corner to curl up with some light reading...
    Mark <img src=/S/read.gif border=0 alt=read width=19 height=28>

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