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MCDST - What you need to know.

Discussion in 'MCDST' started by nugget, Feb 4, 2009.

  1. nugget
    Honorary Member

    nugget Junior toady

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    A lot of people have been asking about what resources are needed for the MCDST. In this article/post I’ll try to outline what you’ll need to get started and where to find it.

    The MCDST (Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician) certification consists of 2 MCP exams, the 70-271 (Supporting Users and Troubleshooting a Microsoft Windows XP Operating System) and the 70-272 (Supporting Users and Troubleshooting Desktop Applications on a Microsoft Windows XP Operating System). The exams test you on installing, configuring and troubleshooting Windows XP, Microsoft Office (2003) and the applications that come with the operating system (Internet Explorer, Outlook Express etc).


    Requirements and objectives

    First up, let’s look at the requirements and exam objectives for both exams. You can find them here,

    MCDST Requirements
    Exam Objectives 70-271
    Exam Objectives 70-272

    Learn them well. It should be noted here that there are some objectives not covered in any courses or the MS Press training books. This was designed (as I was told) so that you will have to research it for yourself and thereby help yourself to become a better technician.


    Books

    Let’s start with the official MS Press training kits.

    MS Press: MCDST Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-271) I personally used these 2 books
    MS Press: MCDST Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-272) and found them to be very good.
    Sybex: MCDST: Exams 70-271 and 70-272
    Exam Cram: MCDST 70-271 and 70-272 Exam Cram 2 BundleSeems to be rather dated
    PrepLogic Mega-Guide for 70-271
    PrepLogic Mega-Guide for 70-272

    Unfortunately there is not very much material available and most of it is rather old. Also, don’t forget to read some of the reviews.


    CBT’s (Computer Based Training videos)

    There are a lot of reputable video training companies out there, VTC, CBT Nuggets, Preplogic, Trainsignal to name a few that produce very good material.

    CBT Nuggets
    Trainsignal while they don’t do a direct MCDST package their courses are top quality.
    VTC (Video Training Company) there are even some free videos for this course here.
    PrepLogic 70-271 and PrepLogic 70-272
    Skillsoft


    Evaluation software

    Each of the MS Press training kits come with a 120 day evaluation copy of Windows XP Professional with SP2 included. Unfortunately Microsoft has withdrawn the distribution of 60 day evaluation versions of Microsoft Office 2003 since Office 2007 was released.

    If you search on your favourite online trader you might be able to pick up a cheap copy or look around at car boot sales and flea markets. Check out some old computer magazines for trial editions too.

    It’s possible, depending on how involved you want to get, that you will also need to set up a domain. For that you will also need a trial version of Windows Server 2003. See also the next section about setting up a virtual environment.

    Windows Server 2003 evaluation download


    Virtual computers

    Setting up and using a virtual environment is not essential for the MCDST but as with any study program it will help. The cheapest option is to download and install Microsoft’s Virtual PC but there are also some viable free alternatives available as well as the king of the heap, VMware Workstation.

    VMware Workstation
    VMWare Server
    Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 SP1
    VirtualBox
    Citirx Xen Server Express

    Try them out and see which you prefer. As with anything it’s a personal choice. Don’t forget that you will also need enough disk space to install the virtual machines on.


    Testprep Software

    Being able to see where you stand is essential in today’s certification environment. With the costs of books, training videos and other stuff it’s too much of a risk to also blow the exam fee as well just because you didn’t know where you were. Enter the exam testing software providers.

    These testing programs will layout (generally) 3 realistic exams for you to go through and test yourself with. The idea is to then see where your weaker areas are so you can do some extra study in these areas.

    Boson is a top quality product and has a couple of ex-Transcenders writers on the team.
    Transcender was/is usually touted as the best.
    MeasureUp endorsed by Microsoft and is also usually found on the accompanying cds in the MS Press training kits.
    SelfTest also endorsed by Microsoft.

    Some may look at the prices of the exams and think “Man, are they expensive” but just think a moment, if you have to pay for the real exam a second time ……..

    Remember, you’re investing in your career (as a wise man once told me).


    Exam taking

    When you’re ready to take your exam you can go online and book the exam through Prometric. First you will have to make yourself an account (if this is the first exam you’ve taken) and then through the interface you can search for an official/registered exam center near you. After finding a suitable center, you can then choose the time you want to take the exam.

    Prometric

    Vouchers

    There are also some methods of reducing the cost of the exams somewhat. You can purchase what is known as a voucher from reputable resellers and use this to get a discount on the price of the exam. Some things to look out for are in the small print, namely that some vouchers are only valid for Canada and North America so read it carefully. Another gotcha is that you need to get the voucher before you book the exam. Vouchers also have expiry dates too. Resellers will throw out really cheap vouchers a short time before they are due to expire so watch out (also a good way to save a little cash if you are prepared to book and take your exam on short notice).

    The MS Press training kit books come with 15% discount vouchers but don't forget to check the validity dates.
    Getcertify4less.com
    Gracetechsolutions.com
    ITexamvouchers.comvalid only for the US, Canada and Puerto Rico
    PrepLogic valid only for the US and Canada
    Prometric

    Second Shot

    Recently Microsoft has started the Second shot program, where if you fail the exam the first time you can get a ‘second shot’ at the exam for free. For this to apply you need to sign up/register with the program and then you will get a code to input into the system when you book your exam.

    Second Shot information

    It’s possible that if you use any discount vouchers that you might not be able to use the second shot code too. Please read the terms and conditions of the booking agent before finalizing any exam booking.


    Technet

    For those with a larger budget there is a great resource available from Microsoft called TechNet Plus. If you take out a TechNet subscription you have access to just about any piece of software that Microsoft has produced along with a generous number of licenses. While not absolutely necessary at this stage of studying it will be just about essential later on in the higher level certifications.

    Technet Plus Subscriptions information


    What not to use

    Just about any resource that says “100% pass guarantee”

    If you’re not sure then CertGuard have a very comprehensive knowledgebase of bad websites and training material providers. If in doubt, check it out.

    Certguard

    As I've recently been made aware of (thanks to BosonMichael), some of the very good and legitimate sites also offer a 100% pass guarantee (at least Transcender, Self Test, MeasureUp, PrepLogic, and Boson ) in their guarantee statements but are not plastered all over their websites like braindump sites.

    As always, if in doubt, check it out on CertGuard.


    FAQ

    Q. How many questions are in the exams?
    A. the exact number varies with each exam taken but is usually between 40 and 60.

    Q. What is the percentage mark required to pass the exams?
    A. The pass mark is 700.

    Q. What is the price per exam?
    A. The price varies depending on where you live and take the exam and also dependant on other factors such as discount vouchers.

    Q. When I pass both exams does that give me the MCDST automatically?
    A. Passing both exams gives you the MCDST certification automatically.

    Q. How many hours would you say is required before you should take the exam?
    A. It depends on the individual and on the experience of that person.


    There are also a lot of other good resources out there but Google and the TechNet library are your best friends and of course the great members at CertForums are always willing to help.

    Remember, studying should be enjoyable and not hard work.
     
    Certifications: A+ | Network+ | Security+ | MCP (270,271,272,290,620) | MCDST | MCTS:Vista
    WIP: MCSA, 70-622,680,685
  2. Qs

    Qs Semi-Honorary Member Gold Member

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    Sticky please :)

    Qs

    EDIT - You pinned it already! Damn mods :p

    Nice work though matey, should help a few people.
     
    Certifications: MCT, MCSE: Private Cloud, MCSA (2008), MCITP: EA, MCITP: SA, MCSE: 2003, MCSA: 2003, MCITP: EDA7, MCITP: EDST7, MCITP: EST Vista, MCTS: Exh 2010, MCTS:ServerVirt, MCTS: SCCM07 & SCCM2012, MCTS: SCOM07, MCTS: Win7Conf, MCTS: VistaConf, MCDST, MCP, MBCS, HND: Applied IT, ITIL v3: Foundation, CCA
  3. Big_nath

    Big_nath Kilobyte Poster

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    Sticky indeed. Lots of useful info for any MS exam.
     
    Certifications: MCP, MCSA, MCSA:M, MCSE, MCTS
    WIP: A few
  4. Qs

    Qs Semi-Honorary Member Gold Member

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    In addition to your FAQs it may be worth mentioning:-

    ...that passing either 70-271, or 70-272 will grant the MCP (Microsoft Certified Professional) qualification.

    ...that the next logical upgrade is from MCDST to MCITP Enterprise Support. For that you need to take and pass the 70-621. More information can be found here - http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/exams/70-621.mspx.

    But wait, there's more! - The 70-621 can be used as credit for any certification requiring Exam 70-620: TS: Windows Vista, Configuring, as a required or elective exam. In other words, Exam 70-621 satisfies the Exam 70-620 requirement in all cases.

    :)

    Qs
     
    Certifications: MCT, MCSE: Private Cloud, MCSA (2008), MCITP: EA, MCITP: SA, MCSE: 2003, MCSA: 2003, MCITP: EDA7, MCITP: EDST7, MCITP: EST Vista, MCTS: Exh 2010, MCTS:ServerVirt, MCTS: SCCM07 & SCCM2012, MCTS: SCOM07, MCTS: Win7Conf, MCTS: VistaConf, MCDST, MCP, MBCS, HND: Applied IT, ITIL v3: Foundation, CCA
  5. craigie

    craigie Terabyte Poster

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    Great post, repped!
     
    Certifications: CCA | CCENT | CCNA | CCNA:S | HP APC | HP ASE | ITILv3 | MCP | MCDST | MCITP: EA | MCTS:Vista | MCTS:Exch '07 | MCSA 2003 | MCSA:M 2003 | MCSA 2008 | MCSE | VCP5-DT | VCP4-DCV | VCP5-DCV | VCAP5-DCA | VCAP5-DCD | VMTSP | VTSP 4 | VTSP 5
  6. BosonMichael
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    ...and an ex-Transcender senior editor... and an ex-Transcender programmer... and an ex-Transcender marketing pro... and *several* ex-Transcender managers...

    Sorry, couldn't resist. 8)

    I strongly disagree, as Transcender, Self Test, MeasureUp, PrepLogic, and Boson all have one.

    The only way to be relatively sure is to check CertGuard, as you have mentioned in your post.

    Content developers who are competent enough to write high-quality practice exams don't come cheap. Think about it... you wouldn't want some dude who is only skilled enough to make low wages TEACHING you how to be a better tech, would you? I know I wouldn't! I expect those who teach me to be BEYOND my skill level.

    Informative post, Nugg! Repped!
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  7. nugget
    Honorary Member

    nugget Junior toady

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    Subject for another article I think as this goes into the Vista arena.:biggrin


    Sorry BM, I didn't see these. I also did not think that these companys would post such a statement as most braindump providers do the same. A very risky proposition in my opinion (which is worth exactly what you pay for it :twisted: ).
     
    Certifications: A+ | Network+ | Security+ | MCP (270,271,272,290,620) | MCDST | MCTS:Vista
    WIP: MCSA, 70-622,680,685
  8. Qs

    Qs Semi-Honorary Member Gold Member

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    I tend to disagree. I think it would be useful to mention it as it's a natural progression from the MCDST (as later OSs than XP will become more and more prevalent).

    It's a useful nugget (*boom boom*) of information.

    Qs

    PS - If you like, add it as an additional section in your guide. Something along the lines of a "What to do next" section. You don't have to add lots of info to it, purely put a link to the 70-621 thread in the forum.
     
    Certifications: MCT, MCSE: Private Cloud, MCSA (2008), MCITP: EA, MCITP: SA, MCSE: 2003, MCSA: 2003, MCITP: EDA7, MCITP: EDST7, MCITP: EST Vista, MCTS: Exh 2010, MCTS:ServerVirt, MCTS: SCCM07 & SCCM2012, MCTS: SCOM07, MCTS: Win7Conf, MCTS: VistaConf, MCDST, MCP, MBCS, HND: Applied IT, ITIL v3: Foundation, CCA
  9. BosonMichael
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Yeah, it sucks that the braindump companies also give a guarantee. The thing is, we give our guarantees for different reasons... they guarantee you'll pass because they give you the actual content... we guarantee you'll pass because we teach you the concepts.

    How can we NOT give a guarantee when we stand behind our products? For the record, the legit practice exam providers gave guarantees first... so the braindump companies copied us, not the other way around. So should we just stop giving a guarantee just because the braindump companies offer one? How fair is that to the customer? And what confidence would that give the customer that they're buying a product that the creator stands behind?

    We've gotta give a guarantee. Otherwise, people who don't know any better will buy products from the companies that DO give a guarantee... the braindumps.
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  10. simonp83

    simonp83 Kilobyte Poster

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    Right, gonna have a look at getting the Microsoft 271 and 272 press kits ordering for this week and then go through there and then look at getting a mock exam sorted out as well, just to see what areas i need to look at. After that, get both exams booked (with the second chance thing) as well.
     
    Certifications: A+, MCP, MCDST, MCTS, MCITP
    WIP: 70-291
  11. dalsoth

    dalsoth Kilobyte Poster

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    There will be some practice tests on the CD's that come with the book. These are slightly harder than the real test or very similar in my opinion. Try those first.
     
    Certifications: MCSE, MCP, MCDST, MCSA, ITIL v3
    WIP: MCITP EA
  12. Gunner

    Gunner Bit Poster

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    Thanks Nugget and to all.
    Great info and advice. This has given me a bit more confidence I can do this. (All my life I have been a nervous wreck :ohmy taking exams!)
     
    Certifications: Comp TIA+
    WIP: MCDST
  13. Thompson

    Thompson New Member

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    Thanks alot that is all very helpful!!
     
    Certifications: MCP (70-290)
    WIP: MCDST
  14. PoshBlue

    PoshBlue Bit Poster

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    Hi all, this is my 1st post as i have only found your forum today. I had been thinking of signing up to one of the many providers til i realised the learning could be self taught from books i could buy. bit naive but thanks to you guys i still have my money in my pocket.

    I was reading your very informative post and I noticed that there was no mention about the fact that sp3 is out for xp but those mspress books only cover sp2. is sp3 not included in the exam? is there no real difference between them? if there is and it will be in exam will the books have an update shortly? hopefully these are not stupid questions. :rolleyes:
     
    WIP: A+, MCDST
  15. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    You tell me - what's the difference between SP2 and SP3? What question could Microsoft possibly ask that would be different between the two SP versions? :)

    Welcome to the forums, by the way!
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  16. PoshBlue

    PoshBlue Bit Poster

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    great start for me there. lol. I haven't actually downloaded sp3 yet so i honestly dont know what the differences are. but i'm guessing from your post that there is very little in it. thanks for the welcome.

    the mspress books have 1 book for each part of mcdst and the sybex one includes both in 1 book at the same price as 1 of the mspress books. is it better value or missing anything in relation? i find it hard to believe that it can be as comprehensive in half the pages.
     
    WIP: A+, MCDST
  17. Sparky
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    Sparky Zettabyte Poster Moderator

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    This should help mate:
    http://www.winsupersite.com/faq/xp_sp3.asp

    SP3 is not a big jump but SP2 was, it basically broke everything in the name of "security".

    When SP2 was released it was big step forward for the OS despite the teething problems.
     
    Certifications: MSc MCSE MCSA:M MCSA:S MCITP:EA MCTS(x5) Security+ Network+ A+
    WIP: Exchange 2007\2010
  18. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    But still, neither update would include anything majorly relevant as far as test question material is concerned. :)
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!
  19. PoshBlue

    PoshBlue Bit Poster

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    ok. thanks for info on the situation with the sp's. what are your opinions on the differences between the sybex and mspress books? is the sybex book adequate despite the page count being 40% of the mspress 2 volumes?
     
    WIP: A+, MCDST
  20. BosonMichael
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    BosonMichael Yottabyte Poster

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    Both are good... each covers the material a little differenly. The MSPress books are generally drier and the Sybex books are more conversational, but both tend to get the job done. Many people buy both just to get "both sides". Usually, one will fill the "holes" in your knowledge that the other book leaves.

    Just because a book is thinner doesn't mean it doesn't cover what you need to know for the exam. Who knows - perhaps the other book goes on for days about a topic that should take only a page to explain... or perhaps the other book covers topics that are useful, but not necessarily on the exam.

    What I would recommend is to look at Amazon reviews - with a large grain of salt, I might add. If both books are around the 4-star range, get one or the other or both. :)
     
    Certifications: CISSP, MCSE+I, MCSE: Security, MCSE: Messaging, MCDST, MCDBA, MCTS, OCP, CCNP, CCDP, CCNA Security, CCNA Voice, CNE, SCSA, Security+, Linux+, Server+, Network+, A+
    WIP: Just about everything!

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