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MCSA learning methods in UK..

Discussion in 'General Microsoft Certifications' started by garyb, Feb 27, 2007.

  1. garyb

    garyb Byte Poster

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    Hi,
    I have been a lone Windows Sys Admin for 9 years covering NT4, 2000, 2003, Exchange, Firewalls 98 & XP looking after 90 users. My company has now decided to offer employees training courses and exams in the UK so I thought I would take adavantage and have a crack at the MSCA 2003 using online tutoring at http://www.microsoft-certification.co.uk/mcsa_training.htm#2 003.

    70-291, 70-290, 70-270 & 70-299

    Can anyone advise if this is my best method, would study/cram books or classroom study be more suitable. I have full access to 2003 servers, firewalls and XP boxes. Also is it preferable to study one exam at a time then do the exam immediately or wait until all study is complete?

    Many thanx for your invaluable advice.

    Gary
     
    WIP: MCSA 2003
  2. Modey

    Modey Terabyte Poster

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    My advice would be to start with the client exam (70-270), then do the server exam (70-290) and then the 70-291. Do the 299 last.

    Unless you have the brain the size of a planet, I'd do them one at a time. Study for one, then go for the exam, then rinse & repeat.

    As for study materiels, Learnkey are very good and Transcender test exams are very very good to help prepare for the exam itself.
     
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCP, MCDST, MCSA 2K3, MCTS, MOS, MTA, MCT, MCITP:EDST7, MCSA W7, Citrix CCA, ITIL Foundation
    WIP: Nada
  3. wagnerk
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    wagnerk aka kitkatninja Moderator

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    I agree with Modey, even though there is some overlap between courses/exams it is alot easier to study for each exam one at a time.

    I remember when I did the 2k route, I did all the courses then had to relearn what I forgot in order to take the exam. It actually took me longer that way than to study per exam.

    -ken
     
    Certifications: CITP, PGCert, BSc, HNC, LCGI, PTLLS, MCT, MCITP, MCTS, MCSE, MCSA:M, MCSA, MCDST, MCP, MTA, MCAS, MOS (Master), A+, N+, S+, ACA, VCA, etc... & 2nd Degree Black Belt
    WIP: PGDip
  4. garyb

    garyb Byte Poster

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    Many thanx for your answers, did you do CBT or rely on working knowledge and books. Also I cant seem to find the costs of the exams on vue.

    Any ideas what they are per exam?

    Again thanx, I'm going in!

    G
     
    WIP: MCSA 2003
  5. Modey

    Modey Terabyte Poster

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    All of the above. I prefer Learnkey to CBT which is the same type of deal but in my opinion it is more polished and professional. It's probably why it's also quite expensive.

    Working knowledge and hands on experience is invaluable but not always an option. I have been lucky that I have been in that position. Books I haven't relied much before now (other than for reference on certain topics), but I am using them more for the 70-291.

    Have a good look around these forums, there are plenty of links to online resources which can also be very good when studying specific topics.

    As for VUE costs. If you register online with them, I think MCP's cost about £90 + vat or there abouts. Last few times I used a voucher that I bought from a website which you can use as a way of paying for the exam with VUE. That was from GetCertified4Less. Cost was around £90 inc vat. I haven't checked on prices for a while though, in theory with the pound being strong against the dollar, the price may have come down a little.

    edit: Getcertified are doing UK MCP vouchers for US $166, so around the high 80's in pounds I guess with the current exchange rate.
     
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCP, MCDST, MCSA 2K3, MCTS, MOS, MTA, MCT, MCITP:EDST7, MCSA W7, Citrix CCA, ITIL Foundation
    WIP: Nada
  6. garyb

    garyb Byte Poster

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    Hi again,
    Learnkey seems highly rated among MCPs, I bought the Network+ course of Ebay once and nearlly headbutted the monitor after an hour of the instructor talking! Still, if it does the job eh? Has anyone experirenced t5he MS Elearning which cost around £170 per course https://www.microsoftelearning.com/catalog/itpro.aspx#OperatingSystems

    I will have another look round, but I get the feeling not many people have enrolled in online courses like the one I was nearly signed up to at http://www.microsoft-certification.co.uk

    Cheers

    Gary
     
    WIP: MCSA 2003
  7. Modey

    Modey Terabyte Poster

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    The only MS online course I have used so far is the 2276c which is the first part to help pass the 70-291. It was ok but nothing special. I'm not sure how consistent they are from course to course. If it's like the MS press study books, then they could vary in quality and usefulness a great deal depending on which book it is.

    I'll let you know what I thought of the 2277b when I have finished it, but that could take a few weeks I will be starting that one tomorrow.
     
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCP, MCDST, MCSA 2K3, MCTS, MOS, MTA, MCT, MCITP:EDST7, MCSA W7, Citrix CCA, ITIL Foundation
    WIP: Nada
  8. Wassup

    Wassup Byte Poster

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    I prefer some instructor lead input, so if your company is footing the bill, then perhaps do a residential course somewhere, make notes, do some cram reading, take a couple of practice exams and done. zero to hero in two weeks! (ok maybe not hero, but certified nonetheless)
    The experience you already have will help in achieving the above.

    :)
     
  9. wagnerk
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    wagnerk aka kitkatninja Moderator

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    As for me, I've done:
    Instructor led training (MS training),
    CBT's (learnkey, CBTNuggets & Syngress),
    books (MS, MSPress, Examcram, Sybex & Syngress),
    test sim (transcender, Measureup, etc),
    and work to pass the exams (2k route then 2k3 upgrade path).

    Just looking thru the 2277b course, and I hate it already :lol: and I've only gone thru the first 2 modules :oops:

    -Ken
     
    Certifications: CITP, PGCert, BSc, HNC, LCGI, PTLLS, MCT, MCITP, MCTS, MCSE, MCSA:M, MCSA, MCDST, MCP, MTA, MCAS, MOS (Master), A+, N+, S+, ACA, VCA, etc... & 2nd Degree Black Belt
    WIP: PGDip
  10. Boycie
    Honorary Member

    Boycie Senior Beer Tester

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    Trainsignal.com is also highly regarded training material for MS certification. They were offering three free video's (TCP, CCNA and Exchange) at one point in time - i thought it was excellent.

    Si
     
    Certifications: MCSA 2003, MCDST, A+, N+, CTT+, MCT
  11. garyb

    garyb Byte Poster

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    Hi & thanx to all for your helpful input so far. To be fair, I may have overly researched this and now feel confused about the best option or even the options!:blink !!

    I think I will get them to buy books and possibly some CBT off Ebay, then book the exams as Modey suggested earlier in the post.

    At work I look after 9 2000/2003 servers and probably 70 XP workstations on 2 sites, but its probably too risky to use them as my "study lab" dont you think!:p Would the following suffice to get me through the MCSA at home?

    Dell Optiplex Pentium 4 3Ghz with 1GB RAM & 60GB HDD. VMware or equivalent with 2 x 2003 & 2 x XP Pro installations. Is the free VMWare here http://www.vmware.com/products/server/ good for multiple subnets, can it really be free! I also wondered and I am sure its been answered already if its possible to run either VMware or Virtual PC from a USB HDD so I could take to work & back?

    Again your opinions are appreciated..

    Gary
     
    WIP: MCSA 2003
  12. supag33k

    supag33k Kilobyte Poster

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    Hi Gary,

    Your employers have taken 9 flaming years to recognise you need training?? - and they will only cough for measly books for a MCSA only.....

    Sorry If I am being direct - but this scenario always gets my back up with employers...they want IT staff to jump through hoops ...but wont train them up at all...:x :x

    Basically you need to get them to stop wasting your time and send you on a proper MCSE MOC - Microsoft Official Curriculum course over 5 days, then another later for 3 days, at a recognised IT trainer like New Horizons etc...

    MOC outlines:

    Course 2273: Managing and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Environment (five days)

    or

    Course 2274: Managing a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Environment (five days)

    and

    Course 2275: Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Environment (three days)

    or

    Course 2208: Updating Support Skills from Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 to Microsoft Windows Server 2003 (three days)

    Also get them to buy you either of the following manual sets at the same time:

    MCSE Training Kit Windows Server 2003 Core Requirements 4bks2cds
    Author: HOLME D CARBECK H ET AL
    Format: HARDCOVER
    ISBN: 0735619530
    Note - is a bit dated now...

    OR

    MCSE: Windows Server 2003 Certification Kit (70-290, 70-291, 70-293, 70-294), 2nd Edition
    James Chellis
    ISBN: 978-0-7821-4453-6
    Paperback
    June 2006 - VERY RECOMMENDED

    Finally get your employers to purchase a full practice exam bundle from either Transcenders - best, Selftest Software - still very good, or Examcram - adequate to good.

    Basically state that you have a deadline of December 31st and this is what THEY will purchase for you to enable you to meet this reasonable deadline.

    Do not under any circumstances let them price down your training to a evening college or budget your training down low.

    The above will cost anywhere from around $5k AUD - so allow at least 2,000 pounds in your training budget submission to your employers for this...but heck they owe you big time mate!!!

    After all that your employers can then send you on additional training courses for your electives based on your successes with the core exams - right?

    You should not even need to sign a waiver saying you will stay after the training as you have been employed 9 years. The only thing you should pay for is the exams mate...

    EDIT: get them to loan you 2 or 3 old pc's for use at home as a study lab...this is really important as you cannot chop around a production network to learn extra concepts.

    Good luck!!

    HTH

    supag33k
     
    Certifications: MCSE (NT4/2000/2003/Messaging), MCDBA
    WIP: CCNA, MCTS SQL, Exchange & Security stuff
  13. Modey

    Modey Terabyte Poster

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    CPU speed is ok, but you are a bit low on RAM and HDD space I would say. Depends of course how many virtual machines you intend to run at the same time. Bear in mind though you are not going to want to give less than 256MB to a server, and maybe 128MB to workstations.

    VMWare files are fairly self contained, (two files per virtual machine I believe) so you could setup the VM's in folders on an external drive and use them on a different PC (eg if you took them into work). All you would need to do is ensure the installation of VMWare was setup in a similar way on the other PC and probably best that that drive letter of the exernal hdd is the same for both PC's. VM's seem to be fairly tolerant of being shunted between differen't PC's. I don't know enough about how MS Virtual PC works to comment on that software and I find it's very limited when compared to VMWare workstation. I have only used it so far when there was no alternative (ie when on an MS official course as they are bound to use their own solution :) ).

    As for simulating different subnets in a virtual setting. I'm not keen on this as I think the network setup side of things can quickly get very complicated. I find it easier to have physical PC's and physical switches/hubs for this kind of work. You can then combine that with virtual workstations and servers, but I personally wouldn't go all virtual in that scenario. I am lucky that I have access to quite a lot of spare hardware and networking gear through work. Not everyone has that luxury.
     
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCP, MCDST, MCSA 2K3, MCTS, MOS, MTA, MCT, MCITP:EDST7, MCSA W7, Citrix CCA, ITIL Foundation
    WIP: Nada
  14. garyb

    garyb Byte Poster

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    Wow,
    Thanx again for the info, it really is helping me get on me way. I have put Virtual PC on an XP host and 2003 as a virtual server. Saying that I wouldnt actually need this until I start the server courses should I. As Modey suggested I will try and crack the client exam first which I could do without 2003 I think.. You right though I will probably "borrow" 2-3 PCs as we have 20 in stock, I am sure the wife will be overjoyed!

    Oh, by the way are these the books you suggested? Thye all appear to be different..

    http://www.greymatter.com/162334
    http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0782144527.html
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/MCSE-Windows-Server-Certification-70-290/dp/0782144535
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/MCSA-Window...0782144128/ref=pd_sim_b_2/026-9812483-5250000

    Cheers

    Gary
     
    WIP: MCSA 2003
  15. supag33k

    supag33k Kilobyte Poster

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    Certifications: MCSE (NT4/2000/2003/Messaging), MCDBA
    WIP: CCNA, MCTS SQL, Exchange & Security stuff
  16. Modey

    Modey Terabyte Poster

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    You will probably need a server setup for the client exam anyway as the 70-270 is very server oriented in may of it's topics.

    eg, you will cover RIS in the XP exam and how to set it up from a client perpective. But I set it up on a server and tried it.
     
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCP, MCDST, MCSA 2K3, MCTS, MOS, MTA, MCT, MCITP:EDST7, MCSA W7, Citrix CCA, ITIL Foundation
    WIP: Nada
  17. garyb

    garyb Byte Poster

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    Lovely stuff, I think I am ready to roll, but if I may test your patience once more, the links provided on here for the self study books point to MCSE. I see they are highly recommended and should people advise to go with I will , but I see these MCSA books http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0782144527.html cover 3 of my proposed server exams.. It appears to be the same author so along with the http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0735621527/ref=br_lf_b_0/203-1877648-7479968 book I favour that option, am I correct?

    Modey, thanx for all your advice on home labs, amd doing that this weekend..

    G
     
    WIP: MCSA 2003
  18. Modey

    Modey Terabyte Poster

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    You arre very welcome, hope the setting up goes well. :)
     
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCP, MCDST, MCSA 2K3, MCTS, MOS, MTA, MCT, MCITP:EDST7, MCSA W7, Citrix CCA, ITIL Foundation
    WIP: Nada
  19. garyb

    garyb Byte Poster

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    Hi again,
    Another dumb question, I wanted to create 2 virtual XP Pro machines, can I get the OS on 120 day trial like 2003? I have searched everywhere with no success, and all my buisness copies are OEM on reinstallation disks? I have the MCSA/E 270-70 exam books from Sybex, but not on there either...

    Thanx

    G
     
    WIP: MCSA 2003
  20. Modey

    Modey Terabyte Poster

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    I could be wrong but I don't think Sybex have a deal to distribute trial copies of Microsoft OS's. You would probably only get that if you bought a copy of the official MS book.

    The licensing agreement at my work allows me to use pretty much what I like when it comes to MS OS's so I have never had to worry too much about trial versions. I certainly haven't heard that MS have made any available for download.

    I suppose you could condider a non genuine (eg pirated copy) of Windows XP that was constanly nagging about not being genuine a trial copy of sorts ... :) Not that I'm suggesting that you should use such a thing.
     
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCP, MCDST, MCSA 2K3, MCTS, MOS, MTA, MCT, MCITP:EDST7, MCSA W7, Citrix CCA, ITIL Foundation
    WIP: Nada

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