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Preparing to take Windows Server Exams

Discussion in 'Windows Server 2003 / 2008 / 2012 / 2016' started by Theprof, Jun 22, 2012.

  1. Theprof

    Theprof Petabyte Poster Premium Member

    ​It’s always important to know what to study, what material to use, and what to expect on the exams so that we can prepare accordingly. First thing is to determine where you want to start. Some certifications like the MCSA/MCSE/MCITP require you to pass more than one exam. Other certifications like MCTS require that you only pass one exam.​

    The way I chose to do the exams is mainly by what interests and benefits me and also how much experience I have in that area. Although for entry exams, it’s okay to not have a lot of experience, the more advanced certifications will be challenging and not having the right experience can be discouraging . The order of exams to do, is really dependent on you, I personally like to start with the easier exams and move up as I pass them. For example, when I was working on the MCSA, I sat the A+ and Network+ first, and then I did the 70-270 (Windows XP), 70-290 (Windows 2003), and 70-291 (Windows 2003 Infrastructure). This way, I built momentum and encouraged myself to keep going even though each exam kept getting harder and harder.

    Study techniques I believe are developed from studying for multiple exams and going through failure and success until you figure out what works best for you. Here’s how I study. I’ve never been the type of individual to read an entire book and just memorize theory. I think theory is great, but it’s not enough if you ask me. Theory enables us to put what we know into practice, practice is what makes us good at what we do. Will Smith said:

    “The separation of talent and skills is one of the greatest misunderstood concepts for people who are trying to excel. Talent you have naturally. Skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft”

    If you constantly practice what you study then you’ll retain a lot more and also find the exam experience more rewarding. Things that we memorize we forget after a little while, things that we learn, stays with us for a long time. This is the type of methodology I apply when I study, I always build a lab, I always go out of my way to take an extra 20-30 minutes and not cut corners and do it right the first time and repeat.

    The type of practice labs you want to put together are dependent on what you’re studying for. For example, when preparing for an exam, the Microsoft Press books guide you on building a lab as you progress through the book until the end. Each chapter covers a topic and that topic is then put into practice. I recommend that you follow the Microsoft Press book and do the same exercises. This will help you understand the topic that is being covered. Another tip is to try and use computer based training like TrainSignal or CBT Nuggets. I always start with the videos first, visual learning is definitely a different type of experience than just reading a book, it gives the foundation and helps you understand the books better, at least from my experience. I’ve also done it the other way around, read the book and then watched the computer based training videos. Other good material to use while preparing for an exam are practice tests. These tests are a good way to gauge as to whether you're prepared for an exam or not. Some of the providers I've used for practice exams are Transcender and MeasureUp. I find that the exams provided by these companies are actually harder than the real exams. MeasureUP practice exams are usually bundled with the MS Press books, while Transcender exams require a purchase before use, although they do have 5 question demo exams.

    You see, for a successful preparation, we have to use more than just one method of study, just reading, or just building a lab, or just watching videos won’t reinforce key information.

    Microsoft Exams tend to have a few types of questions.

    1. Multiple Choice
    2. Chose more than one answer (Chose two or three answers)
    3. Simulation questions
    4. Drag and Drop

    I’ve always liked the simulation questions and to be honest I find them to be not so difficult, that’s because I do a lot of lab work which exposes me to the environment that actually forces me to do what I’ve studied. This is why I recommend to do practice labs when preparing for exams.

    At the end of the day, each person is different, everyone learns at their own pace, their own way, and as long as you learn the material properly and can apply what you learned, then you’ll have a successful and rewarding career. And of course, this applies to other fields, not just IT.
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2012
    Certifications: A+ | CCA | CCAA | Network+ | MCDST | MCSA | MCP (270, 271, 272, 290, 291) | MCTS (70-662, 70-663) | MCITP:EMA | VCA-DCV/Cloud/WM | VTSP | VCP5-DT | VCP5-DCV
    themaster1000 likes this.

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