What’s the best way to become certified?

There are a million different resources out there, from MSLearning to Exam Cram books, to MSPress books, to sites that provide exam questions word-for-word (making the value of the certification worthless to those that cheated to pass).  The Microsoft Learning site is probably a good place to start for official guidance on resources.

That having been said, I am an MCSE:Security on Windows 2003 I have often been asked what the best way is to study for an exam.  Nobody ever believes me when I say this, but… I think the following is by far the best way to actually LEARN the topics covered on the exam (rather than cramming answers just to pass a test, leading to a “paper MCSE”).

Print up the exam objectives that are on the public exam page (ie http://www.microsoft.com/learning/exams/70-291.mspx). Then head over to TechNet (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windowsserver/default.aspx), and read through the documentation, best practices, and step-by-steps that cover the exam objectives.

For example, the first several exam objectives on the 70-291 relate to DHCP. So, read the following: http://www.microsoft.com/technet/network/dhcp/dhcp.mspx. In addition, load up 2003 Server (or 2 or 3 images) on to Virtual Server or Virtual PC, and practice working with the technology.  I list some preconfigured images here that you can start with.  Practice creating scopes, creating your own domain, joining client machines to the domain, changing scope options, setting up WINS… whatever it is the exam will be covering. Walk through the Step-by-Step guides on Technet (http://search.technet.microsoft.com/search/Default.aspx?brand=technet&locale=en-us&query=step+by+step), SPECIFICALLY those listed on this page: http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/windowsserver2003/technologies/directory/activedirectory/stepbystep/default.mspx.

Not only will the test be very simple once you go to take it (because you will have hands on experience with those technologies), but you will actually have experience that you can take into the real world.

Just my 2 cents! 🙂

BTW... the Learning Group will be doing a webcast next month to discuss the steps we take to protect the integrity of our Exams.  They will answer questions such as:

  • how can I tell if a test-prep site is legitimate?
  • why are betas not offered in <fill in the blank> country?
  • does Microsoft ever actually do anything about cheaters?
  • what can I tell my friend about the exam I took? does it really matter?
  • what exactly am I agreeing to when I ok the exam non-disclosure agreement (NDA)?
  • what's up with TestKing?

Learn more (and register for the webcast) here: http://blogs.msdn.com/trika/archive/2007/04/24/protecting-the-integrity-of-ms-certification.aspx

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