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  • mcse woes

    Hi All,

    I am starting on the mcse 2k3 track at the moment and have bought the microsft core exam books. I have read three out of 4 of them (just not the ad one at the moment). I have also worked in IT for 7 years, 4 as a help desk/network techie and 3 as a network analyst. I have used a variety of other products not just ms (like vmware esx and lots of different hardware i.e. switches, cisco routers etc). What i find really hard to grasp with the mcse is that you can learn and read through the books that microsoft provide you with and then when you take the exam they are literally nothing like the books!. I mean, I just tried an example test for the 70-293 exam and it was talking about areas that are not even supposed to be covered by the exam. Also the exam questions are just so different from the knowledge in the books. What gives?. How are you supposed to prepare for the exams when the books ms provide don't readily reflect the material in the exams?. I know there are a lot of people out there with their win2k3 mcse's and I know I am not dumb (I have first class honors degree from a good university). What am I doing wrong? It must be the way I am approaching it or something. I feel like its going to take me three months for each exam working day, night and weekends. So 7 exams to do and thats nearly two years! to get an exam that will basically up my salary by 2 grand!. I really want to get the mcse I just wish I had a sure fire route to success. I am worried even If I buy the train signal exams they are going to teach me what I have learnt in the books and not what are in the exams.

    if anyone has any ideas or info as to how to attack the mcse please let me know

    thanks,

    Paul

  • #2
    Re: mcse woes

    Hello paulow1978!

    You and I are in similar woes at the moment. If you are referring to the set of four MCSE Core MS Press books, I have some experience with them. I purchased that same set and have gone through all of them, except the last half of the AD book (70-294). In fact, my 294 exam is scheduled for this Friday.

    My personal experience with MS Press books is that they are factual and generally acurate. They are also about as dry as eating a T-shirt and washing it down with a pale of sawdust. The best part about the MS Press books is that they include practice exams from Measure Up, which are quite a handy study tool.

    Which brings me to my point: Are you using the practice exams? I mean using the practice exams? Like, going through all 300-some questions and reading the explanations? Measure Up doesn't provide explanations for their answers in the "Objective Review" section, but the "Practice Tests" section has decent explanations. Notice I said "decent" and not "excellent".

    For great practice exams that actually teach you the subject material, not just how to pass a test, try Transcender. You can purchase a 30 day web based package that allows you to take the exams right in your browser. If you need more time, you can buy 15 or 30 day extensions for a very reasonable price. Yeah, it'll cost around $140 per test package, but you can find deals. And if you don't pass on the first try, you can get your money back!!

    You could also try using Exam Cram books. Read the book reviews on Amazon carefully though. Some of them are duds. The books are written with the sole intent on getting you to pass the exam. It assumes that you know a decent amount of the basic material, so it focuses more on the exam objectives. Their practice exams are worthless though. If you want a bit more than just a "Cram" book, try the Exam Prep series. If you just want to try a different publisher, you could look at Sybex, although I had an excruciatingly bad book for the 70-290 exam. There are other publishers too. O'Reilly has a MCSE in a nutshell book that focuses on the four core exams if you don't need a deep introduction and study into the subjects.

    Is there a training budget where you work? Sometimes a week long class is more helpful than abusing yourself with a book.

    I feel your frustrations. I've been slogging my way through MS materials and practice exams for over two years now to get my MCSE. I hope to achieve it sometime this summer. How far along are you in the MCSE track? Have you passed any exams?

    Keep going!
    Wesley David
    LinkedIn | Careers 2.0
    -------------------------------
    Microsoft Certifications: MCSE 2003 | MCSA:Messaging 2003 | MCITP:EA, SA, EST | MCTS: a'plenty | MCDST
    Vendor Neutral Certifications: CWNA
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    • #3
      Re: mcse woes

      I'm just going to add the usual three legs of the tripod

      1) Learning, whether books or classes
      2) Practice Tests
      3) Practical Experience

      If you read the blurb on the MS web site, MCSEs should have worked with the technology for a number of years, so the certification is very much about validation of existing experience.

      For both of you, I would consider setting up a practice network (physical or virtual) and breaking it every way you can. With that, you will sail through the exams!

      Also note the courses or books do not cover all the content - you need more material
      Tom Jones
      MCT, MCSE (2000:Security & 2003), MCSA:Security & Messaging, MCDBA, MCDST, MCITP(EA, EMA, SA, EDA, ES, CS), MCTS, MCP, Sec+
      PhD, MSc, FIAP, MIITT
      IT Trainer / Consultant
      Ossian Ltd
      Scotland

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      • #4
        Re: mcse woes

        Quoth Ossian:
        For both of you, I would consider setting up a practice network (physical or virtual) and breaking it every way you can. With that, you will sail through the exams!
        That's a good one that escaped my mention. I've got both set up. VMs and physical machines... including one PC that's in my closet at the moment and making louder noises that I am comfortable with. Maybe I should go check on that...

        paulow1978, leverage your experience with VMWare! Nothing says "fun" like running an entire domain and client pool using VMs on one physical machine.
        Wesley David
        LinkedIn | Careers 2.0
        -------------------------------
        Microsoft Certifications: MCSE 2003 | MCSA:Messaging 2003 | MCITP:EA, SA, EST | MCTS: a'plenty | MCDST
        Vendor Neutral Certifications: CWNA
        Blog: www.TheNubbyAdmin.com || Twitter: @Nonapeptide || GTalk, Reader and Google+: [email protected] || Skype: Wesley.Nonapeptide
        Goofy kitten avatar photo from Troy Snow: flickr.com/photos/troysnow/

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        • #5
          Re: mcse woes

          paulow1978, also have a look at other books and see if there is one that suites your reading style. That sounds a bit silly but I found New Rider easy to read for NT4.0 track but Sybex for 2k & 2k3. The hardest book I read was New Rider's TCP/IP. 17 Chapters and 11 different authors. The different writing styles made it a difficult book for me to read.

          Hope that makes some sort of sense for you and helps.
          1 1 was a racehorse.
          2 2 was 1 2.
          1 1 1 1 race 1 day,
          2 2 1 1 2

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          • #6
            Re: mcse woes

            I would just reiterate what the other guys have said here, and having a test network is absolutely invaluable.
            I'm going through Server 2008 at the moment and having that in a VM that can be broken and restored back within seconds is so much better than having to build multiple physical machines. Not to mention cheaper!

            It's heartening to see people who want to do these exams properly, rather than just cram a braindump and become paper certs. I would suggest pick one exam to start with and ask look in the forums here for other peoples experience with them. If there isn't a topic, start one and ask. That's what we're here for.

            Good luck!
            Pete Cullen
            MCSE 2003, MCSA 2003: Messaging, CCA, MCP, MCTS Server 2008 (Assorted)

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            • #7
              Re: mcse woes

              Originally posted by Ossian View Post
              I'm just going to add the usual three legs of the tripod

              1) Learning, whether books or classes
              2) Practice Tests
              3) Practical Experience

              If you read the blurb on the MS web site, MCSEs should have worked with the technology for a number of years, so the certification is very much about validation of existing experience.

              For both of you, I would consider setting up a practice network (physical or virtual) and breaking it every way you can. With that, you will sail through the exams!

              Also note the courses or books do not cover all the content - you need more material

              Lol, Practical Experience brought me in a few tight spots conserning certification.
              Certainly in lower part of the exams (XP and 290).
              It is a point though, you need more experience and knowledge than that is available in the book. I always found forums a ussefull media, maybe that is why i spend so much time on them.
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              • #8
                Re: mcse woes

                Hi Everyone,

                Thanks for the heartfelt replies!. I was just having one of those days! over tired probably (I am training for a half marathon at the moment, did 12 miles on sunday and then the missus arranged for us to go round her bosses house for lunch which ended up going out for a 20 mile cycle ride with the bosses husband!, the things you do to keep up appearances!). Anyway, that mixed in with the fact my company has jjst been taken over and they are slowly dismantling my beautiful esx iscsi san infrastrcuture which replicates between two sans over fiber between buildings on three networks and all the alerting using snmp (all of which I set up and works beautifully) back to physical servers and doubletake! soooo depressing.

                Your comments have been really helpful. Actually, I had a bit of an epiphany last night, I was reading the 70-293 book and I realised I am beginning to "think" like Microsoft (not sure thats good in itself though!!!) which will help loads with the exams. I think half the hard part is that I have done a lot of IT as and when, picking up books and white papers and installing new technology, documenting the install and then forgetting it as I move on to the next.

                I will set up a test lab at home I think and find the measureup cd that is lying around at home somewhere. One thing I noticed about the mcse is that if you focus on the more obscure and complex areas you can almost be guaranteed they will come up. I mean I have a good understanding of dns,dhcp,ad etc but the mcse wants you to know about that wierd part of each of those that people rarely use like the parser.ini file and where it is stored etc (why didnt they put that in the parser folder by the way!!! ignore me if you dont know what I am on about bad example!)

                anyway thanks for the help,

                Paul

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                • #9
                  Re: mcse woes

                  Anyway, that mixed in with the fact my company has jjst been taken over and they are slowly dismantling my beautiful esx iscsi san infrastrcuture which replicates between two sans over fiber between buildings on three networks and all the alerting using snmp (all of which I set up and works beautifully) back to physical servers and doubletake! soooo depressing.


                  That hurts. So of course, I have to ask... WHY?!?!




                  I was reading the 70-293 book and I realised I am beginning to "think" like Microsoft
                  It's all over from here.




                  One thing I noticed about the mcse is that if you focus on the more obscure and complex areas you can almost be guaranteed they will come up.
                  Oddly enough, it has been mostly the opposite with me. I thought to myself "Surely they wouldn't test me on such paltry stuff as [insert vanilla technology here]. I'll get really smart on [insert obscure bits here]." Of course I got hammered on some of the most common things, the fine details of which I was fuzzy on because I had spent my evenings learning about stray alpha particles. That cost me some points. Fortunately I've had more passes than fails.

                  Let us know how things go!
                  Wesley David
                  LinkedIn | Careers 2.0
                  -------------------------------
                  Microsoft Certifications: MCSE 2003 | MCSA:Messaging 2003 | MCITP:EA, SA, EST | MCTS: a'plenty | MCDST
                  Vendor Neutral Certifications: CWNA
                  Blog: www.TheNubbyAdmin.com || Twitter: @Nonapeptide || GTalk, Reader and Google+: [email protected] || Skype: Wesley.Nonapeptide
                  Goofy kitten avatar photo from Troy Snow: flickr.com/photos/troysnow/

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                  • #10
                    Re: mcse woes

                    Originally posted by Ossian View Post
                    I'm just going to add the usual three legs of the tripod

                    1) Learning, whether books or classes
                    2) Practice Tests
                    3) Practical Experience
                    To be short:
                    Why doesn't MS always presents a 'best practice case" exam question when they expect you to give a "best practice" answer?

                    Whatever any site states, it is kinda weird to simply declare that following a official MS course at a MS educational partner by a MCT combined with years of hand-on expierence is not enough to pass the exams.

                    MS is pushing some people to braindumps...
                    MCITP:EST | MCTS | MCSE 2k3 | MCSA 2k3 | MCP
                    A+ Core | ITIL-F

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