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Need advice(s) about MCSA/MCSE certs.

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  • Need advice(s) about MCSA/MCSE certs.

    Daniel if you could please take this one,
    I'm about to start studying in Ramat Gan's college next month, MCSA and MCSE.
    I been told that It's recommended to do the PC A+ technician course (CompTIA), just to have a better "base" before the MCSA/MCSE, so I'm going to do that.
    First, A+ PC technician, then MCSA, and then MCSE.
    My question(s) are as follows:
    1.Will I be able to pass the exams?(A+,MCSA/MCSE), I never had any real experience with networking, nor with hardware.
    On the other hand, I'm not going to study by myself, I will be doing the best I can to pass these exams, I will be practicing alot, plus I'm taking that A+ course with Networking module (The basics only I guess).

    *Or alternative, you think I should not start with these courses before I get some real experience? (In that case I will have to wait 3 years, to finish the army first ).

    Thank you.

  • #2
    Re: Need advice(s) about MCSA/MCSE certs.

    Let me know if other people are allowed to answer this.
    VCDX3 #34, VCDX4, VCDX5, VCAP4-DCA #14, VCAP4-DCD #35, VCAP5-DCD, VCPx4, vEXPERTx4, MCSEx3, MCSAx2, MCP, CCAx2, A+ - VMware Virtualization Evangelist
    My advice has no warranties. Follow at your own risk.


    • #3
      Re: Need advice(s) about MCSA/MCSE certs.

      Jason, I'm sure Shay didn't mean me in particular...

      Daniel Petri
      Microsoft Most Valuable Professional - Active Directory Directory Services


      • #4
        Re: Need advice(s) about MCSA/MCSE certs.

        Hi Shay,
        Assuming you don't mind others jumping in on this thread....

        IMHO there is no substitute for real world experience, gained either before or during your MCSE studies.

        As a possible strategy, consider taking your A+ to gain some background and see if, during your Army (National Service?) career you can work in IT in some way.

        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

        ** Remember to give credit where credit is due and leave reputation points where appropriate **


        • #5
          Re: Need advice(s) about MCSA/MCSE certs.

          Originally posted by jasonboche
          Let me know if other people are allowed to answer this.
          Of course Jason, thank you.

          Hey Ossian, thanks for your reply.
          About the experience, then what do you think is the best way for me to get "Real experience", before, or during the MCSA/MCSE studies.

          About the army, I am doing my best to get into the "Computers units", Although It's not easy as I'm already in other unit and It's not that simple to move from one to another unit(s).

          Thanks again.


          • #6
            Re: Need advice(s) about MCSA/MCSE certs.

            IMHO you could get a couple of books and read them to get a better understanding of computers while you're waiting to get transferred. There's no replacement for experience but books definitely have value and can clarify cloudy areas.

            Network Consultant/Engineer
            Baltimore - Washington area and beyond


            • #7
              Re: Need advice(s) about MCSA/MCSE certs.

              Originally posted by JeremyW
              IMHO you could get a couple of books and read them to get a better understanding of computers while you're waiting to get transferred. There's no replacement for experience but books definitely have value and can clarify cloudy areas.
              It is true, but just in case and I'm not getting into the "Computers unit" in the army, what then?
              Should I still get those books, though I'm taking a course?
              The courses are as follows:
              A+ - 5 months, 2 days a week, 4 hours each day (8 weekly hours).
              MCSA/MCSE - 10 months, 2 days a week, 4 hours each day (8 weekly hours as well), and we're getting learning material, to practice at home at least another 15 hours a week.
              By the way, the MCSA/MCSE course build in a way that we do a module (For example, Network and Essentials, then we do the Microsoft exams, then we go on to the next module/exams.
              You think in this way I will be able to do well in the exams Although I don't have any real experience at the moment?
              I guess the A+, and its networking part, will get me a good base.
              Plus in the course(s) we'll be having practical lessons too.
              - Appreciated.


              • #8
                Re: Need advice(s) about MCSA/MCSE certs.

                Well I've never taken any classes but my guess would be that they vary in quality. But the format of course/exam seems like a good idea. I don't know how it will compare with real experience though.

                4 hour classes 2 times a week with 15 hours of homework? That's over 3 hours a day and that's after (or before) work.

                Network Consultant/Engineer
                Baltimore - Washington area and beyond


                • #9
                  Re: Need advice(s) about MCSA/MCSE certs.


                  The program I teach is in the following order: A+, Network+, then Microsoft courses. I find that as I progress thru this order, one course builds on the next. That is A+ teaches basic and intermediate concepts, Network+ builds on them and adds network specific knowledge, and then MS courses build on that knowledge (70-270 XP is recommended first MS course). Plus added benefit of using A+/Network+ combo as the elective for MCSA.

                  Any real world experience you get helps and hopefully your classes will provide hands-on as well as lectures. I split my class time 50/50 between the two, but then my students take a 12 to 18 months to finish entire program.

                  A note on the A+ exam. The currrent 2-exam set (301 and 302) will be retired at the end of this year. A new exam set will take their place with a core exam (A+ Essentials) covering hardware and software and then one of three specialty exams (based on your amount of interaction with a customer). Further info at

                  So make sure that if you put in that amount of study time, that you take both of your exams before the end of the year.

                  Good luck and let me know how I can help,

                  MSCA (2000 & 2003), MCSE (2000 & 2003), A+, Net+
                  Next exams:70-298, 70-299 & Security+ for MCSE + Security
                  "Never argue with a fool, because someone standing 15 feet away will not know which one of you is the fool."


                  • #10
                    Re: Need advice(s) about MCSA/MCSE certs.

                    Want experience? - join the Navy as an IT.

                    I'm a newb to the forum and would like to throw out a formal introduction to the community.

                    My Background: Retired IT from US Navy, currently an IT Specialist for the Government and a part time consulant for local SoHo businesses.
                    Certs: A+, Net+ MCP

                    I just received word from my CIO that they are rounding up all the MCSE's within our organisation to provide them additional paid training. WHOA That said, I am now a potential candidate and I have to cram the 293 and 294 before they decide to nominate someone else I don't want this to be a wasted oppurtunity b/c like most of us networking gurus I enjoy learning (especially if my employer is going to pay for it).

                    To Shaye or anybody looking for advice to MCSE certification success, here is my 2 cents.

                    Shaye if you want to work exclusively with computers and in air condition you might want to think Airforce or Navy both of which have a much wider arena of technical space.
                    Those that are not ready to enlist for Uncle Sam...You can take any low paying entry level job in a Data Center/ISP Volunteer your IT services for family and friends while working towards MCSE.

                    I firmly believe that you should be in somehow shape or fashion be working in the field to gain the practical experience and knowledge necessary to pass the MCSE exams. These exams are getting harder and are written specifically for measuring what a network administrator does on a daily basis. Sure, some might argue that they know people with zero experience that read a book or 2 and in less than 6 months passed all 7 of the exams but this is not the recommended approach. Not to mention you will not gain anything from the rush through approach. You might have the piece of paper but this distorts the perception and credibility of the "MCSE". I guarantee you will be asked by your employer to show and prove your MCSE skills as soon as you start working. Also, I guarantee there will be a tech savvy employee at your new job challenging you or guaging your level of knowledge, skills and abilities. All of us IT types are competitive and pompous professionals who sometimes think we are smarter than the next so you can bet somebody will test your MCSE status and you will be faced with a daunting task that you better be able to complete to avoid criticism.
                    So make no mistake about it, misleading your employer into thinking you are a Microsoft certified professional can destroy your name around town and cost you your job if you can't perform what you boldly put on your resume. Just thought I would highlite that because I often hear experienced IT professionals talking bad about MCSE's that don't have any practical skills.

                    I managed to get A+,Net+ MCP in 3 short months with dedicating about 3 hours of study a day but that was 3 years ago and I was still in the Navy with shore duty orders. At that time I had only 3 years of experience in IT. I then started working on my degree in IT and kind of got interrupted with my goal of achieving MCSE status. After graduating, and 2 kids later I decided to jump back into things and luckily for me my 210 exam carried over to the 2003 track; then a partnership between CompTIA and MS gave me the credit for the elective. Just like that I am half way there, that's great news. It was nice to know I was that much closer even after being away from the MCSE books for almost 3 years.

                    To make a long story short, I just passed the 290 exam a few months back but failed the 291 by only a few points. Frustrated and crushed I took a break from studying to regroup and collect my thoughts.

                    Today, I got wind of the MCSE oppurtunity I mentioned earlier and so now I am back at it again. For some this might be easy but this has proven to be a difficult task for me, with a wife and 5 kids phew barely any time to breathe.
                    studying can be very time consuming. I Started to question what I did wrong on my last exam that I failed a few months ago and the answer is simple. Most successful people will tell you the same, that you have to fail before you succeed.
                    Now that I am back on track and ready to rock and roll with little time on my hands (remember this is no excuse). I will be up in the wee hours of the night studying.

                    Time to break stuff...
                    "Wait", I can't break anything at my work because I would be effecting multiple users and mission critical systems.
                    Determined to succeed, I figured its time to re-image all 5 of my PC's at home and begin setting up my own domain at home...Started with 2003 DC and a few XP PRO clients to introduce errors, problems and anything else that I can corrupt that will allow me to fix and learn. The key is Break, Fix and learn.

                    Lessons learned and I have a few to share from my MCSE experience.

                    I've been practicing the 'measureup' questions and using 'self-test software' for the exam prep and found this is the most realistic question prep for the actual exam both of which are endorsed by MS. Be sure to do simulations and create your own SIMS covering important topics you come accross in your study material.
                    Furthermore, prepare for exam by going over common tasks and ofcourse the not so common tasks (i.e. cmd line).

                    My advice is just that, advice- but so far its worked for me with a few hicups along the way.
                    Follow this:
                    1) Break into the field anyway you can and get to work in IT. Preferably a company that has mid-size to large network. I.E. an ISP or data center.
                    This can be a tough cookie to crack with absolutely NO experience so that's why I always suggest volunteering for one of the more technical branches of the armed forces (Navy or Airforce).
                    The main advantage is the experience with fairly modern equipment/platforms. The biggest disadvantage is that you will be sacrificing everything you had including your family and friends. College and a part time job in IT might be better if you can afford to do so.

                    2) When you get your foot in the door and you do have some downtime from your job, study all the free resources you can dig up legally. The Internet is a great place to start with an abundance of resources but TechNet is the best. To ensure success you might have to shell out a few hundred bucks for some valuable CBT's or good study guides but don't just stick to one guide, remember no single guide is the best out there. With quality training comes price but I for one don't think you should empty your savings for one of those bootcamps. Official courses are fine but again the classes are very expensive and not worth the money (unless ofcourse your employer is flipping the bill for them). IMO you could just as well gain the same level of knowledge or better from a CBT or DVD recorded training session for a fraction of the cost and the best thing about it... you can play it again and again until you are subnetting in your sleep.

                    3) Practice what you are learning from your reading at your work by paying attention to every little step and detail that goes into what you are troubleshooting and take mental notes of the steps you took to get your resolution. Replay the events in your head that led up to your answer. Try to mentally recreate the user's problem and your actions to resolve the problem.
                    Get back to your desk and document your findings, brainstorm a bit, replay some more and tell your coworkers what you discovered. It helps to get other technician's answers about a problem. Tap their brains for answers or ideas. Get some feedback fm your customers/coworkers about the trouble call as this scneario helps to recall valuable information that might pop up on the exam. You can remember the conversation so clearly from doing all the above that you will more than likely know the right answer on the exam.

                    4) Step 3 helps tremendously, but more training at home provides that added benefit of repetition. I'm finding home training a much more comfortable environment with less pressure. The LAN at work is so tightly managed and access to certain policies and soforth are controlled only by Enterprise Admins. I can for example author policies but I can't edit other's.I rarely get trouble calls on my shift so my job is more of back-end maintenance. Also, I don't get to play with everything I would like to get my hands on due to the separation of duties that are involved when working for the government in a "highly secure" enterprise network environment. Admins are delegated authority through several hundred or more different admins.
                    Again, practice some more when you get home by either using multiple computers or if you can't buy more than 3 PC's then by using VMware to create virtual machines in networked environment.

                    5) Don't give up, if you fail an exam take a few weeks off, or a month long break then dive back in with 110 percent and focus on actually passing next time around. Visualize yourself passing the exam.

                    6) This is by far the most important piece of advice I can offer and that is get plenty of rest the night before the exam and schedule the exam on a day that allows you to take the exam at your "peak" time. The peak time for everyone is different. Like me, I work second shift so my peak time is roughly 7:00pm.
                    The problem is not every facility offers the exam on weekends or at the times you desire. So if you have to drive an hour away, then do it but schedule it accordingly. I highly recommend that take your exam at 'your ideal day and time'.
                    I will be the first to admit that my poor test results were due to lack of sleep or bad timing on the day of exam. Don't cram too much either. Don't make the same mistake because these exams are not cheap, clear your head before you take a seat.
                    Take a deep breathe, relax and take your time (not too much) you will do fine.

                    This was my first post and I hope this helps and I hope to learn something from everyone in here as well.

                    Last edited by itpro; 13th July 2006, 05:03.
                    MCSE, CCNA


                    • #11
                      Re: Need advice(s) about MCSA/MCSE certs.


                      I want to thank you for the time you took to write your lengthy answer. I agree with almost everything written there. That's the best approach to IT study.

                      As for the original poster - Shay - I believe he's from Israel and not from the US. Here young people like Shay are required to do a 3 year military service, unless you have a good medical or mental reason for not doing it.

                      So the question before Shay is should he go to the army/navy/af/intel and pursue a computer/IT Pro 3-year career, or to do the same 3 years but doing something else (I don't know if he's fit for combat duty or not, but if he's not, there are a million other positions he can go for). If he's into computers seriously and is not identified as being fit for combat units, he'll be better off doing computer-related jobs. Our army/intel/af/navy has quite a few extraordinary positions for those few extraordinary people. I don't know if Shay is one of them. But even if he's not hand-picked for those elite computer-related positions, he might still find himself in some "regular" IT job, learning, working, and most important - gaining crucial experience.

                      That's my 2 cents.


                      Daniel Petri
                      Microsoft Most Valuable Professional - Active Directory Directory Services
                      MCSA/E, MCTS, MCITP, MCT


                      • #12
                        Re: Need advice(s) about MCSA/MCSE certs.

                        thanks, I forgot I was posting on a IL server.


                        Yes, that was an extremely long post but if I can help anyone that is interested in a career, but needs some direction then its certainly worth it. There was a time where I was confused and angry because just like what you're going through at the moment, I remember I couldn't do exactly what I wanted to do either. I completely understand your circumstances about the Army investing in 'what they need' as opposed to 'what you want'

                        Tips to work through your situation:
                        My naval career took a turn for the worst in their eyes,when I was diagnosed with a condtioned that rendered me unfit from my normal duties aboard a ship. I saw this as an oppurtunity to get limited duty orders and focus on bigger and better things. Prior to my medical condition I was very healthy and I made every effort to get the schools I needed and it eventually worked in my favor. Try the same approach I took... I got recognition in that area by assisting those that were working in ADP and let my superiors know that I prefered that type of work over the boring job I was assigned with radio communications. They said I could do both and I did for awhile, but later I was able to take over in that department because I was the only person left that knew anything about our network infrastucture.
                        They let me attend college and work on my certifications just before they retired me under a medical disablity. I was very fortunate under my circumstances to have had things lined up before they threw me under a bus and discharged me.

                        If I was you...
                        I would find a way to shadow the guys that do work in the computer department and get noticed any way you can. Ask to learn from them after hours and become friends with the ones that are already working in IT. I am not sure how strict the Israeli Army is when it comes to progessing in other areas but I am guessing they would certainly let you explore with a security clearance of course. Once you make a name for yourself and you respectfully annoy the right people your division officer may let you cross over. It won't be easy since everyone seems to want to work in IT now days but its worth a shot. You have to really want it!

                        At any rate good luck and at the very least continue to read your A+ book in front of your boss. This will show them that you are determined to get what you want.

                        Last edited by itpro; 14th July 2006, 00:37.
                        MCSE, CCNA