Ok. So you think you know which MCSE path you would like to pursue? Lets take a look at what to expect from the exams.
What Kind of Questions can I expect?
This is the #1 question I get asked in regards to Microsoft Exams. I often see people on blogs or forums tippy-toe around this question in an effort to avoid violating Microsoft’s non disclosure agreement.
Microsoft actually posts all the test question formats on their website, providing video examples of what to expect from each type of question. I can personally attest that all of these question formats do in fact appear on Microsoft’s certification exams. From my experience only the higher tier exams have case studies.
View all Microsoft question formats here – Be sure to expand “Exam formats and question types” at the bottom
How Many Questions Will The Exam Have?
Another popular question. The amount of questions varies from test to test. Typically each exam will have 50-65 questions.
It is very unlikely that you will see two similar tests. If you fail once, do not rely on your next test being the same. It may not be. Do not rely on your friends telling you what questions they had on their test. Not only is that against Microsoft’s agreement, but you likely wont receive the same test they did.
To improve integrity of tests, Microsoft does reset their question pools. I do not know the frequency of these resets.
Unlike Cisco exams, Microsoft allow for a “review” period where you can look over your questions and make corrections. This is a huge advantage as questions or answer keys may contain hints that help you solve questions you completed earlier in the test.
Unless you have a great deal of hands on experience, expect ALOT of study time. As you will see in the next section “How to Prepare”, it is recommended that you use multiple resources and have a strong mix of videos, reading and labs.
If you are fortunate enough to work for a company who offers payed education leave, I recommend taking a week and covering as much material as possible. In 5 days you can comfortably finish a CBTnuggets.com course, practice labs, and your practice exams. I was able to complete 70-410, 70-411 and 70-412 each in a week (3 weeks total). However, I have extensive hands on experience and probably crammed 60+ hours of studying (CBTnuggets videos, my self made study guides, technet and transcender tests) into each week.
It is important to understand that getting certified is not a race. Microsoft exams aren’t going anywhere. It is important to pace yourself and avoid getting burned out.
Microsoft exams can be challenging. There is a ton of material that is covered in each exam. It is possible that if you do not prepare enough, you may fail an exam.
I will tell you the same thing I tell my co-workers and friends. I would much rather fail an exam and pass the second time with an 85% than pass the first time with a 70%.
When you fail an exam, you are given a printout of what areas you are strong in and what areas need work. Take this opportunity to strengthen your weaknesses and become a master of the content.
Microsoft caps out exam retakes at 5 per year. If you fail an exam more than 5 times, you will require special permission to retake it. Unfortunately, unless you have a retake voucher, each do-over requires you to pay.