Preparing for the MCSE SharePoint 2013 Core Solutions 70-331 Exam

Are you considering delving deeper into SharePoint 2013? Or are you recently finding yourself at the start of a SharePoint project that you don’t know much about? At Petri IT Knowledgebase, we’ve written a lot about SharePoint 2013. We have articles on everything from farm configuration to working with content types to help you learn the basics. But if you’re looking to do more, and understand more about how SharePoint works, you might want to consider studying for (and taking) the MCSE exams in SharePoint 2013.

Like many of the current MCSE certifications, the MCSE: SharePoint certification includes three tests on the current Windows Server platform. In addition to your three server exams, you’ll need to take two SharePoint-specific exams: Core Solutions in SharePoint 2013 (70-331) and Advanced Solutions in SharePoint 2013 (70-332).

This article gives you a roundup of training and other things you can use to help you study for and achieve the SharePoint 2013 Core Solutions (70-331) exam.

Books for the Core Solutions in SharePoint (70-331) Exam

I recommend that you use at least two different books to help you study for the 70-331. First, you should get a book that covers the course material and the exam outline, such as the Exam Reference from Microsoft Press. Second, you’re going to need a good reference for general administration of SharePoint 2013.

Whether you prefer digital or printed books doesn’t matter. There are some great books for the SharePoint 2013 exams available in both Kindle form and paperback.

Computer-Based Training for the Core Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013

There are some really great options for computer-based training. If you’re going to take your training seriously, you might want to get a monthly subscription to Pluralsight, which used to be a resource for developers, but since purchasing Trainsignal in 2013 they now have a lot of content for IT professionals as well.

Here is a quick sample from the Pluralsight course on Core Solutions of SharePoint 2013:

If you can’t quite swing the monthly subscription for the training, then you can always do some searching for video training or try these links below.

Channel 9: Microsoft’s technical video library has a lot of free video training for SharePoint 2013.

Microsoft Virtual Academy: Microsoft’s gamified technical learning center includes several different courses on working with SharePoint 2013, from administering Office 365 to developing core solutions.

Microsoft Technet: Another source for free video training on SharePoint 2013 is Microsoft Technet’s TechCenter for SharePoint 2013. This is a great resource for SharePoint administrators, and it provides more than 50 videos spread across 14 modules to help get you up to speed and knowing your stuff.

Virtual Labs for SharePoint 2013

Virtual labs for SharePoint 2013 give you the ability to get some hands-on experience going through the setup, configuration, and monitoring of many of the core features of SharePoint 2013.

Here are some examples of the virtual labs that can help give you a better understanding of SharePoint 2013, which will only help your ability to pass the 70-331 exam.

  • Introduction to Web Content Management in SharePoint 2013
  • Enterprise Content Management with SharePoint Online
  • Exploring Social Features in SharePoint 2013
  • Deploying Site Mailboxes

Virtual labs are free to take, and you don’t have to setup your own lab environment.

Hands-On Labs for SharePoint 2013

If you want to take the labs, but you also want to take more time and explore your environments, you can also use the lab setup guides to recreate the labs in your own environment. You can use your VMWare or Hyper-V hosts to create your virtual machines, or you can take advantage of Azure to create your VMs.

No matter where your virtual machines live, you can use the SharePoint 2013 lab setup guides to help you get your SharePoint 2013 environment just right for learning.

Oh Yeah, About Azure…

With Windows Azure, you can create virtual machines and a whole SharePoint environment in the cloud. You can pay for it with a monthly subscription, or you can sign up for a free trial to take it for a test spin.

If you’re already an MSDN subscriber, you get Azure services as part of your MSDN subscription. If you’re not already an MSDN member, you might want to talk to your Microsoft rep about including some MSDN subscriptions as part of your license agreement or talk to your boss about just getting an MSDN license for you.

Other Cloud Providers Besides Azure

Windows Azure works great, but there is a lot of setup that goes along with creating the environment there. You have to create the VMs, plus install and configure the software. There are some shortcuts, but basically you’re creating the environment yourself. If you are looking for something more “turnkey,” there are some third-party companies that will get you SharePoint in the cloud with just a few clicks.

Classroom-Based Training for 70-331

Of course, you can’t dismiss the idea of getting in some dedicated training time. If it’s in your budget and classroom-based training works for you, then instructor-led training course 20331B is a five-day course that covers the material relevant to the 70-331 exam.

Personal Experience

For me, it took about two months to get ready for this exam. I wanted to be sure that I knew the material, and I had a great grasp of the information before I went in. After the first month of study, I rescheduled my exam to give me another month to prepare.

Between reading, exploring, viewing on-demand training and working through virtual labs (plus trying to have a life and hold down a job), it took me that long to get through all the material. Maybe I could have rushed it, but I found it tough to keep a balance between studying and completing my other responsibilities, and it just couldn’t have gone much faster for me.

Good luck!