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The MCSE Track

Daniel Petri


The MCSE Certification
This site is made for my students, and I consider all of you out there, no matter where you are from – my students. Here you will be able to download and view articles and study guides that will help in your studies.
However you should always keep one thing in mind: You cannot be a true professional unless you know your material. Only practice makes us good, and without practice you will only be one of them – a “Paper MCSE“.
Read the Certification Requirements page for info on the MCSE credentials. Also look at the Studying Tips page for some great studying tips.

Someone is not being honest…

Microsoft has finally done the one thing they promised not to do: To force us, Windows 2000 MCSEs, to upgrade to the Windows Server 2003 MCSE track.
Yes, Microsoft has announced that when the Windows Server 2003 tests will become available sometime in the middle of 2003, people that already hold a valid W2K MCSE certification will have to re-certify on Windows Server 2003 if they want to keep their certification, just like they did to us when Windows 2000 came out.
This is after promising that the Windows 2000 and the Windows Server 2003 certifications will be interchangeable and that one could do a mixture of Windows 2000 and Windows Server 2003 tests in order to gain the MCSE certification.
I am sick of this game they’re playing with us. It’s not that I’m not going to certify on the new program. I would have done that anyway. It’s my job and it’s one (not so good, but the only currently available) method of proving my knowledge. I also teach MOC courses so I need to keep up with the material.
But why lie to us all this time? It’s for the same reason a dog licks his $#%$: Because they can.
The good part of the news is that unlike the shift from the NT 4.0 certification to the Windows 2000 track – where you were FORCED to re-certify or lose your certification if your didn’t – with the Windows Server 2003 certification track the game is still an open one. If you want to re-certify – do it. If not, you’ll still hold your old Windows 2000 certification.

What has happened to the MCSE certification?

The “paper MCSE”s have brought us down, just like I warned they would 2 years ago…
Only the best will survive.
Microsoft must find a way to stop the “Paper MCSE” monster today, before it ruins whatever is left of the once glorious MCSE certification. How can they do that? Here are a few good starting points:

  • Constantly change the questions and case studies – Create a bank of thousands of questions and case studies (not just 100-200) and keep on adding new questions;
  • Tighten exam security – stop Transcender and other companies from cheating and stealing the exams. Today everyone can find and buy screenshots taken with digital cameras from the actual MS exam centers;
  • Require proof of knowledge, not just A,B,C,D memorizing;
  • Tighten braindump monitoring – kill the sites that allow dump posting;
  • Experiment and add new testing technologies, just like Red Hat does with their Linux certification.
  • Require proof of the prerequisites required by each MOC course.

A few of these ideas might be hard or even impossible to implement, but failing to do so will only increase the chance of losing whatever respect may be left towards the MCSE certification. We need to turn the pyramid back on it’s base! The MCSE certification must proof your knowledge, and not the other way around!
Today the MCSE requirements are about as useless as reading and agreeing to the EULA (End User License Agreement) whenever you install any piece of software. You should read it and you should keep up to it’s demands, but as we all know, most of the time it’s just something everyone clicks on to in order to proceed with the software’s installation and nothing more.
To see what is Microsoft’s current standing on the MCSE requirements – read the Certification Requirements page.
Microsoft’s official statement says: ” We know that maintaining the value of the MCP credential is as important to you as it is to us. A while back, we let you know the steps we have been taking to protect the investment you are making through Microsoft certification. These steps include deployment of progressive testing technologies that discourage rote memorization of exam items, regular exam item replacement, tighter security at testing centers, and the revised exam retake policy. As part of our ongoing effort to keep Microsoft certification strong, credible, and valued, we’d like to update you now on recent actions we’ve taken.”

And I say Baaahh…
Microsoft says: “Keeping exams as secure as possible helps maintain the value of Microsoft certification and ensures that only qualified information technology professionals are identified as MCPs. You can help us protect your certification investment by discouraging fellow MCPs who may be sharing exam questions or answers. If you know of Web sites or individuals who may be disclosing Microsoft certification exam information, send e-mail to or telephone (800) 636-7544. Provide as much detail as possible so that we will be able to take appropriate action. We will investigate all credible leads.”
Again I say Duuuhhh… Yeah right! Like they care! You can call and e-mail them all day long. They won’t move a finger. In fact, I bet they non-officially encourage some of the sites and testing companies like *Transgender* to continue with their publications. As far as MS is concerned the more MCSEs the more big $$$ to uncle Bill…

What happened to the current MCSE tests?

It now seems that the format of the MCP and MCSE exams is changing. Is this change enough? Didn’t it come to late for us? Only time will tell.
Microsoft explains:
“Microsoft has changed the format of the exam result report that candidates receive after taking a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) exam. As part of the company’s effort to protect the integrity of Microsoft certifications for MCPs and their employers, Microsoft has eliminated numerical score information from the exam results reports. Exam result reports based on new exams released since December 2001 now indicate only pass or fail status.
Candidates do not receive feedback on each exam section, and candidates no longer receive an overall numerical score. The results report format for the majority of exams released before December 2001 will undergo a transition to the new format during the 2002 calendar year.
Microsoft is aware that candidates appreciated receiving a numerical score as part of their report. However, there was increasing evidence that some candidates were misusing this information to represent their relative success on the exams. Microsoft certification exams are designed to identify candidates who are able to perform a specific job function; they are not designed to differentiate among candidates who demonstrate the appropriate skill level; a higher-scoring candidate is not necessarily better able to perform the associated job function than a lower-scoring candidate who also passed the exam. In addition, Microsoft replaces exam items regularly to minimize item exposure and protect exam security; therefore, comparing numerical scores from different versions of the same exam is inappropriate and not meaningful.
To understand customer needs, MCP program staff met with a group of MCPs to hear their views on various potential results report formats. Providing numerical scores was not presented as an option. Among the possibilities considered were graphical displays that would provide some relative feedback about performance without providing a numerical score. This group overwhelmingly preferred a simple pass or fail output on their results reports rather than a graphical display.
Customers have told us that they would like to have feedback such as numerical scores to help them assess areas of improvement. Microsoft certification exams are designed to validate a candidate’s ability to perform a specific job function or set of tasks in the real world. They are neither designed nor intended to provide feedback on areas for potential improvement or to distinguish among individuals who are capable of performing the relevant job function or set of tasks. To obtain diagnostic feedback, we recommend that candidates take advantage of MCP practice tests from approved providers. ”
For the third time I say BOOOO… Simply talking about it or doing stupid moves like not displaying the pass/fail score on your exam does not help our goal. You need to do a lot more before the paper MCSE civilization ceases to exist.
Do you feel you can contribute to this constantly growing site? I’d like to get help on some issues, so please drop me a line or two .

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