Here is a collection of studying tips I’ve put together for my students. You don’t have to follow them on the word, but doing so will increase your chances of passing the MCSE certification tests – and even better – become a knowledgeable person, not just one of those “Paper MCSE“…
Yes. I’ll try to give you a short version of what I tell my own students:
My first and most important tip is to “Learn by Doing”. There are many ways to practice the skills you want to teach. You should base your studies on practice and practice and guess what? Practice. Don’t take my word for granted. Try everything out yourself. Build a home network, wreck it and re-build it. Try it all for yourself, and if you get to a point where you can’t do something yourself, go wreck someone else’s computer.
Work with the product. Use your imagination. Envision a scenario. Plan the scenario. Implement the scenario. Install and configure, try the various features, create error situations and troubleshoot them. Ask yourself questions about the process. Push the boundaries. Be conscious as you click the Next button.
To better your understanding of the OS you should use it every day. You cannot go on using Windows 98 SE while you’re trying to be a professional at Windows 2000 or any other OS for that matter. I cannot accept the sorry excuse that I hear quite often: “I can’t play games on W2K, that’s why I’ll stick with Win98… I can get a chance to practice at class, but at home I’ll keep Win98…” You must breath, smell and sleep with the product, that’s the only way to really KNOW it.
You can get a free copy of Windows 2000 right HERE. You can also buy the MS-Press books and you’ll get a free evaluation CD of both Windows 2000 Advanced Server and Professional. Go to the Book Recommendations page and see what titles are best for your needs.
See the following link for more info on how you can download 120-day trial versions of other Microsoft server products, such as Exchange 2000, ISA Server, SQL Server, SMS, SBS and other .NET features:
Download Microsoft Evaluation Products
You should gather as much knowledge as you can from any resource out there and lurk around on newsgroups and e-mail newsletters.
Attend or review the course you’re studying for. Attending the MOC Training course is an excellent method of gaining technical skills. The course you choose to attend should be delivered by an experienced MCT who has experience delivering Microsoft courses. If you cannot attend a course, review the materials and complete the labs in your own setting. Practice error situations. Complete the course labs and try to insert error situations into the lab.
Attend or review higher-level or complimentary courses. Attend a course or review the material of courses with content that complements or provides deeper technical information to supplement your technical knowledge.
Review technical papers that may be available and practice any techniques or procedures described. See my Links and Tools page for links to white-papers and step-by-step guides.
Before you do the actual tests, I suggests you first finish your books and topics. Sit down for a few days and go over all the topics covered in the MCP exam.
When you think you know it all – do one test. If you pass or fail is of no importance. Find out how you feel about the questions. If you miss a few, go right back to the books and see what your mistakes were. Trust no one, only yourself.
Practice the test environment by buying or downloading test simulations and guides. Some test simulation packages are better then the others. is What testing program you use is indeed important. There are a few *good* testing programs in the market, and there are a lot of *crappy* stuff. Ask around in newsgroups and on various forums to get a feel for what’s considered ok and what’s not.
Don’t use pirated software, not even at home, where the risk of being caught is minimal. As I said before, stealing and robbing is NOT the preferred way into the IT world and yes, using pirated or cracked software is considered a crime in most countries.
Don’t cheat and don’t check yourself while doing practice tests. When I say “cheating” I mean pressing the “Grade Now” (or similar) button on the test interface BEFORE you are perfectly sure of what the correct answer is. You should be mature enough to have a self discipline and know that cheating will not help you in the long run. You must know the material and the product inside out, and cheating is not the right way to do it.
When you think you know it all, do another test, and correct yourself. Do it all over and over again. When in doubt, go to the books or ask your instructor (or me if you must).
As I said, you need to KNOW the material. Study, read the MOC, read additional resources, practice all the time, build a home network, know the stuff inside out. Then, go do some practice tests. Try one and see how you score. Go over it and look at all the answers. See which one you got wrong and why, and then go back to your books and see how it’s supposed to be answered.
Go over each failed answer this way. Draw your questions and make a keywords list. Then, when you think you know the stuff, go over that same practice test and see how much you got the second time. If you fail or get less than 900-1000 on the practice test, go back to your books until you know WHY you failed, and you know the material you failed on.
When you’re doing the practice test don’t guess the right answer. This is a practice test, not the real one, so you need to be 100% sure you know what you’re doing. If you don’t, go back to the books.
Do this to each and every practice test you have. For each test see how you got the first time, and go back to your books until you know WHY it’s the right answer. Don’t memorize, know why to choose this answer and not the other. Microsoft will re-phrase their questions and answers, and if you just memorize you’ll end up with the wrong questions and the wrong answers.
The good thing about braindumps is that they give you a clue to how the actual exam looks like. The downside is that by reading them 2 things might happen to you:
Braindumps are not useless, but they are very misleading and have a lot of wrong answers. The problem with Braindumps is that they will give you all sorts of so-called scientific reasons for why this or other answer is in fact the correct answer, and this can be very problematic for someone who doesn’t know his stuff in the first place. Furthermore most dumps are full of mistakes, and since each dump is a copy of the previous one, the mistakes are propagated along as time goes by.
After scoring 1000 on all your legal practice tests and knowing the material inside out, you CAN go and look at braindumps. See how poorly worded they are. See how pathetic their answers are. See all the errors and mistakes. Know why they are wrong.
Get a feel for the questions other people had. You’ll end up reading the first line, and already knowing the answer, because you KNOW it, not because some 17 year-old kid wrote a dump saying it should be A not B…
Remember it’s only a test. The worst case scenario is that you’ll have to re-write it.
Remember that the Microsoft exams will not prove your knowledge of the product. They will test you ability to read, remember and quickly answer questions, but they will not prove that you actually know the stuff inside out. It’s up to you to prove it, and waving a paper certificate isn’t the way to do it. Read more about it on the Paper MCSE page.
Yes! Here are some helpful tips and tricks for passing the exams:
The purpose of this technique is that reading more questions before answering a specific question sometimes reminds us of the answers. Instead of wasting valuable time on questions we don’t know how to answer, we proceed and answer the majority of the questions and are left with only a few questions we’ll need to guess.
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