Recently, I have passed the last exam in a row – 70 -412 – to earn a desired MCSA status. My path is not over – now I am heading for MCSE in messaging, but in this post I will describe all that helped me in my preparation, and all resources you need to achieve the same goal.

MCSA How to pass the exams: Theory

First, you need a solid theoretical base. Passing Microsoft exams is not an easy task. And knowing What to do can save your score. You can’t remember every powershell cmdlet, especially if you do not use it on a regular basis in your everyday work. But here is a clue. I loveMicrosoft products for they are Logical and easy to understand and remember. The naming convention for powershell cmdlets and utilities is created in the same way. So, to answer correctly, you must know the details of what you need to do and how the feature works, and choose the answer. Let me give you some examples.
Remember, that this is only a clue – prepare for long and hard learning of the details. Microsoft questions are very, very tricky. But – thanks to Microsoft – they also provide great books for putting your knowledge in a system. Exam reference books are best for that. They are rather small, so you can read any of them in a week or two, but they contain lots of theory and practice useful not only for preparation, but also in your work like a pocket guide.

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MCSA How to pass the exams: Practice

Sad but true – that is not enough. One time of doing something worth ten times of reading about something. You need practice, a lot. And this is where another Microsoft books come into play – the Training guides. Of course, you will need a testing environment, your lab. Don’t worry, it’s simple to build one – for example, I took rather old PC with i3 and 4Gb memory on board, and installed Windows 2012 R2 on it. And you can download and use it legally for 180 days without activation – so you have plenty of time for practicing. Next, the Hyper-v role and different virtual machines. That is where these books are useful – they contain virtual machine roles and configurations, and the steps how to deploy and configure the feature or role you are reading about. Sometimes they are even more useful than exam reference! In my case, training guide gave more understanding of NPS than exam reference, for example.

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MCSA How to pass the exams: More resources

Next essential thing – focus on powershell, always. For me, it is the most useful and powerful tool of server management. Get used to it. And remember – in most cases you will be asked how to do things with powershell, not gui. Sad to say, but neither exam ref nor training guide are not enough for that. There are two ways of solving this problem – hard and true way and easy and dangerous way. Let’s begin with the first one.

The Technet. That is not a short ref, but an encyclopedia of commands and parameters. So, when you are studying a topic – for example, WDS – always search TechNet for the ways to deploy and administer WDS by powershell. Take some time to explore cmdlets – for this is one of the best ways to prepare for the exams. May be you won’t meet much of these cmdlets in exam – but every correct answer gets you closer to the goal. And you will surely use them in your work.

There is another way, the exam dumps. That is a very dangerous way of preparation. Dumps are very easy to find. The most popular site with them is the examcollection.com There you can find many dumps for your purpose. Yes, to use them, you need to buy a program… but, there is a cost-saving way – convert them to pdf. Use them  with caution. First, carefully read comments – many use them, but not all get the profit. There are many old dumps, so use only 1-2 most actual. And do not trust the answers provided – there are many mistakes. This is why I’m describing them in the end – knowledge from the books we`ve talked earlier can help you to find the mistakes. And the TechNet will help you, when books won’t. Yes. dumps are extremely helpful, but do not Ever rely on them as the only source for preparation – you will fail.

And my advice… is to use all the ways I’ve mentioned. First, begin with exam reference. Second – practice in your lab with Training guides. Use the TechNet frequently, and try to remember powershell cmdlets and command line utilities. More than 50% questions are about them. At last, test yourself with answering the questions from the dumps – and check every answer.

Now let’s look at the list of topics you need to pay attention most. That is just my opinion.

MCSA How to pass the exams: Pay attention most

70-410:

  • Configure local storage
  • Configure file and share access
  • Configure file and share access
  • Hyper-V -and again, virtual machine storage
  • IPv6 and v6 – this will help you in the next exams
  • Group policy

70-411:

  • NPS – that is a KEY topic for the exam, and the Most hard topic for understanding in all of three exams.
  • FSRM – that will help you in 70-412
  • Advanced audit
  • WDS and images

70-412:

  • High availability
  • Disaster recovery
  • Identity and access – Pay attention, many questions about that

I hope you will find this information helpful. If you have any questions about preparing for exams – feel free to ask! And remember – the devil is in the details, an the more details you learn and remember, the higher will be your score!