Study Methodology for Microsoft Exams - What worked for you?

ericchambers1940ericchambers1940 Registered Users Posts: 3 ■□□□□□□□□□
Hello everyone!

Out of curiosity, what study methods, disciplines, and habits helped you in passing Microsoft exams (in general)?

I am specifically studying for the 70-410 and project to earn my MCSA 2012 r2 by early next year (I already paid/took classes for that release).

Thanks in advanced for the wisdom! icon_study.gif

Comments

  • GSXR750K2GSXR750K2 Member Posts: 325 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Welcome to the TechExams! :) I'm not sure what all your classes taught you or recommended, so I'll give the default answer...

    Build a lab, preferably a virtual one as it will save you a lot of time...plus, you'll spend some time getting to know Hyper-V, which will be needed anyways. It doesn't have to be a fancy lab box, it just needs to be enough to run two or three virtual machines (8 GB of RAM should be enough for them to function as needed). That will help get the repetition down for some of the more complicated activities.

    Also, pick up on PowerShell whenever possible. I don't recall how heavy it is as an exam topic, but it will serve you well in the real world. I'm not saying you need to learn it in depth, but PowerShell is being integrated more and more with Microsoft's technologies as a means of automation and management, so it is EXTREMELY handy to know. As a matter of fact, with the new Nano Server role in Server 2016, knowing PowerShell will be a necessity.

    As far as resources, I probably won't be as much help as some others here. I have many years of WinServ under my belt (going back to the NT 4.0 days), so I just used CBT Nuggets to get familiar with 2012's new roles and features and then did more in depth research into topics I didn't feel I had a good handle on.
  • poolmanjimpoolmanjim MCSE, MCSA: 2016, MCSA: 2012 KC, KS, USAMember Posts: 285 ■■■□□□□□□□
    1. I would say study at least 5 times a week. I normally studied 6-7 days a week for at least 1-2 hours a day (averaging 3-4 hours probably) but started to burn out about midway through the 70-411. At a certain point you get diminished returns. I think 5 days a week of study is plenty good. I also suggest one of those 5 days been a weekend day where you can put in 5+ hours of study reasonably. Those are the days I got a lot done.

    2. Lab everything. If you can do it in the GUI, do it in powershell. If you can't do it in Powershell, figure out the command that does it. If that still doesn't exist, you need to spend more time on Technet. My advice here is to build your lab using as much Server Core as you can get away with. There are a few solutions that still require full windows but they are fewer and far between.

    3. Have more than one resource. Don't depend on just videos or just a book as your main source of study. Go with both. I will warn you though, there is a such thing as too much information. If you have 13 books on Server 2012, you're unlikely to get through them, and get through them deep enough, before a reasonable test date.

    4. Don't become discouraged. There are topics that appeal to some more than others. For me, I love GPO and Active Directory. I have always enjoyed learning them and just really had fun messing with them. Strangely, even though DNS interests me I have struggled with it on the test. DirectAccess, NPS, and a couple of others were just hard for me to get my head around. Struggling is normal. Know what you can know and try to make up the difference in other areas.
    2019 Goals: Security+
    2020 Goals: 70-744, Azure
    Completed: MCSA 2012 (01/2016), MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure (07/2017), MCSA 2017 (09/2017)
    Future Goals: CISSP, CCENT
  • NetworkNewbNetworkNewb Member Posts: 3,298 ■■■■■■■■■□
    poolmanjim wrote: »
    I normally studied 6-7 days a week for at least 1-2 hours a day (averaging 3-4 hours probably) but started to burn out about midway through the 70-411. At a certain point you get diminished returns. I think 5 days a week of study is plenty good. I also suggest one of those 5 days been a weekend day where you can put in 5+ hours of study reasonably. Those are the days I got a lot done.

    Studying 3-4 hours a day, 6-7 days a weeks sounds insane btw. I guess if you didn't have a job or kids/wife icon_study.gif
  • poolmanjimpoolmanjim MCSE, MCSA: 2016, MCSA: 2012 KC, KS, USAMember Posts: 285 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Studying 3-4 hours a day, 6-7 days a weeks sounds insane btw. I guess if you didn't have a job or kids/wife icon_study.gif

    Had the job and the wife. No kids though. My wife was super supportive and knew that it was going to end eventually. I would get home about 5-5:30 and start studying around 6. Most nights I would study until 8 or 9 with many nights pushing past 10. I would often spend all day Saturday and part of Sunday studying hence where the averages come.
    2019 Goals: Security+
    2020 Goals: 70-744, Azure
    Completed: MCSA 2012 (01/2016), MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure (07/2017), MCSA 2017 (09/2017)
    Future Goals: CISSP, CCENT
  • SlowhandSlowhand MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, MCSA: Windows Server 2003/2012/2016, CCNA Routing & Switchi Bay Area, CaliforniaMod Posts: 5,161 Mod
    You can generally take a lot of different approaches, but I find that a combination of a book with plenty of labs to do during or after each section and chapter and videos are key. I like to supplement that with TechNet articles and helpful blog posts, whenever I can find them.

    I'm currently working on the 70-417 exam, (before I leapfrog right into the 70-743 exam.) It's been a while since I studied up on Windows technologies, so here's my approach, it may be useful for you even if you're doing the individual exams and not the upgrade path like I am:

    -

    I plan on sitting down and watching the complete CBT Nuggets video series for the exam, while taking notes. This gives me a good overview of what to expect from the material and the test.

    I'm going to read through the entirety of the Sybex book, making sure I do the labs and quizzes at the end of each chapter. This is the big haul for me, doing both a review and studying up on new technologies that weren't in Windows Server 2008.

    The next step is to work my way through the Skills Measured section of the exam blueprint. Microsoft has been helpful enough to provide links to relevant TechNet articles on each topic.

    Lastly, will be to do a final review. I'm going to be reading this book, which covers a brief overview of each topic for the exam, just to make sure I've covered everything. (Not a necessity, but I'm being a bit over-cautious since I also need to go RIGHT into the Windows Server 2016 material, and I don't want any gaps.)

    -

    That's the basic approach. I'll probably be spending about 2 - 3 hours per day, 5 - 6 days a week on this. Both CBT Nuggets and Pluralsight have excellent videos for the whole MCSA 2012 series. In the case of the individual exams, I'd say that the Don Poulton books are a little bit easier to read than Sybex, but both are excellent. The exam blueprints for 70-410, 70-411, and 70-412 all have the extra links to related articles, so that'll help. There's also a lot of free resources out there to look at, like various channels on YouTube, for example.

    Free Microsoft Training: Microsoft Learn
    Free PowerShell Resources: Top PowerShell Blogs
    Free DevOps/Azure Resources: Visual Studio Dev Essentials

    Let it never be said that I didn't do the very least I could do.
  • ericchambers1940ericchambers1940 Registered Users Posts: 3 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Wow! The response/advice in this thread has been phenomenal!

    Based off the advice and ideas I've read both here and at blogs, I think I will do this:
    -Set a 90 minute block, 5 days a week to study a chapter (or 2) for an objective.
    -After reading the chapter, watch videos of the parts I did not understand as well (I like ITProTV).
    -Try the technologies from the book both in Powershell and the GUI using a lab with Hyper-V server as the platform for virtual machines.
    -After 45 days (maybe less, depending on how comfortable I am), practice with a transcender practice exam, with looking up technet articles for technologies I don't understand as well.

    Thanks so much! What a great forum!
    Eric Chambers
  • GSXR750K2GSXR750K2 Member Posts: 325 ■■■■□□□□□□
    poolmanjim wrote: »
    2. Lab everything. If you can do it in the GUI, do it in powershell. If you can't do it in Powershell, figure out the command that does it. If that still doesn't exist, you need to spend more time on Technet. My advice here is to build your lab using as much Server Core as you can get away with. There are a few solutions that still require full windows but they are fewer and far between.

    I rescind my previous PowerShell advice...poolmanjim's advice is the one to listen to. :) I'm guilty of doing a lot of things the "easy" way and should work on my PowerShell admin skills more.
  • ericchambers1940ericchambers1940 Registered Users Posts: 3 ■□□□□□□□□□
    I think the PS commands/tools would be fun to work with. Definitely good advice.
  • motheomotheo Member Posts: 15 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Great detailed feedback guys
    Awesome!!
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