MTA 98-365: Windows Server Administration Fundamentals
Updated June 13
I just passed the certification exam! I took a whole extra week to prepare for it, and I passed with a comfortable margin. I wanted to add an item to the resources I used below. The MeasureUp practice exam can be purchased at a 10% discount if you register the real exam at the same time (you will be given the chance to buy it while checking out on the Pearson Vue website). This practice exam is by far the best resource I have found for the 98-365. Some of the questions are straight out of the actual exam, and even the look and feel of the questions imitates the exam lab environment. Despite the cost, I feel this item has done more than anything to solidify my comprehension of all the topics needed. The interface breaks down your performance by question as well as exam objective, allowing you to strategize. Best of all, each question has a detailed explanation that include references and links to articles for even more information, most often to detailed articles on Microsoft Docs.
If you are like me, starting from scratch and completely unfamiliar with the topic but want to get this certification, I cannot recommend this practice exam more highly.
On the advice of a friend of mine who recommended that I become familiar with Windows Server if I want to break into the IT world as a system administrator, I began studying for the MTA 98-365 a little over a week ago. Because I've been using Windows for all my life, I thought it would be no problem to briefly cover the basics and get the certification without ever having actually used it. I already had access to a Windows Server course from my ITPro.TV subscription, which is still a few days from ending. So I went through the course in a couple of days and took the exam on Saturday. I (barely) failed.
Obviously I underestimated the difficulty of this exam, but not by much. So I am taking a few more days to prepare for a retake. Microsoft provides feedback on your performance in the format of percentage scores in each of the 6 exam objectives (available here). I did worst on "Understanding Server Roles" and "Understanding Active Directory" (which is kind of important to Windows Server ).
- ITPro.TV courses
Unfortunately I've found that most of the materials available are of fairly poor quality. The ITPro.TV courses are kind of confused, and they do not methodically go through the material in a way that makes me feel confident I've learned anything.
I do not recommend the practice tests on Udemy, either. The questions seem only loosely based on the content and style of the exam, at least to what I recall. Worst of all, they do not explain the answers provided, and although it's hard to tell which came first, some of the questions are available on the Internet. Some of the questions also ask about deprecated command-line tools as well, like ImageX (taken over by DISM and PowerShell). Not recommended.
The book by Dauti has turned out to be a good reference, although it was obviously written by someone with imperfect English and only lightly proofread. I would say it is written in a dense, cerebral style that makes it really more appropriate to people who are already deeply familiar with the material and only looking for the certification to confirm their knowledge. It is not optimal for someone like me who is new.
What is missing, as in so many technical topics, is a comprehensive introduction to the logical distinctions and concepts used. For example, there is a distinction between roles, role services, and features, even though they are all understood as packages that are added to an instance of Windows Server to add or enhance functionality. This is not well explained in any source I have found.
If you are studying for this exam, you will also get tripped up over the various different means by which you can administer a Windows Server. Broadly speaking, you can either use the GUI or you can use the command-line. The command-line is further divided into the traditional command-line (using CMD.exe) and PowerShell, although these do not seem to be covered extensively in the MTA exam. The GUI-based tools, further, also come in several varieties: older tools implemented through Microsoft Management Console (MMC) technology appear under Administrative Tools, but there is also Server Manager which is (somewhat) newer, even though it appears to be deeply linked to the MMC snap-ins mentioned. Some of these snap-ins have very similar names (Active Directory Sites and Services, Active Directory Domains and Trusts, Active Directory Users and Computers). Obviously having hands-on experience would help in distinguishing these tools in the mind of the learner, but that does not appear to be a realistic possibility considering the cost involved.
I have a lot more to say, which is why I had to find an outlet for it on this forum. I plan to revisit this post soon, maybe after actually passing the exam in the next few days.