Passed 70-285

Design exams and I do not get along, which is weird because I do well on the design sections of Microsoft and other vendor exams. I hated 297 and I really wasn't looking forward to this exam, but I needed to squeeze it in before the second shot offer expired so I scheduled it for Friday. I failed the 284 exam by one question 2 weeks ago, and I was prepared to retake this one as well. I was pleasantly surprised when I finished the exam and received a passing score of 700 because, well, I took a rather unorthodox approach to this exam.

I answered the questions without reading the case studies.

The first time I took 297, I read the case studies before looking at the questions. After I failed it, I thought that perhaps the time wasted and the extraneous information included in the case studies affected my score. When I retook and passed the exam, I read the questions first on about half of the exam and I felt that helped me focus on the relevant information in the case studies. For this design exam, I planned on reading the questions first and then the case study. While I was reading the first group of questions, I thought I might as well answer them. I admit that the Darvocet I was on due to a root canal the day before might have influenced this decision, but answering the questions seemed like a good idea at the time. After I answered the questions, I would scan the case study to see if anything jumped out as relevant - otherwise I would go on to the next case. I only changed my answers a few times, usually after seeing a network diagram or a very specific requirement in the case study. As an added bonus, skipping all that reading meant I only spent about 90 minutes on this exam.

Study Materials used:
There is no MS Training guide for this exam. Not a big deal because I believe the study guide for 297 is only useful for keeping furniture level so I was fine looking for other material. I had just finished the Sybex 284 study guide, so I suppose I used that book first. I read sections from the Exchange 2003 Resource Kit on my weak areas from the 284 exam and I tried a Microsoft e-learning course on 70-285. Microsoft was (and evidently still is) offering a free e-leaning course (the trick to registering is inputting the discount code in lower case) and they offer a course for 285. Since it was free, I decided to try it and I think it really helped. In fact, learining the best practices in the course was what caused me to answer the questions without reading the case studies. If you know that Microsoft recommends implementing active/passive clusters and you get a question about clustering do you really need to read 5 pages of case study in order to choose the active/passive cluster answer?

Just so you understand, I am not a fan of barely passing exams. I am only happy with a score of 850 or above on a Microsoft exam, and (when I have the time to dedicate to studying) my goal is to score in the 900s. I want demonstrate my mastery of the subject matter not just prove that I meet the minimum requirements. That being said, I don't really care about my scores on the Exchange 2003 exams. I bought the books a month ago and I was rushing through them for two reasons: so I could take the exams while the Second Shot offer was still valid and to just finish them and move on to Exchange 2007. My company is looking at an Exchange 2007 implementation soon and I wanted to knock out the 2003 exams before I started researching 2007. I know that a pass is a pass and Microsoft considers a score of 700 the minimum competency level, but I do have my pride.


  • royalroyal Member Posts: 3,352 ■■■■□□□□□□
    Congrats. And don't feel bad about your score. I've never received a passing score under 900 for any MS exam but scored a 736 I believe for this exam.
    “For success, attitude is equally as important as ability.” - Harry F. Banks
  • undomielundomiel Member Posts: 2,818
    Good job! I haven't had any of the case study exams yet but I was planning out a similar strategy. I hate reading lots of information without knowing what sort of frame to be applying to it.
    Jumping on the IT blogging band wagon --
  • blargoeblargoe Member Posts: 4,174 ■■■■■■■■■□
    Congrats, great job.

    This was one of those exams, if I remember correctly, that I knew I failed right after I finished but the report said something in the 800's.
    IT guy since 12/00

    Recent: 11/2019 - RHCSA (RHEL 7); 2/2019 - Updated VCP to 6.5 (just a few days before VMware discontinued the re-cert policy...)
    Working on: RHCE/Ansible
    Future: Probably continued Red Hat Immersion, Possibly VCAP Design, or maybe a completely different path. Depends on job demands...
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