MCSA Server 2008 training prices and materials (UK based)

vlad06vlad06 Member Posts: 31 ■□□□□□□□□□
Hey gents,

Only just discovered this place and I really wish I had discovered it sooner to be honest. I'm doing a CCNA as a part of my degree and I decided to do some extra curricular work and go for MCSA Windows Server 2008, as it will supplement my technical skills and CV and improve overall employability.

Please, if someone can shed light on some stuff for me; Ive decided to go with an IT training company who is charging around £800.00 ($1218 USD) for the training materials, which are delivered online through slides as well as coming in printable format. I get access to a few mock papers and the price includes the exams as well as one re-sit per exam if I fail.

The training materials cover exams 640, 642 & 646. I get no books, which I dislike because I prefer to learn from books and I also get access to live labs to remotely control servers but since I have signed up they have been awfully quiet and after 3 months of payment I haven't heard anything from them, not even a simple check up to see how I am doing or if I need to use the labs. I haven't had much time to get started and now that I am about to sit down and do it, I am having second thoughts.

My question is: Is it worth the price? Or am I better getting the books and reading them alongside YouTube videos/VMWARE etc?

The pros in this deal are obviously the exams being included as well as mocks and re-sits but the exams don't cost much I've heard and I'm sure that mock exams are available on the web (if so please link me).

Also, I haven't previously done any Microsoft training or qualifications, will I find MCSA a tough starting point? I've never worked with Windows Server. I'm confident that even though it's new to me, I'll pick it up quickly as long as the training materials are good. I greatly appreciate any advice on this matter.

One last thing, I heard VMWARE can be used to virtualise server 2008 for practice and implementation of what is being learned, is that correct?

Thanks a lot, look forward to your replies.


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    ptilsenptilsen Member Posts: 2,835 ■■■■■■■■■■
    MCITP Server Administrator Self-Paced Training Kit 2nd Edition from MS Press (the official books): ~$75 USD
    Transcender Server Administrator package (includes pass guarantee): $~370 USD
    Exam cost total: $~500 USD
    Labs on your existing PC: $0 (yes, you can use Vmware Workstation, but also Virtual PC, Virtual Box, and others)
    Youtube videos, etc: $0

    Total: ~$950 USD

    The cost isn't totally unreasonable, but compared with the approach above, it seems overpriced. It may just be UK difference, as I'm only looking at US prices of the path I'd take if I were starting MCSA 2008 from scratch.

    As far as just starting MCSA 2008 with no professional experience or point of reference, it could be tough. If you've already got a fairly good handle on Windows itself and you've studied CCNA material a bit, I think it is very doable.
    Working B.S., Computer Science
    Complete: 55/120 credits SPAN 201, LIT 100, ETHS 200, AP Lang, MATH 120, WRIT 231, ICS 140, MATH 215, ECON 202, ECON 201, ICS 141, MATH 210, LING 111, ICS 240
    In progress: CLEP US GOV,
    Next up: MATH 211, ECON 352, ICS 340
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    vlad06vlad06 Member Posts: 31 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Ptilsen thanks for the swift reply.

    I've never heard of Transcender until you mentioned it but it does look good, I have located it - http://www.transcender.com/practice-exam/microsoft/server-admin-bundle-with-70-640.kap

    Is it a must for new starters, as in, do you recommend me getting the Transcender package?
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    ptilsenptilsen Member Posts: 2,835 ■■■■■■■■■■
    I don't think any particular approach is a "must." I used Transcenders for three of my MS exams, and I was fairly pleased with the content. There are other vendors out there. What I generally do recommend is buying practice tests. There are only so many free questions on the Internet, and a good set of practice questions can both teach you more and let you know if you're ready for the real deal.

    In short, "yes," I would recommend it, but shop around. I'm sure others will drop some opinions here. Transcenders may or may not be the best practice source or the best value. I used it because an employer purchased it. I have used Preplogic in the past for my Comptia exams and I was content with that material as well.
    Working B.S., Computer Science
    Complete: 55/120 credits SPAN 201, LIT 100, ETHS 200, AP Lang, MATH 120, WRIT 231, ICS 140, MATH 215, ECON 202, ECON 201, ICS 141, MATH 210, LING 111, ICS 240
    In progress: CLEP US GOV,
    Next up: MATH 211, ECON 352, ICS 340
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    vlad06vlad06 Member Posts: 31 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Great, I'll have a little search and I'll wait for others to drop some advice too.

    I might pack this training course in and just do it out of the books and practice exams.
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    MrSharpMrSharp Member Posts: 45 ■■■□□□□□□□
    vlad06, welcome to the forums.

    In terms of exam costs...
    individual exams are £99 each if paying for them direct.
    I think you can buy exam vouchers which reduces the cost of each exam to £89.
    Also, MS are doing a second-shot offer at the moment (if you fail an exam you can do the retake for free) - this is valid for all exams until 31 May 2013
    see Retake Microsoft Certification Exam for Free | Microsoft Learning
    It just so happens that they are offering a certification exam pack for the MCSA 2008 (which includes the exam and retake for 70-640, 70-642 and 70-646) which can be purchased until 31 may 2013, but u have until 31 dec 2013 to use to take the exams/retake.
    The cost for this is £252.45
    So, assuming you will sit all your MCSA 2008 exams by the end of this year, the training materials are costing you up to £547.55

    Seconding ptilsen's recommendation of Transcender...
    I've found the practice exam questions very similar in depth and style to the ones you get asked in the actual MS exams.
    What are the mock papers like with your training provider?

    It used to be that transcender exam software and test was included with a purchse of a Trainsignal course, however recently Trainsignal changed to an online model.
    Online IT Training | TrainSignal
    I am signed up to them currently. It is $50 a month and u get online access to all of their courses and what appears to be the Transcender practice exam questions too. Unfortunately you don't get the full functionality of transcender exam software online.

    CBT Nuggets CBT Nuggets
    have also switched to an online model and are offering transcender practice exams in addtion to Kaplan Self-test.
    The cost there is $100 a month.
    Not subscribed myself and wonder if you get the full functionality of the transcender exam s/w with their offering.

    Yes you can definitely use VMware to virtualise windows 2008.
    There are a few forum threads about this and plenty of guides on the web.

    Got a decent computer to run your VM's?
    You can get vmplayer for free, and evaluation copy of windows 2008 is good for 180 days.
    The experience gained from setting up your own lab will be beneficial for ur studies too.
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    vlad06vlad06 Member Posts: 31 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks MrSharp

    I haven't had a chance to check the mock exams out but I'm assuming that they are decent ones, I will request one ASAP.

    I've spoken to them recently and they have been kind enough to agree to send me the MCITP Server Admin book kit so I am pleased with that.

    I have had a look at the live labs and I get remote access to their Windows 2008 Server to configure and play with as I please, would you say is worth it or would using VMWARE Player bring me the same results?
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    MrSharpMrSharp Member Posts: 45 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Will be hard to judge the mock exams without actual experience of the exam itself.
    For example my opinion of Transcender practice exams is from using them successfully in the past for exam prep.
    In comparison to the questions in the MS press books I've used, they certainly help a lot more in preparing you for the exams, being a lot more indepth and asking the questions "MS-style".

    However saying that in one of my most recent exams, the 70-646, the Transcender practice exams didn't prepare me as well as I had hoped - as they didn't have any testlets and the format of the actual exam was different.

    In regards to labs.
    Given a decent computer, you can certainly get the same results from building your own lab and probably learn more in the process.
    Also there are some free labs from MS Windows Server which take you through various modules and new features, and you get a downloadable manual.

    What is the arrangement with your training company?
    It sounds like you have already paid for everything? If so, is there much to be gained from deliberating over whether it was the right choice to purchase their training package?
    If not then just forget about it and focus on just making the most of the resources you have available to you.
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    vlad06vlad06 Member Posts: 31 ■□□□□□□□□□
    I haven't paid upfront, I am doing monthly installments and now I don't know what do.

    When you say building my own lab, how easy is this?
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    MrSharpMrSharp Member Posts: 45 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Is pretty straightforward. there are plenty of guides around
    All you really need is an iso of windows 2008 (you can download evaluation copy) and vmplayer (free).

    here is an example of one such guide...
    [TUTORIAL] Windows 2008 testing environment using Vmware Player part 1 - inVURTED.com | inVURTED.com

    Alternative you can just install windows 2008 r2 on your computer and configure it using the hyper-v role (note your CPU will need the VT extensions) to run VM's, which is what I did. Has the additonal benefit of giving you Hyper-V hands on.
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    vlad06vlad06 Member Posts: 31 ■□□□□□□□□□
    How much of a drain on competer spec is setting up a virtual windows server machine? I'm trying to weigh up the pros and cons of using their dedicated server and just doing it virtually on my own PC.

    I'm new to all this so please forgive my ignorance.
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    MrSharpMrSharp Member Posts: 45 ■■■□□□□□□□
    vlad06, is hard to say - as it's dependent on many factors
    e.g. your machine spec, how you configure the VM

    best thing to do would probably be to download vmplayer and give it a go.
    try out the free virtual labs mentioned previously too...
    Windows Server
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