Hello! I'd like to introduce myself and ask a question if I may...

Ifound404Ifound404 Member Posts: 5 ■□□□□□□□□□
Hi Everyone! I hope to be a regular visitor to these forums over the coming year(s). I have a rather ambitious goal to have my MSCA completed this year so will need some help regarding studying/exam questions :D

Currently, I'm studying for 70-410 (leading to MCSA: Server 2012) and have been for quite some time. Recently I decided to rip the band aid off so to speak and book the exam (and aim to keep rolling on once this one has finished). It's about two weeks away and I feel like I'll be pretty prepared by then (though I am very aware of just how difficult the exam is), however I'd like to ask a question regarding future exam study.

I've seen a lot of mention towards reading study books, which I personally haven't done for 70-410 - I have however my own lab, have seen all CBT Nuggets videos and written about 40 pages of notes based on the videos (it helps me understand it better), work in IT already with exposure to technologies features (mainly level 1/2/bit of 3, with moderate experience), and have a good understanding of Server 2012. One of my questions is: When reading the study books, do you prefer to take notes as you go, or prefer to read the whole thing and take in the important information without notes, or both? It's taken me quite a while to type my notes for CBT Nuggets, it'd be quite difficult to do it for a whole book. But if I have to then I will :D

Another question is in relation to the amount of PowerShell in the exam. I finished my first practice exam from MeasureUp today, and got around 50%. A lot of questions I noticed were PowerShell based. Whilst I have a good understanding of it, does anyone have any links to common Powershell cmdlets one would expect to be tested on in the exam? I'm aware of the NDA so not looking for brain ****, but just a website some examples.



  • powerfoolpowerfool Member Posts: 1,663 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Welcome to the forum, first of all; I hope it is helpful to you.

    In regards to your plan, it is fully doable, but you have to remain discipline. Many tech schools have a year long MCSE program, but folks have the advantage of going through a program that eliminates some of the discipline requirement. Effectively doing self-study puts it all on you. My first MCSE, back on Windows 2000 took me about 8 months to do with seven exams... and while I was going through a tech school, it was a waste because we treated it like a LAN-party every weekend and it ended up being self-study. After about a month and a half, I decided to book my first exam and I booked another each sequential month. So, for you and the MCSA, you have three exams. If you want to complete it within a year and you are comfortable with that schedule, book yourself an exam every three months and that gives you a spare three months in the event that things don't go your way.

    I definitely follows Parkinson's Law: work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion

    So, if you give yourself four months to study, it will take you four months to study... if you give yourself three months, it will take three months.

    In regards to CBT Nuggets, if you are looking at the R2 material, I am actually a bit more impressed with it than I have been their material for Exchange and Lync. While not perfect, I don't think it's bad. That being said, you definitely need to supplement it. I would recommend just getting one of the all-in-one books. I am presently cramming with the Sybex MCSA Complete Study Guide for Windows Server 2012 R2. I like it... but that is just my opinion. I also have 17 years of experience working with Windows Server and this will be my 4th "MCSE" generation (I am counting 2K8 in there).

    In regards to study habits, they change. Some of it is based on my mood, some of it my response to the materials. When I was doing my first MCSE, I just read the book straight through on the weekend before the exam and took it on the following Monday or Tuesday (It was that Parkinson's Law... I only needed the one weekend to study, but I spaced it a month in between). But, those were the days when my attention span was rock solid and I was super hungry to get the cert (a few years of experience, but no credentials to speak of). I also had been working with the product day in and day out. Now, I find myself reading when I can, bouncing to CBT Nuggets when I need a change of pace, etc. It just depends. I rarely take notes... but if I do, I never look at them... it is more about the process of note taking that helps me commit the information.

    PowerShell, is definitely a must. This is where a good book will help, because it will have it listed. CBT Nuggets also walks you through many commands, so just jot down which ones you see and hit TechNet. I find that the commands for Windows Server seem to be a little loose with their "Verb" naming standards; I come from the perspective of someone deeply involved in Exchange and I think that has its advantages (Exchange has been PowerShell-centric for four major versions now) and its disadvantage (its commands are laid out very well and tend to follow the naming standards very well, making my expectations of the other products unrealistic).
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  • poolmanjimpoolmanjim Member Posts: 285 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Your timeline is very reasonable. I started studying hard for my MCSA in March of 2015. Passed the 70-410 in May. Passed the 70-411 in September and I'm one fail into the 70-412 with a retake coming up this week. So in my opinion, a year to get an MCSA is reasonable if you're dedicated and focused.

    Note taking is a challenge, and one that I have struggled with through my exam experience. Initially, I went with a read it once, then read it again and take notes approach. I also treated the notes like notes and there wasn't a lot of structure. It worked and I passed the 410 without trouble. When I got to the 411, however, that approach didn't work and I failed the first time. I then refocused my efforts and went with an objective based note taking where I would build questions trying to confuse myself to force me to remember how stuff worked. That did me a lot of good and I passed the second time. Needless to say, I continued with that framework for the 412 and failed the first shot. So far it has seemed like every test, for me, needed a different style of study to be passable. The best advice I can give you is do whatever helps you retain the information. If you feel like note taking is helping, then keep doing it.

    Powershell is a huge part of Microsoft tests. I have seen posts where people have said they got one or two powershell questions and in my experience I had about 40-50% of the questions had some kind of powershell on the screen for one of my tests. It is important. The sad fact is that as you get into the 411 and 412 there is such a crazy number of cmdlets for each item, it is impossible to memorize them all and all their switches. What has worked best for me in the Powershell scope is to lab it. If I can do something in a GUI and it is listed as part of an objective (or could fit into the requirements of an objective), I will try to figure out how to do it without a GUI. Another suggestion is to find the TechNet pages for the Powershell items you are playing with. Look at the examples at the bottom. I can't really say why...

    I wish you the best. Study hard, lab even harder, and for the love of all that is holy, use practice tests right. Don't memorize the questions and answers, learn what the questions are asking and learn why the answers are right or wrong.
    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
  • Ifound404Ifound404 Member Posts: 5 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks all for replying, sorry i've been pretty busy at work and hadn't had a lot of time to check.

    Parkinson's Law is very true, i've been keeping that in mind recently to avoid procrastinating doing various tasks and it's definitely got me more motivated to just "get it done now". I also appreciate the other bits of advice mentioned here, so thank you, will keep you all updated.

    Also thanks kengjames, I noticed a few topic's down that this was posted, and is a fabulous source. I've shared it around at work as well for anyone looking for a quick reference on Powershell commands.
  • bohackbohack Member Posts: 114
    Kengjames that is a really great resource!

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  • Ifound404Ifound404 Member Posts: 5 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Update on my results:...PASSED!

    Just. My score was 700. Pass mark was 700. Phew.

    Lot of questions in there I didn't expect. Usual suspects that were hard: IPV6, Hyper-V, Powershell.

    Bring on 411 in a few months! I'm going to take a month off and do some more study of Powershell for work, as i'm needing that more and more and haven't had time to squeeze in a solid learning time for it with my 410 study.
  • gncsmithgncsmith Member Posts: 459 ■■■□□□□□□□
    Congrats! Glad to hear you passed.

    What will you be using for PowerShell? Perhaps In a month of lunches?
  • Ifound404Ifound404 Member Posts: 5 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Looking around, I think a month of lunches may be a great source. Have been looking around for some reviews on it though/peoples experiences with it, but seems like a good place to start.
  • poolmanjimpoolmanjim Member Posts: 285 ■■■□□□□□□□
    I'm not any Powershell expert but what really helped me get better at it was just trying to write stuff to do monitoring. It may be a little redundant if you have good monitoring solutions in place but either way you can learn a lot about objects and the different cmdlets by trying to write a monitoring tool that emails a report.
    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
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