My Study Tips for 70-297 exam

I had been studying for the Microsoft MCSE 2003, “Designing a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Active Directory and Network Infrastructure,” and I’m pleased to say that I passed that and have achieved the coveted Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) certification. The 70-297 exam is a tough exam in some ways and yet in a way it is fairly straight-forward. Let me explain what at first sight seems like a paradox.

It’s a tough exam because you have a number of what they call “testlets” in the exam, which are case studies which contain a lot of information which you need to read and understand before then answering a series of questions, based upon the information presented.

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It’s made slightly harder, because once you have completed one testlet, you cannot return to that set of questions; that section is complete. You may have realised on other Microsoft exams that if you don’t know the answer to a question, sometimes you will find the answer when you read a later question because it just helps click some piece of loose knowledge into place in your mind. So you return to the question and answer it. This is not possible in the 70-297. Don’t worry too much, however, as it does warn you before you proceed to the next testlet: you shouldn’t get stranded on the next section before you intended.

The skills measured in the MCSE Exams are listed here. As you can see it is a lot of material, but if you’ve been studying for the MCSE and already taken and passed the core exams, you should find that all the material is knowledge you already have. It’s now a question of putting it together to make informed decisions, based on the information presented and Microsoft’s design recommendations for Active Directory.

And yet the exam can be seen as straight-forward in another way, which is simply that once you know the Microsoft recommendations for Active Directory design, the material presents requirements that can only be fulfilled with one answer, so the answer can only be the right answer, if that makes sense.

When I was taking the exam, there were a couple of questions that to me seemed almost too easy, because the requirement left only one possible answer. But be warned: some of them are quite involved and there are complex question types, such as “drag-and-drop” style questions, and on the whole, the questions are certainly not easy.

My study materials for this exam, as ever, was the Microsoft Press MCSE Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-297): Designing a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Active Directory and Network Infrastructure (ISBN: 9780735619708), which is a great resource and a good way to recap and revise all the material that I have learned on the MCSE road so far.

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