Best Practice Ezine #37 – MCP Exams Tips

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Best Practice Ezine #37 – MCP Exam Tips

Where as my 1970 university degree gains is stature every year, the value of my 1998 MCSE diminishes with each passing month. To be fair, unlike my university, Microsoft provide a mechanism to keep up-to-date. That mechanism is called upgrade to MCSE 2003. As you have probably guessed, I have recently taken more MCP exams so, I am your man to pass on revision tips should you be in the same exam boat.

Read the Question

Every teacher since Moses has been saying to their disciples, read the question. My twist on this old chestnut is: look out for keywords. The knack of answering MCP questions is to identify which words are important and which are background. For example, suppose that the question tells you that there is an XP client connecting to a Windows 2003 Active Directory.

My first question is did you read the word – XP? It is too easy to read the above as: ‘The client connected to Active Directory’. My second and most important point is, why did the examiner mention it was XP as opposed to Window 9x or NT 4.0? As you read the exam scenario, think ahead to the answers. The reason the examiner mentioned XP is that they are going to test you on the latest features of Windows 2003, and some of the wrong answers will apply to Windows 98 clients. Whereas the correct answer will only apply to XP clients.

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Specific Advice

Check to see whether the exam is regular or adaptive. With regular exams you can go back and review your answers. The nature of adaptive exams is the next question depends on whether you get a question right or wrong, so there is no going back. Also, find out how many questions to expect. Be aware, there is a tendency at the moment to have extra beta questions in your exam.

With multiple choice answers, read carefully to discover if you need two answer which COMBINE to make one solution. Or alternatively, whether each answer represents a complete solution. In other words be clear if the questions asks for two parts making one solution, or if there are two ways of solving the problem.

An example of the two part question is, ‘How would you create a mirror set? Answers: a) Convert to Dynamic disk, b) Configure Raid 1. An example of the second type with two separate methods is, Question: ‘How would you configure name resolution, give two services’. Answers: a) WINS and b) DNS.

Where you see the phrase, ‘Minimal Administrative Effort’ this is exam speak for there are two answers, but one is long-winded while the other is neat, quick and elegant. So narrow down the answers two which are really saying the same thing, then choose the quicker, faster, or more efficient alternative.

Book the Exam

Have you noticed that much of this advice is simple common sense? And of all my tips ‘Book the Exam’ has to be the easiest one to complete. However, it amazes me how many of the people that I try and help fall down on this simple task. So, pick up that phone, dial that VUE number. Or visit the Prometric web site.

Get practice Questions

In addition to taking 22 MCP’s exams myself, I have helped over 100 candidates to prepare for Microsoft exams. Everyone uses practice questions. Now I do declare an interest and freely say that I sell practice exam questions. If you like my philosophy of getting you started, then these are the test questions for you.

My final reason for charging a modest $4.95 is not just to make money, but to get you to regard practice questions as valuable resources. Too many people rush through practice questions, make wild guesses and get the question wrong. It all ends in tears, they neither learn about exam technique, nor the topic in hand.

With all the practice questions that you beg, borrow or buy from me, take your time. There is no rush. Better to mull over the question for 2/3 minutes, than to race through 5 questions and get into sloppy reading habits. Regard each exam question as a murder mystery, where your job is to be Hercule Poiret or Lieutenant Columbo and unearth clues as to who killed the server. Was it :

Mr A with a network card

Ms B with memory chip

Psycho C with a sledge hammer

Dr D with a hard drive

Answer : Psycho C with a sledge hammer!

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