Guy’s Question Techniques
With Prometric and VUE exams you used to have 15 minutes ‘Warming up’ time. During this period you get 15 Questions about the Solar System, just to get a feel of the mouse and understand the range of styles used in the questions. Whilst the Solar System button is now greyed out, I still spend 5 minutes checking out the monitor, mouse and drawing out my grid, see below.
What I do before I read the first question is create a grid like this:
Once the exam starts I use the grid to help me narrow down the answers and to ensure that I read all the questions.
Here is my code, but best would be to devise your own.
x = no chance ? = maybe
√ = I think so – = I haven’t a clue
In truth, I fine tuning this grid technique and only use it for difficult questions, I admit that if I used this on every question I would run out of time. However, when I am revising, time is not a problem, so because good questions are hard to find, by using my grid it makes me read every option and not rush to see if the answer is correct.
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A variation of Guy’s grid is draw a diagram. Now I am a great doodler, and I like paper and pencil to scribble notes in the exam. In particular, I draw diagrams of networks, servers, shares to try and visualise what is going on in the question scenario.
Many questions can be whittled down to just two answers, the real one and a ‘distracter’. Question writers like to include an answer which is very close, but with a fatal flaw. Our job is to narrow down the full list or 5 answers to just 2.
Some people, usually those who fail, say that you have to answer questions ‘The Microsoft way’, I honestly believe that is not true. Where I would agree, is that some question require an answer which shows off the latest Windows 2003 features in a good light.
For example, which command would you use in XP to refresh group policies?
You narrow down the answers to a) gpupdate or b) secedit. Well, once you know that gpupdate is a new command to refresh the policy and that secedit is yesterday’s technology, then you are nearly home and dry. I say nearly home because you should still check for a confirmatory clue. If the choice is gpupdate /force or secedit /force, you may happen to know that secedit does not have the /force switch, so that answer must be wrong.
Variation: Favour answers which use neat technical or Microsoft terms.
This is not a fool proof technique, but correct answers tend to sound like technical speak, where as incorrect answers are tentative, vague.
Technical Terms: ‘Filtering Policies’. ‘Failover Configuration’
Vague terms: ‘Add the everyone Permission’. ‘Both nodes Simultaneously’
The hidden clue with ‘….using minimal administrative effort’, or similar phrases is that there may be two correct answers. For example:
Q) How would you install Windows 2003 on 20 member servers with minimal effort.
a) Use SUS
b) Use an Answer file, plus CD
c) Run Winnt and follow the prompts.
d) Use WUS
e) Run Setup and follow the instructions.
Knowing that the answers contains two ways of installing Windows 2003, is of help to narrow it down to b) and c). Now you choose the method which is of ‘Minimal Administrative Effort’. Best answer is b)
Variation: Minimum Permissions
Clue: is there any permission other than administrator that will do the job?
Variation: Minimise Costs
‘ Minimise Costs ‘, or ‘ no money for hardware ‘, is variation on the Minimal Administrative effort. Here is one approach that I recommend. Find the most expensive explanation, then look for an alternative answer which provides a costs nothing solution. For example
Q) You need to provide extra capacity for clients connecting to your IIS servers. You need to provide fault tolerance buy minimise costs.
a) Cluster – active / active
b) Cluster – active / passive
c) Round Robin DNS
d) Network Load Balancing.
Well clustering would be great, however that solution would cost. So ask yourself, Is there a cost little solution? Why yes, Network Load Balancing.
Variation: As Quickly as Possible
Again to emphasise that this phrase means that there are two ‘correct’ answers, it’s just that one will take longer than the other. This knowledge about the question, helps us to seek out two similar answers, then, you get a bulb light-up in your brain, and it’s obvious which answer is:
Variation: Without aversely affecting..
Perhaps you are ahead of me now? What we are looking for is one method that WILL do what the question says, BUT aversely affect the scenario. Naturally we dismiss this answer, yet search for a similar answer that provides a more elegant, less disruptive solution.
An example from a long question on DNS. The questions asks in a nutshell, how to configure without aversely affecting internet access
a) Configure Root Hints.
b) Conditional Forwarding.
Answer b) Because changing the Root Hints would disrupt internet access.
Many of us are not used to reading exam questions. The problem is that our normal reading is too good. Normally we just want a particular fact. We are programmed to reading quickly, just scanning for specific information. Whereas, in the exam we must treat the question like treasure map – full full of cryptic clues. My point is that when we read exam questions, we must abandon normal ‘Speed Reading Practice’ and re-lean forgotten, slow, careful, reading skills. Scanning for one word, or just skimming for an interesting tit-bit, is counter productive when it comes to exam questions.
The best way to un-earth the answer is by treating the question like an exhibit from a ‘who dunit’ murder investigation. There is no short cut. What you must do is trawl every line for keywords. For example, is the partition FAT or is it NTFS; was that Backup incremental or differential.
If the answer still is not clear, then read the question for a third time, only ask, ‘what would I do to solve this problem if there were no answers?’ Then check your answer against the actual list.
Danger. You get lulled into the ‘Mickey Mouse’ company names and miss the crucial clues. This is particularly the case where the practice company always use the same fictitious names. For Example:
Q1) ABC Company has a Windows 2003 domain in Boston.
Q2) ABC has two Windows 2003 domains in America.
Q3) ABC has a Windows Domain in Chicago.
Then you are asleep when Q4) Says
ABC has a Windows 2003 domain in Redmond with 3 domain controllers and an NT 4.0 domain controller in Ohio.
If you do not read the question carefully, then you could miss the NT 4.0 domain which will be vital in answering a scenario about Universal and Global groups.
New: AlsoPay attention to the Check-box questions, do they say:
1) Each Part of the answer presents part of the solution. Choose Two.
2) Each part of the answer presents a complete solution. Choose Two.
In particular, if you do not read this second variation properly, then it can drive you mad trying to find two parts to make a complete solution, when you should be looking for two distinct answers.
Give two methods for name resolution, each part presents a complete solution
Answers a) and c)
Try and spot something in the answer that is definitely false. Often the answer comprises 2 or 3 sentences, one word may be a lie, therefore, if spot a lie then you can eliminate that answer. For example
Q) How would you enter a machine’s IP address in DNS, without rebooting the client?
a) Go the the command prompt and type: Ipconfig /renew
b) Go the the command prompt and type: Ipconfig /registerdns
c) Go the the command prompt and type: Ipconfig /flushdns
d) Open a ‘Dos Box’ and type: Ipconfig /all
Well if you happen to remember that the /renew switch is used with DHCP then you can rule out a). Best answer b)
Re-read the question.
O.K, you are just about to finalize your answer. If you check back through the question, then something magical will happen. Either you will say, yes, yes, this makes sense. Or you will say ah ha, something wrong there. For example, you went for a domain answer with Kerberos security, and the perishing question says the users are in a workgroup. Back to the drawing board. Oh yes there is the perfect answer – certificates.
Beware: –Shooting yourself in the foot.
Strike a balance between going over your answers to spot a mistake, and talking yourself out of a correct answer. What I would recommend is looking over the answers and make sure that when the question asked for two answers that you did not merely check one box.
However, if two answers are genuinely 50: 50 always go with your first reaction. Your gut instinct was probably right, do not change it just for the sake of changing. Have courage of your convictions, do not second guess yourself.
Another trap is where you let superstition or dubious logic play a part. Never answer D, just because there haven’t been many Ds lately; it does not work like that, there is no law which says that 20 answers must have 4As, 4Bs, 4Cs and 4Ds.