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The catch 22

by on Apr.08, 2013, under Microsoft

As I’ve been studying for the 70-410 Microsoft exam, I’ve come to the realization that I’m not ready, and I might not ever be.

Technology is a wondrous thing. It can take care of mundane, repetitive tasks, but only if you set it up and use it properly. It can also take over your world and control you, not quite Matrix style, but its getting there. Those of us that work in the IT field, be they developers, Network Admins, Penetration Testers, or any other number of fields, we do our best to keep up with the constant change of technology, not just for our own sake, but for societies. Someone has to know how to tame the technological beast. Certifications are a way of showing we understand the technologies out there, and have some degree of mastery over them.

Recently, there has been a challenge put forth called 90 Days to MCSA, through Microsoft learning. the goal is to get your MCSA be it in SQL, Server 2010, or Azure, in a 90 day period. I love learning (why else get into the IT field), and I love a good challenge, so I have embarked on the Server 2012 track. Over the last 10 days I have been studying for the Installation and Configuration exam (70-410) with a book from Microsoft press geared toward it. I also have a lab set up at my house for testing and doing the exercises. this should be simple you would think. Study the book, do the exercises, pass the exam. Theoretically, that is how it is supposed to go.

The problem with theories, is just that. They are theories, and real world can be indifferent to them. As I have almost finished the book (all 1600 pages of it) and done the exercises, I honestly do not feel much more ready to take the exam than I did before I started. Some of that could be because of the time frame from start to finish, which I will supplement with some other resources available to me. Some of it is that I don’t have access to any practice exams to gauge how I do on the various parts, and where my weaknesses are. Another portion is due to the face that while Server 2012 is new, and so are the exams, the books to study for it were released back in October, which means they were written while the software was still in Beta, and I have found issues with some of the exercises due to that fact (I won’t get into how many typos were in the book itself). This also leads me to a lack of confidence in taking the exam. When the official material is problematic, one has to wonder what they are actually in for.

The final issue I run into is that I like to know that I can pass the exam itself before I take it. I know others out there are like this also. We don’t want to go into that testing room and come out with a fail, especially with how much the exams cost. So we tend to push it off, time and time again, until there is new technology and new exams to take. In the mean time we get really good with the technology, but have no way of showing that little piece of paper to our employers, even though in the end it shouldn’t matter.

The question is though, when do you jump into the exam itself?

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1 Comment for this entry

  • Veronica Sopher

    Hi Michael,

    Great blog post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on your way to MCSA: Windows Server 2012. I wanted to let you (and your blog readers) know about a couple of resources that may help address some of the points in your post.

    Microsoft Learning is offering a free retake on 070 exams through May 31, 2013. To request an exam voucher with the free “Second Shot” attached, please visit .

    To support #90Days2MCSA participants (Windows Server 2012 track), TrainSignal is offering a library of their training videos for free. Videos for exams 412 and 411 are being added as I type this comment. :) You can request access to these videos via their blog post at .

    See you on Twitter!

    Veronica, aka @Shih_Wei

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