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MCSE Frequently Asked Questions

Q.Why get certified?

Certification offers vendors and employers a baseline to judge your skills. Experience is important, but it's not always a reliable measure of expertise. (I once heard a 26 year old administrator claim he has 20 years of experience - sorry Stuart, playing with your Teddy Rukspin toy and working the register at Burger King doesn't count). Although certification isn't a foolproof benchmark either, it assures an employer that you at least have met some sort of standard and have proved your knowledge via a written test. Certification can help set you apart from other candidates with the same level of experience, it can open doors for you if you don't have the experience, and it can help you negotiate a higher salary.

Q.What are the certification levels?

Microsoft offers a number of certification levels, but in this FAQ we'll only focus on those that apply to administrators. The basic level of certification is Microsoft Certified Professional or MCP. You acquire this level when you pass one current Microsoft certification exam. (Except for exam 70-058: Networking Essentials since it isn't a product exam). The next level up is the MCSA or Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator. MCSA candidates are required to pass three core operating system exams (one of the which must be exam 70-218) and one elective exam, and is designed to test your ability to manage and troubleshoot a Windows 2000 network. The highest level of certification is the MCSE or Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, which not only tests your ability to manage networks, but design and implement them as well. To achieve your MCSE certification, you must pass 7 exams. 5 core required operating system exams and 2 elective exams

Q.How much does it cost to finish the MCSE certification process?

Well the exams alone will cost you $875.00, assuming you pass each one. Books typically cost about $30 - $60 each, but some publishers offer MCSE Training bundles at a discount. If this is all you need to study, you can get your MCSE for less than $1,500.00 That's about the minimum expense required. Exam prep software could run $50.00 - $150.00 per exam depending on which software you use. If you take classes as part of your training, your costs could easily jump to over $10,000.00 And regardless of which training method you use, you should have access to a computer lab so you can actually get some experience using Windows 2000

Q.How much time should I spend studying for each exam?

That depends on your level of experience with Windows 2000, or its predecessor Windows NT 4.0 We've seen experienced administrators complete one exam a week. Four to six weeks per exam is a more reasonable pace for most people. This gives you 2 -3 weeks to read the exam study guide or Microsoft Official curriculum and complete the exercises, and a few weeks to practice with review questions and test prep software.

Q.What is a paper MCSE?

A paper MCSE is someone who managed to earn their certification, but doesn't actually have the real world skills that should go with their certification. (Yes, it happens) Typically, these people either cheated on their exams outright, used Braindumps as their sole study aid (which is still cheating), or purchased the exam questions outright from the web. (which again is cheating). A few paper MCSE's are just inexperienced "book smart" folks who are good at self study and never set up a lab. Although they didn't cheat, they still don't know what they're doing. Every paper MCSE cheapens the value of the certification for those who worked for it. Don't fall into the temptation to cheat on your exams. People will notice when you get into the field..

Q.What kind of questions are on the exam?

Although most of the questions on the exam are multiple choice, don't let that fool you into thinking they'll be easy. Many of the questions ask for the "best" answer from several close responses. Others present an implementation scenario, requirements, and a proposed solution and asks if the solution meets all of the requirements or combinations of the primary and secondary requirements. There are also a few interactive questions that require you to drag and drop components into a network diagram, or place a set of actions in the correct order. If you've never worked with Windows 2000 before, these questions are designed to weed you out.

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