Read an Excerpt
Microsoft Certification Exams
Exam taking is not something that most people anticipate eagerly, no matter how well-prepared they are. In most cases, familiarity helps ameliorate test anxiety. In plain English, this means you probably won't be as nervous when you take your fourth or fifth Microsoft certification exam as you will be when you take your first one.
Whether it's your first exam or your tenth, understanding the details of exam taking (how much time to spend on questions, the setting you'll be in, and so on) and the exam software will help you concentrate on the material rather than on the environment. Likewise, mastering a few basic exam-taking skills should help you recognizeand perhaps even outfoxsome of the tricks and gotchas you're bound to find in some of the exam questions.
This chapter explains the exam environment and software, and describes some proven exam-taking strategies that you should be able to use to your advantage. This information has been compiled from the 30-plus Microsoft certification exams that the authors have taken themselves. The authors have also drawn on the advice of friends and colleagues, some of whom have taken more than 30 tests each.
The Exam Situation
When you arrive at the Sylvan Prometric Testing Center where you scheduled your exam, you'll need to sign in with an exam coordinator. He or she will ask you to produce two forms of identification, one of which must be a photo ID. Once you've signed in and your time slot arrives, you'll be asked to deposit any books, bags, or other items you brought with you, and you'll be escorted into a closed room. Typically, that room will be furnished with anywhere from one to half a dozen computers, and each workstation will be separated from the others by dividers designed to keep you from seeing what's happening on someone else's computer.
You'll be furnished with a pen or pencil and a blank sheet of paper or, in some cases, an erasable plastic sheet and an erasable felt-tip pen. You're allowed to write down any information you want on both sides of this sheet. You should memorize as much of the material that appears on The Cram Sheet (inside the front cover of this book) as you can and then write that information down on the blank sheet as soon as you are seated in front of the computer. You can refer to that piece of paper any time you like during the test, but you'll have to surrender the sheet when you leave the room.
Most test rooms feature a wall with a large picture window. This permits the exam coordinator to monitor the room, to prevent exam takers from talking to one another, and to observe anything out of the ordinary that might go on. The exam coordinator will have preloaded the Microsoft certification exam you've signed up forfor this book, that's Exam 70-064and you'll be permitted to start as soon as you're seated in front of the computer.
All Microsoft certification exams allow a certain maximum amount of time to complete your work (this time is indicated on the exam by an onscreen counter/clock so you can check the time remaining whenever you like). Exam 70-064 consists of 49 questions. You're permitted to take up to 90 minutes to complete the exam.
All Microsoft certification exams are computer-generated and use a multiple-choice format. Although this may sound quite simple, the questions are constructed not only to check your mastery of basic facts and figures about Windows 95; they also require you to evaluate one or more sets of circumstances or requirements. Often, you'll be asked to give more than one answer to a question; likewise, you may be asked to select the best or most effective solution to a problem from a range of choices, all of which are technically correct. Taking the exam is quite an adventure, and it involves real thinking, but this book will show you what to expect and how to deal with the problems, puzzles, and predicaments you're likely to find on the exam.
Exam Layout And Design
The following shows a typical exam question. This multiple-choice question requires that you select a single correct answer.
What is the name of the Windows 95 utility that enables you to recover deleted files?
mc. Recycle Bin
The Recycle Bin is the deleted-file-recovery utility of Windows 95. Therefore, answer c is correct. Undelete is the process used to recover deleted files, not the specific utility. Therefore, answer a is incorrect. The Trash is a utility found on Macintosh computers. Therefore, answer b is incorrect. Undo is a command used in many applications to repeal the last change made to a document. Therefore, answer d is incorrect.
This sample question corresponds closely to the type you'll see on the Microsoft certification exams. To select the correct answer, position the cursor over the radio button next to answer c and click the mouse. The only difference on the exam is that questions are not followed by the answer key.
Let's examine a question that requires choosing multiple answers. This type of question provides checkboxes rather than radio buttons for marking all appropriate selections.
Which of the following are true for VFAT? [Check all correct answers]
qa. Allows file names up to 255 characters long
qb. Maximum volume size of 4 GB
qc. Limited to 8.3 file names
qd. Supports file-level security
qe. Maximum of 512 root directory entries
VFAT supports 255-character file names, has a maximum volume size of 4 GB, and has a maximum of 512 root directory entries. Therefore, answers a, b, and e are correct. FAT, not VFAT, is limited to 8.3. Therefore, answer c is incorrect. VFAT does not support file-level security. Therefore, answer d is incorrect.
This type of question requires more than one answer. As far as the authors can tell (Microsoft won't comment), such questions are scored as wrong unless you choose all of the required selections. In other words, a partially correct answer does not result in partial credit when the test is scored. For Question 2, you'd have to check the boxes next to items a, b, and e to obtain credit for a correct answer.
Although these two basic types of questions can appear in many forms, they constitute the foundation on which all of the Microsoft certification exam questions rest. More complex questions may include so-called exhibits, which are usually screen shots of a Windows 95 utility. For some of these questions, you'll be asked to make a selection by clicking a checkbox or radio button on the screenshot itself; for others, you'll be expected to use the information displayed therein to guide your answer to the question. Familiarity with the underlying utility is the key to the correct answer(s).
Other questions involving exhibits may use charts or network diagrams to help document a workplace scenario that you'll be asked to troubleshoot or configure. Careful attention to such exhibits is the key to success. Be prepared to toggle frequently between the picture and the question as you work.
Using Microsoft's Exam Software Effectively
A well-known principle when taking exams is to first read over the entire exam from start to finish while answering only those questions that you feel absolutely sure of. On subsequent passes, you can dive deeper into more complex questions, knowing how many such questions you have to deal with.
Fortunately, Microsoft exam software makes this approach easy to implement. At the top-left of each question is a checkbox that permits you to mark that question for a later visit. (Marking questions makes review easier, but you can return to any question if you are willing to click the Forward and Back buttons repeatedly.) As you read each question, if you answer only those you're sure of and mark for review those that you're not sure of, you can keep working through a decreasing list of questions as you answer the trickier ones in order.
There's at least one potential benefit to reading the exam over completely before answering the trickier questions: Sometimes, you find information in later questions that sheds more light on earlier ones. Other times, information you read in later questions may jog your memory about Windows 95 facts, figures, or behavior that will also help with earlier questions. Either way, you'll come out ahead if you defer those questions about which you're not absolutely sure.
Keep working on the questions until you are absolutely sure of all your answers or until you know you'll run out of time. If questions are still unanswered, you'll want to zip through them and guess. Not answering a question guarantees you won't receive credit for it, and a guess has at least a chance of being correct. This strategy works only because Microsoft doesn't penalize for incorrect answers (i.e., it treats an incorrect answer and no answer as equally wrong).
At the very end of your exam period, you're better off guessing than leaving questions unanswered.
The most important advice about taking any Microsoft exam is this: Read each question carefully. Some questions are deliberately ambiguous, some use double negatives, and others use terminology in incredibly precise ways. The authors have taken numerous examsboth practice and liveand in nearly every one, have missed at least one question because they didn't read it closely or carefully enough.
Here are some suggestions on how to deal with the tendency to jump to an answer too quickly:
Make sure you read every word in the question. If you find yourself jumping ahead impatiently, go back and start over.
As you read, try to restate the question in your own terms. If you can do this, you should be able to pick the correct answer(s) much more easily.
When returning to a question after your initial read-through, read every word againotherwise, your mind can fall quickly into a rut. Sometimes, revisiting a question after turning your attention elsewhere lets you see something you missed, but the strong tendency is to see what you've seen before. Try to avoid that tendency at all costs.
If you return to a question more than twice, try to articulate to yourself what you don't understand about the question, why the answers don't appear to make sense, or what appears to be missing. If you chew on the subject for a while, your subconscious may provide the details that are lacking, or you may notice a "trick" that will point to the right answer.
Above all, try to deal with each question by thinking through what you know about the Windows 95 utilities, characteristics, behaviors, facts, and figures involved. By reviewing what you know (and what you've written down on your information sheet), you will often recall or understand things sufficiently to determine the answer to the question.
Based on the exams the authors have taken, some interesting trends have become apparent. For those questions that take only a single answer, usually two or three of the answers will be obviously incorrect, and two of the answers will be plausibleof course, only one can be correct. Unless the answer leaps out at you (if it does, reread the question to look for a trick; sometimes, those are the ones you're most likely to get wrong), begin the process of answering by eliminating those answers that are most obviously wrong.
Things to look for in obviously wrong answers include spurious menu choices or utility names, nonexistent software options, and terminology you've never seen. If you've done your homework for an exam, no valid information should be completely new to you. In that case, unfamiliar or bizarre terminology probably indicates a totally bogus answer. As long as you're sure what's right, it's easy to eliminate what's wrong.
Numerous questions assume that the default behavior of a particular utility is in effect. If you know the defaults and understand what they mean, this knowledge will help you cut through many Gordian knots.
As you work your way through the exam, another counter that Microsoft thankfully provides will come in handythe number of questions completed and questions outstanding. Budget your time by making sure that you've completed one-quarter of the questions one-quarter of the way through the exam period (or 13 questions in the first 22 minutes) and three-quarters of them three-quarters of the way through (37 questions in the first 66 minutes).
If you're not finished when 85 minutes have elapsed, use the last 5 minutes to guess your way through the remaining questions. Remember, guessing is potentially more valuable than not answering because blank answers are always wrong, but a guess may turn out to be right. If you don't have a clue about any of the remaining questions, pick answers at random or choose all a's, b's, and so on. The important thing is to submit an exam for scoring that has an answer for every question.
Mastering The Inner Game
In the final analysis, knowledge breeds confidence, and confidence breeds success. If you study the materials in this book carefully and review all of the exam prep questions at the end of each chapter, you should become aware of those areas where additional learning and study are required.
Next, follow up by reading some or all of the materials recommended in the "Need To Know More?" section at the end of each chapter. The idea is to become familiar enough with the concepts and situations that you find in the sample questions so that you can reason your way through similar situations on a real exam. If you know the material, you have every right to be confident that you can pass the exam.
Once you've worked your way through the book, take the practice exam in Chapter 18. This will provide a reality check and help you identify areas you need to study further. Make sure you follow up and review materials related to the questions you miss before scheduling a real exam. Only when you've covered all the ground and feel comfortable with the whole scope of the practice exam should you take a real one.
If you take the practice exam and don't score at least 75 percent correct, you'll want to practice further. At a minimum, download the Personal Exam Prep (PEP) exams and the self-assessment exams from the Microsoft Certification and Training Web site's download page (its location appears in the next section). If you're more ambitious, or better funded, you might want to purchase a practice exam from one of the third-party vendors that offers them.
Armed with the information in this book and with the determination to augment your knowledge, you should be able to pass the certification exam. You need to work at it, however, or you'll spend the exam fee more than once before you finally do pass. If you prepare seriously, the execution should go flawlessly. Good luck!
Need To Know More
By far, the best source of information about Microsoft certification exams is Microsoft itself. Because its products and technologiesand the exams that go with themchange frequently, the best place to go for exam-related information is online.
If you haven't already visited the Microsoft Certified Professional Web pages, do so right now. The Microsoft Certified Professional Web page resides at www.microsoft.com/mcp/ (see Figure 1.1).
Through the menu options offered in the left-hand column of the Microsoft Certified Professional Web page, you can access information about individual tests, certification levels, training materials, and more.
Coping With Change On The Web
Sooner or later, all of the information we've shared with you about the Microsoft Certified Professional Web page, and all of the other Web-based resources we mention throughout the rest of this book, will go stale or be replaced by newer information. In some cases, the URLs you find here might lead you to their replacements; in other cases, the URLs will go nowhere, leaving you with the dreaded "404 File not found" error message.
When that happens, please don't give up! There's always a way to find what you want on the Webif you're willing to invest some time and energy. To begin with, most large or complex Web sitesand Microsoft's qualifies on both countsoffer a search engine. Looking back at Figure 1.1, you'll see that a Search button appears along the top edge of the page. As long as
you can get to the site itself (and we're pretty sure that it will stay at www.microsoft.com for a long while yet), you can use this tool to help you find what you need.
The more particular or focused you can make a search request, the more likely it is that the results will include information you can use. For instance, you can search the string "training and certification" to produce a lot of data about the subject in general, but if you're looking for the Preparation Guide for Exam 70-064, "Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Windows 95," you'll be more likely to get there quickly if you use a search string such as this:
Exam 70-064 AND preparation guide
Likewise, if you want to find the Training and Certification downloads, try a search string such as this one:
training and certification AND download page
Finally, don't be afraid to use general search tools such as www.search.com, www.altavista.digital.com, or www.excite.com to search for related information. Even though Microsoft offers the best information about its certification exams online, there are plenty of third-party sources of information, training, and assistance in this area that do not have to follow a party line like Microsoft does. The bottom line is: If you can't find something where the book says it lives, start looking around. If worse comes to worst, you can always email us! We just might have a clue.
Need More Practice
LANWrights, Inc., the company behind this book, also offers practice tests for sale. You can order practice exam diskettes via snail mail. Because we wrote them ourselves, we don't feel comfortable telling you how great they arebut they surely are a good deal! Currently available tests include NT Server 4.0, NT Server 4.0 in the Enterprise, NT Workstation 4.0, Networking Essentials, TCP/IP,
Proxy Server 2.0, IIS 4.0, and Windows 95. Please send a check or money order to the following address: LANWrights, Inc., P.O. Box 26261, Austin, TX 78755-0261.
Each diskette includes two complete practice tests. Either Netscape Navigator 3 (or higher) or Microsoft Internet Explorer 3 (or higher) is required to use the Java-based testing system on the diskettes. Single exam diskettes are $25 each. Multiple diskettes can be purchased at a discount, as follows:
Two exams for $45
Three exams for $65
Four exams for $85
Five exams for $100
Six exams for $115
Seven exams for $125
All eight exams for $130
Prices include U.S. shipping and required taxes. (Mexico and Canada add $5; all other countries outside North America add $10 for additional shipping charges.) Please be sure to include your name, shipping address, contact phone number, and the number and titles for those practice exams you wish to order.