Tackling Those MCSE Exams

Seeking comprehensive prep materials for the Windows 2000 core tests?

You’ve been putting off getting your Windows 2000 MCSE cert. If only you had a comprehensive study guide to prepare with, you say, you’d feel confident scheduling the exams. Well, here comes Microsoft to the rescue — with a training kit designed to ready you for the Win2K MCSE core exams!

This is what you’ve been waiting for, right? I mean, the exams come from Microsoft. The books come from Microsoft. Certainly this will teach you everything you need to know to pass the exams. Or will it?

Let’s see, the kit includes four study guides, one each for the four core exams: Win2K Professional (70-210), Win2K Server (70-215), Win2K Network Administration (70-216) and Win2K Active Directory Administration (70-217). Also included are two CDs: Supplemental Course Materials and a 120-day evaluation of Win2K Server.

The Win2K Professional and Server books cover the expected topics — for example, installation, file systems and security. The Professional guide places more focus on client-side issues such as network protocols, hardware profiles and DNS, while the Server guide almost immediately dives into Active Directory, print and network services, RAS and monitoring. With the Professional volume at 600 pages and the Server book at 1,000, topics are covered in depth.

The Network Admin guide gives a clear indication of Microsoft’s current view. While many initially considered Exam 70-216 to be a replacement for the Networking Essentials test, the Network Admin guide clearly shows that the focus is on advanced TCP/IP. Sure, topics such as NWLink are covered, but you won’t find one page offering a detailed analysis of the OSI model. What you will find, among other things, are network monitoring, name resolution (mostly DNS), RAS, DHCP and NAT.

It’s no secret that AD is Win2K’s cornerstone, and the AD Admin book reflects this — it’s 600 pages of setting up and administering AD. Planning, implementing, integration with DNS, and administrative tools are thoroughly covered, along with user and group administration, security, shared resources, and Remote Installation Services (RIS).

Like all other Microsoft study guides I’ve used, these Win2K books are set up as a series of lessons. Interspersed throughout are practical exercises, and each chapter ends with review questions. In addition, the Supplemental Course Materials CD is quite useful, as it contains supporting material for the Server book, plus electronic versions of all four books.

The format of these study guides is incredibly conducive to learning. Unfortunately, though, some topics are glossed over. As with all Microsoft study guides, these Win2K guides are designed to teach you to use specific products, not, or at least not only, to prepare you for the Win2K exams. For instance, AD security is an important topic, yet the AD guide devotes less than 60 pages to this. It actually gives more to Group Policies!

So, should you use this training kit to prepare for the Win2K exams? Without question. Should you rely solely on it? I, for one, am not going to.

About the Author

Chris Brooke, MCSE, is a contributing editor for Redmond magazine and director of enterprise technology for ComponentSource. He specializes in development, integration services and network/Internet administration. Send questions or your favorite scripts to [email protected].

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