SharePoint MCSE

If you’ve been following the previous posts, then I’m sure you get the picture by now. I’m about to give you some tips on passing the final MCSA exam for Windows Server 2012. And that means you’re one exam away from gaining the full MCSA cert that you’ve been coveting. If you’re following my journey for gaining SharePoint MCSE, then you’ve still got two more exams after this one. If not, consider yourself lucky! It’s all downhill from here. The 70-412 exam is the culmination of everything you’ve learned in the previous two with a more advanced leaning, hence the name Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services. Personally, I felt much better about this exam than I did with 70-411 due to my disdain for advanced networking. And although my score was lower on 70-412 than the previous two, I still felt better about my knowledge of the content than 70-411.

Microsoft has begun incorporating Windows Server 2012 R2 questions into the exam. The fundamentals are the same as previous iterations, but you should understand what’s new in 2012 R2 before taking the exam. Read more
Study Resources:
  • Study Guide – Unfortunately I didn’t find a suitable study guide that I really liked, so I would recommend using the beastly Windows Server 2012 Inside Out book. It clocks in at over 1,500 pages, and it literally has everything you need to know about Windows Server 2012. Sure it’s overkill, but you can use this for all the MCSA exams and as a general desk reference. At the time of this writing, there still isn’t a suitable study guide for 70-412 with updated content for R2. The updated guide is coming out in March 2014 for the changes in R2.
  • TechNet – As with 70-411, TechNet was a great resource for deep reference. There is no other written source available that dives as deep into these topics than TechNet. You should be joined at the hip from here on out to complete MCSA 2012.
  • CBT Nuggets – I’ve been a huge proponent of the CBT Nuggets videos for the previous two exams, but this time around I went for a slightly different approach (more below). There’s nothing inherently wrong with the 70-412 videos, but I wanted to try something different. I still feel as though the investment in CBT Nuggets is a very worthwhile one.
  • Pluralsight – After many recommendations from colleagues, I decided to use Pluralsight as my source for video training on 70-412. If you’ve never heard of them before, it’s probably because they recently used to go by the name of TrainSignal. Pluralsight is a very affordable alternative to CBT Nuggets, and I was very impressed with the value based on the pricing offered. If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to gain access to a lot of great video training, then grab a free trial. And be sure to check out the Pluralsight 70-412 videos.
  • Practice Exams – Don’t walk into the test center without having at least one go at a practice exam. There are so many practice exam providers out there, that it can be difficult to get an idea of which provider is the best. One key thing to look for is whether or not the provider will guarantee that you pass your exam. This at least gives you added value, so you can get your money back under certain circumstances, assuming that you didn’t pass the exam on the first take. I am a fan of Transcender, and I would recommend starting there. You can also try MeasureUp and Boson.
  • Virtual Lab – If you built your own lab for 70-411, then keep it handy. You’ll want to be able to work through some of these advanced scenarios in real-time. Unfortunately, it’s going to be hard to truly perform some of the advanced configurations with only one VM. Do the best you can to replicate what you see in the videos, and you’ll be fine.
  • Updated Exam Objectives – Microsoft put together a nice listing of the updated exam objectives that started in January 2014.
The updated exam objectives PDF linked above does a really great job of listing out the overall topics you should be studying. In my two previous posts I listed some of the topics that I felt warranted further review. This time around, I think it’s best to review that PDF and watch the Pluralsight videos. There’s no sense in reinventing the wheel here. I will say though that I spent a lot of time on High Availability/Failover Clustering, Dynamic Access Control, VM movement, and ADFS. I’ll be honest, I was concerned that there would be a great deal of very difficult ADFS questions here, as that topic can be brutal. But I think Microsoft is mainly concerned with test takers understanding the overall capabilities and some of the deeper functionality, but certainly not all of it. Consider yourself lucky! If you’ve followed the above recommendations, and spent enough time practicing the exam, then I believe you’re well on your way to achieving Windows Server 2012 MCSA! Congratulations, you earned it! For those going for the full MCSE SharePoint cert, stay tuned. I’m planning on taking at least one exam during SharePoint Conference 2014, so I’ll post my tips for 70-331 and 70-332 as soon as I’ve passed.