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70-649 - Frustrated with the preparation process and MS Press and Tests

    General discussion

  • If no MS Press self-paced materials were available from March of this year to September...regarding the change from 2008 to 2008 R2, How am I supposed to study effectively for the 70-649? I wasted time, money, and stress over trying to take MS tests with no real gauge for the content of the test and what I would be facing. Thats too big of a gap between when the test changed to R2 and when Microsoft actually released parallel materials to help prepare. 

    Also, the MS Press materials are way too introductory in nature that it would never help you actually prepare for the questions on the test, which test the BOUNDARIES of the operating system and the fringe tools and uses and scenarios more than what is real world and is covered in the books. 

     

    There is a huge chasm between test and materials. 

     

    This is why my peers are buying dumps and I'm the chump who ends up taking the test 4 times just to figure out what to study. RIDICULOUS.

     

    Josh

    Tuesday, December 20, 2011 6:07 PM

All replies

  • I agree it can be very frustrating when no study material exists and have been in the same situation as you a couple of times.

    Study materials are provided to reinforce what you've learnt via hands-on experience, not as a replacement to hands-on experience. If you have already failed the exam 4 times, I would recommend that you wait until preparation material becomes available before you sit the exam again as it's obvious that you don't have enough experience with R2 required to pass the exam.  If you’re not prepared to wait, look into the new features added in R2 and use these to research content via TechNet, blogs, forums, etc.  Then play with these features in R2.

    With regards to dumps, people using them will get caught out.  It may not be straight away, however they will get caught.  Once they’re caught, they’ll lose all their certifications and be banned from sitting any further certification exams.  Using dumps may seem like the easy way out however people caught using them will be branded as a cheat for life.


    Jeff Wharton
    MSysDev (C.Sturt), MDbDsgnMgt (C.Sturt), MCT, MCPD, MCITP, MCDBA
    Blog: Mr. Wharty's Ramblings
    MC ID: Microsoft Transcript

    Please mark answered if I've answered your question and vote for it as helpful to help other user's find a solution quicker
    Tuesday, December 20, 2011 10:18 PM
    Moderator
  • Jeff,

     

    Let me point out that I see you have a history of Development certifications (and history) with Microsoft products, etc.. I applaud that. Unfortunately, the development track and this track is a bit different. Whereas in development, I can learn new paradigms and formulas for creating content based on rules and workflows, in the Windows Server 2008 R2 OS world (specifically the 70-649), its is very little to do with cerebral problem solving, and much much more to do with knowing the selling points and obscurity of features and boundaries of the operating system features that have nothing to do with the practical or expertise in how the OS actually functions or runs or is managed. 

    The 70-649 exam is an upgrade exam, so it assumes you know the workings of rule-based protocols and systems like IP subnetting, and MS DNS server and how DNS works, etc. No problem. What the 70-649 R2 test does: it in fact skips all that and tests you on new feature obscurity of the impractical (even obscurity that isn't even native or found on the OS by default, but must be downloaded separately). I am not trying to complain that the test was too hard. If you took me for a lazy learner, look again. I'm trying to sound off through my frustration that the aim on this test and perhaps the 3 tests that it is built on (70-640, 70-642, and 70-643) is in fact testing on the wrong type of content. I feel that I am now able to *sell* the operating system *more* than "administrate" it or be able to be all I can be as an engineer.  (at least, it seems their aim is this very thing)

    I understand where you're coming from, your points taken, and I agree. I have heeded this philosophy of LIVING that which I certify myself in and that was my aim.

    Here's another beef:

    I spent the better half of a year working with my own lab on windows server 2008, preparing to certify on my own knowledge and experience. I also worked with the 2008 server OS at work on a daily basis. 

    However, the very month that I went in to initially test, fully prepared using MS press to prepare for content areas to study and focus on, MS changed the test to the new R2 content (basically a new OS, new release) with more than half of the questions geared towards the new R2 content. After failing the exam, I went to my local bookstore and found that not only was there no materials to help prepare for the new content, they wouldn't be producing any new materials for close to 6 months later. I have a problem with that. 

    I can see how you would be baffled at how I couldn't just spend a few months in my lab and learn the technical aspects and how it "all fits together" and use those rules and formulas and come out with the right answers. But that is not how this learning track has ever worked. Its an exercise of the impractical and of the obscure and this certification is not a confirmation of current skills, it is poorly devised in the area of question aim and content. 

    What this post about is my frustration and my desire for MS to change the test to be more practical and more geared towards engineering, and less towards making Microsoft Sales Engineers. I'm saddened because this I wanted this certification to be a confirmation of my already attained knowledge and experience, and instead it is now a mere paperweight of little pride.

    Thanks for your post, as I share your philosophy about the approach to learning.

    Josh

    Wednesday, December 21, 2011 2:26 AM
  • I'm not baffled as to why you couldn't just spend a few months in your lab and I certainly didn’t call you lazy. I think your frustration with exams has clouded your perspective of what I was saying.

    I also have certifications in SQL Server 2008 Administration which are not developer orientated.  They too were updated with SQL Server 2008 R2 content when I sat the exam even though no details of this change was on the certification site.  I was able to pass these because of my technical experience, not my selling and marketing ability.

    The certifications you are trying to achieve are not sales related certifications, they are technical certifications.  If you’re sitting them to be a better salesperson, you’re probably making life difficult for yourself.

    I wish you luck with your study and with achieving your goals.


    Jeff Wharton
    MSysDev (C.Sturt), MDbDsgnMgt (C.Sturt), MCT, MCPD, MCITP, MCDBA
    Blog: Mr. Wharty's Ramblings
    MC ID: Microsoft Transcript

    Please mark answered if I've answered your question and vote for it as helpful to help other user's find a solution quicker
    Wednesday, December 21, 2011 2:36 AM
    Moderator
  • "The certifications you are trying to achieve are not sales related certifications, they are technical certifications.  If you’re sitting them to be a better salesperson, you’re probably making life difficult for yourself."

    I'm not. Thats my point with the issues with these specific tests.

    "I was able to pass these because of my technical experience, not my selling and marketing ability."

    Congratulations.

    Cheers, 

    Josh

    Wednesday, December 21, 2011 2:50 AM
  • Sorry however I still miss your point.  Are they too technical?  Are you taking the exams as salesperson/marketing or as a techo?
    Jeff Wharton
    MSysDev (C.Sturt), MDbDsgnMgt (C.Sturt), MCT, MCPD, MCITP, MCDBA
    Blog: Mr. Wharty's Ramblings
    MC ID: Microsoft Transcript

    Please mark answered if I've answered your question and vote for it as helpful to help other user's find a solution quicker
    Wednesday, December 21, 2011 2:59 AM
    Moderator
  • Jeff, no worries. Have a good one.
    Wednesday, December 21, 2011 3:02 AM
  • You too :-)
    Jeff Wharton
    MSysDev (C.Sturt), MDbDsgnMgt (C.Sturt), MCT, MCPD, MCITP, MCDBA
    Blog: Mr. Wharty's Ramblings
    MC ID: Microsoft Transcript

    Please mark answered if I've answered your question and vote for it as helpful to help other user's find a solution quicker
    Wednesday, December 21, 2011 3:09 AM
    Moderator
  • For me there is nothing more frustrating than getting into an exam and finding you have either studied the wrong material or worse they have changed the goalposts.

    So firstly some information. I am a developer and I also have some of the Windows Server 2003 certs. Like Jeff I also have the SQL MCITPs. But I have also been involved in the design process for exams wih Microsoft and being lucky enough to be able to give my 2 cents on some issues that have been bugging me.

    When an exam is developed, the books and training materials are developed in parallel because of a strict requirement for ANSI Accredidation (ISO 17024) for the MCITP 2008 certs which for the most part that people involved in developing the exams cannot be involved in developing the books or training materials. The exam process for instance could start in October with the final exam appearing in the wild in July.

    The exam goes through a number of stages including Alpha where the exam topics are decided, question writing, beta testing where people take the full set of questions and finally there is the question review where questions are eliminated from the exam pool. All of this is done using SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) and these people are removed from the people being able to write training and books.Usually the topics for the exam are released with the Beta.

    So by the time the authors of books know where to start with exam topics they are already well behind the exam and hence why most training kits (I wont say books on the subject) turn up 6 months or longer after the exam. This is if they can get people to write it of course.

    Now that is just an explanation of the exam development cycle and the side by side nature of training materials development.

    I am hoping that when you go to study for an exam you look at the exam matrix on the Microsoft site to figure out what to study. Each exam comes with the exam guidelines where MS as much as they will say tell you what they will examine you on. For example, the 70-640 exam matrix is here. From reading your second post, I would guess that is already known to you as anyone who would be attempting an upgrade exam. I am pointing this out so that others who may read this post who may not know will find that nugget :)

    With upgrades, they generally tend to focus on the differences and new stuff in the product rather than the obvious technical stuff that will remain the same through the versions like as you pointed out IP Subnetting. If you passed that on 2003 not much has changed in 2008.

    In upgrades they will be looking at what was done in 2003 and what is new in 2008 & R2 and usually offer you a question where the old way and new way is now shown and the answer being the new way.Additionally there is sometimes a tendency to have stuff on how would Microsoft do it rather than in the real world type of question. They are introducing a new question type which is based on best answer for a given scenerio rather than an absolute right and wrong answer type. See this blog post for more.

    As for prep material, Technet and blogs provide your best bet. You already have a lab so you can play with the different functions that you may not of. As I said check the matrices, take a practice test from the likes of MeasureUp or SelfTest and see how you go. Books are one way to go but there is so much more valid and legit material out there for you to use.

    Normally I make up the exam topics as an excel sheet, go through each one, verify that I know it either by doing it in a lab, practicing it in real life or in most cases braving the labyrinth that is TechNet or MSDN :) When on either I also look at the additional topics and subject around it so I can get a better overview of whats involved.

    What this post about is my frustration and my desire for MS to change the test to be more practical and more geared towards engineering, and less towards making Microsoft Sales Engineers.

    I agree partly with this. I have said in a blog post or two that sometimes it feels like these exams are part marketing part technical. As in they are advertising the new features more than existing core functionality. Again it depends on who wrote the question and what was accepted in the end..

    I hope this helps you somewhat..

     



    Blog: http://www.certsandprogs.com

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    Wednesday, December 21, 2011 8:43 AM
    Moderator
  • This book is intresting;

    http://www.amazon.com/MCTS-Windows-Server-Complete-70-640/dp/0470948469/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1324482783&sr=8-2

    this book includes  the 70-640, 70-642 and 70-643, which is what the 70-649 R2 exam tests you on. The exam has three sections each for the 3 exams mentioned.

    Not sure if this helps in the preperations.

    Wednesday, December 21, 2011 3:55 PM
  • Niall,

     

    Thank you for weighing in. 

     

    "I am hoping that when you go to study for an exam you look at the exam matrix on the Microsoft site to figure out what to study. Each exam comes with the exam guidelines where MS as much as they will say tell you what they will examine you on."

    I did, thanks. It was helpful for the topics covered in a broad sense.

    "As for prep material, Technet and blogs provide your best bet."

    I totally agree, and after this experience, I will be using those two resources going forward for prep.

    I also appreciate your honesty.


    Thanks,

    Josh


    Thursday, December 22, 2011 6:56 PM