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Tim’s MCSE Journey: 70-414, Part 1

Editor’s Note: CBT Nuggets trainer Tim Warner took the exams required for MCSE certification for both Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 and Microsoft Windows Server 2012. When all was said and done, he took five exams in five weeks! Tim blogged about his experiences and provided valuable insight and advice for other potential test-takers. Here’s part 1 of his final blog post of the series.

Hey, what’s happening? Today I’d like to give you a guided tour of, what is for many, the last exam in the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) in Windows Server 2012, Exam 70-414, Implementing an Advanced Server Infrastructure.tim_blogpost_MCSE_BLOG

If I were to sum up this test in a single sentence, I would say that 70-414 is an exam whose content is “a mile wide and an inch deep.” You have to be intimately familiar with the components that make up the Microsoft private cloud stack:

  • Hyper-V
  • System Center Virtual Machine Manager (VMM)
  • System Center Operations Manager
  • System Center Configuration Manager
  • System Center Orchestrator
  • Windows PowerShell v3
  • System Center Data Protection Manager

Yes, that is a lot of content. By the conclusion of this blog post, you’ll be well prepared for what to expect when you sit down at your Prometric testing workstation.

What Kind of Exam is This?

Exam 70-413 is part of the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) track for Windows Server 2012. All Windows Server MCSE candidates must pass this exam to earn their credential, regardless of whether they qualify for the Exam 70-417 upgrade.

The “advanced solutions” that Microsoft focuses on in this exam might come as a total surprise to those who start their preparation thinking, “I’ve got this. I know Windows Server 2012 inside and out.”

As I said earlier, the focus here is how we can arrange the Microsoft private cloud building blocks into solutions for clients. Interestingly, Windows Server 2012 features, as such, are assumed as a matter of course. Instead, you need to think in terms of “Which System Center product or products meet the client’s stated goals?”

Exam Structure

Exam 70-413 uses the case study format, which makes sense when you consider that you take the role of the Microsoft Solutions Expert, interpreting a client’s situation, constraints, and goals, and suggest Microsoft technologies to provide them with an effective and cost-effective solution.

Specifically, you’ll see approximately two case studies, each of which contains approximately six questions. You can navigate back and forth among the items within a single case, but once you’ve submitted a case for grading, you cannot change any of your answers.

The entire exam consists of 51 items, which means that in addition to the 12 case study-based questions, you’ll see approximately 39 items in a separate, stand-alone bank.

Note: The three portions of the exam are not individually timed. Instead, you have 130 minutes to complete the entire test. If you passed 70-413, then you should already be well familiar with this exam format.

The item types are precisely the same as you’ve seen in the other MCSE exams:

  • Single answer multiple choice (Select the best answer)
  • Multiple answer multiple choice (Choose all that apply)
  • Interactive: Build list and reorder (Choose a certain number of procedural steps and put them in the correct sequence)
  • Interactive: Hot Spot (Click your mouse in the appropriate location in the exhibit)
  • Interactive: Fill in the Blank (Complete several statements by choosing the correct element from drop-down lists)

One complaint I have with the 70-414 exam is the “Choose all that apply” item type. Microsoft used to ask multiple answer multiple choice questions by saying something like, “Choose the two best answers” or the like.

It seems to me a cheap and unnecessarily difficult approach to use the sneaky “Choose all that apply.” To me this strategy puts the test-taker in an uncomfortable position and needlessly produces test anxiety.

 Up Next: During part 2 of this blog post, Tim covers high-emphasis content areas and tips/tricks for the 70-414 exam.


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