In January, Microsoft announced retirement dates for more than two dozen active exams. In response to this news, you may decide to steer clear of those exams, but what if you’re still using the technology or already had plans to earn the associated certification?
Luckily, while Microsoft retires certifications and exams, that doesn’t mean that they automatically expire or disappear from your transcript. Once retired, certifications will no longer be able to be earned, but your passed certifications still remain in the Active Microsoft Certifications section of your transcript. Two years after the exam’s retirement date, your certification listing will be moved to the Legacy Microsoft Certifications section of your transcript.
So if you’re up for the challenge, here are seven key strategies for passing Microsoft’s retiring exams.
1. Be realistic.
If you’re taking an exam with a retirement date, you already know that there’s a limited amount of time you’ll have to employ any of these strategies and pass the exams. Be realistic about your foundational knowledge and what you can feasibly do to prepare in time. For example, if you’ve never worked with Active Directory, is it realistic for you to plan to take Exam 70-640: Windows Server 2008 Active Directory, Configuring? Does it align with your career goals? Do you have time?
If you’re not sure, consider talking with a CBT Nuggets Accountability Coach to get some additional guidance.
2. Register and schedule.
This strategy goes hand-in-hand with the “be realistic” recommendation. Because you’ll be taking a retiring exam, it’s especially important to register early and create your preparation schedule accordingly. Work backward from the retirement date to ensure that you have time to dedicate to each of the study strategies described below, plus actually taking the exam. Take note of any other commitments or conflicts you have during that time, and make sure you can accommodate them.
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3. Take a course.
The best strategy for preparing to take a Microsoft certification exam is to take a preparation course. We offer a number of Microsoft courses that are video-based, so you can either begin learning about the subject matter or get a refresher on topics you’ve learned in the past.
4. Work through a book or study guide.
While some of us are visual learners, others may benefit more from the written word. Due to the popularity of Microsoft certifications, many have books and study guides available either for free online or for purchase through retailers.
5. Practice with hands-on experience.
Do you regularly encounter the technologies for the exam you’re preparing to take? Fantastic! If you have access to the software, hardware, and tools that your exam covers, be sure to practice in order to get hands-on experience.
If you’re not among the lucky few who have easy access to the gear to practice for your exam, use a virtual lab. Practice with the labs provided in your study materials, and create your own scenarios to test your comfort level with the technology. Try designing your own solutions without following the step-by-step instructions from your study materials.
6. Take practice tests.
Practice exams are great for assessing your readiness for the certification exam. We provide practice exams through Transcender®, the industry leader in certification practice exams, and you can check this list to see if there is a practice exam available for your certification.
Microsoft also offers practice tests through MeasureUp here that can be very helpful in both testing your preparedness but also getting to know the mechanics of the exam, such as what types of questions you’ll encounter, how they’re expected to be answered, and so on.
We’re all different. Some people find test-taking to be no big deal, and can race through an exam after a good night’s sleep the night before. Others experience more exam anxiety and need to focus on time management to be successful. Do some self-reflection and be honest with yourself about what you need to prepare.
Exams come and go, and it’s up to you to determine whether or not it’s worth pursuing a given certification exam if it’s retiring soon. For the Microsoft exams retiring this year, you know you have a limited window of time during which to employ these strategies and pass your exam. Think of that as an advantage — no procrastination allowed! Once you earn your certification, you have the distinction of being certified for life.
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