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Exam Profile: MCSE: Implementing, Managing, and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Network Infrastructure (70-291)

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To pass the 70-291 exam, you must have the knowledge and skills that are needed to effectively implement a windows network, maintain server resources such as DHCP and DNS and troubleshoot network problems. In this article, Troy Thompson, network administrator and trainer, walks you through the Implementing, Managing, and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Network Infrastructure (70-291) exam. He discusses trouble spots, preparation hints and detailed exam objectives. This article will give you a better idea of what to expect from the exam and the exam process.
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The target audience for the 70-291 exam is IT professionals who work a complex computing environment of medium to large companies. To pass the 70-291 exam, you must have the knowledge and skills that are needed to effectively implement a windows network, maintain server resources such as DHCP and DNS, and troubleshoot network problems. After passing the Implementing, Managing, and Maintaining a Windows Server 2003 Network Infrastructure exam, in addition to being on your way to the MSCE certification, you will achieve Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) status. You also earn core credit toward the following certifications:

In order to get your Microsoft MCSE certification, you will be required to pass seven exams (in any order):

  • Four exams on networking systems
  • One exam on client operating systems
  • One exam on design
  • One elective exam

The 70-291 is a core exam that counts toward one of the four required networking system exams.

Exam Details

  • Number of questions: Approximately 45 questions, with 3-5 simulations (Since Microsoft does not publish this information, the number of exam questions may change without notice).
  • Type of questions: This test consists mainly of multiple choice questions and multiple answer questions. You will definitely encounter some simulation questions.
  • Passing Score: 700 out of 1000
  • Time Limit: 4 hours
  • How to Register: Prometric.com or Certiport.com

Trouble Spots

As with any exam, what is most difficult will vary from person to person. If you have had hands-on experience with DNS, you may want to brush up on your DHCP. Next, you will probably want to take a really good look at subnetting. Unless you have your Network+ or CCNA certifications, you may have never had any experience with this. Once you understand it, you can breeze through the questions on these topics. In the exam details below, you will find a table for subnetting that you should study and know. On this exam, every question counts, so you don’t want to give up anything.

Preparation Hints

Microsoft is notorious for their lengthy questions so you should go ahead and brace yourself for this. Another key is to understand the Microsoft answer. What is meant by this is that many concepts on this exam, such as DNS, DHCP, and TCPIP, are universal, but Microsoft has their own take on this. You can search the Microsoft site for information regarding these areas. One example can be found at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc755374(WS.10).aspx.

Review the Exam Objectives below and make sure that you are familiar with them. If you do have access to a Windows 2003 network, hands-on practice in that environment will help you to connect the theory with real life. Always check the Microsoft site for the specific exam you are going to take. In this instance, the site is http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/exam.aspx?id=70-291&locale=en-us#tab1.

There are many web sites and blogs that can help you to research topics, but be careful to fully research the information you read. It is not advisable to seek out sites that list questions and answers, for several reasons. First, you don’t know if you will be asked a specific question; second, the answers given in a blog may be inaccurate; and third, you need to understand the information to adequately prepare.

When taking the exam, read each question carefully. Make sure that when you click on a choice, that it is really marked. Be careful clicking anywhere on the screen. I found that by inadvertently clicking near the scroll bar on the right of the screen, I actually changed an answer. Before you start the actual exam, you may be presented with an online survey. It does not take time away from your exam, and it can actually help you by letting you prepare a little. When you enter the test room, you are only allowed to take in the piece of paper and pencil that the exam facility provides. It is strongly recommended that you write things that can help you on that piece of paper. During the survey, you can answer a survey question then spend a few seconds jotting down notes before continuing to the next survey question. This will help you use the exam time for actually taking the exam and not for writing notes. Writing down the subnetting table is a good example of something that you can do during the survey. Since this particular exam is four hours long, if you are prepared, you should have plenty of time.

Recommended Study Resources

MCSA/MCSE 70-291 Exam Cram: Implementing, Managing, and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Network Infrastructure by Diana Huggins

MCSA/MCSE Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-291): Implementing, Managing, and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Network Infrastructure by J. C. Mackin and Ian McLean Dr.

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