As with any exam, it will vary from person to person as to what is deemed to be difficult. While one person may have trouble with groups, another will find RAID configurations difficult to understand. There are no real issues with this exam that you need to watch for other than to know the objectives. Hands-on experience that deals with managing and maintaining a Windows network will be of immense value, especially when it comes to the simulations. Basically, the simulations present a mock-up of the computer screen that behaves similarly to an actual server. In a simulation, you may have to set permissions for a folder or add users to a group or some other task.
Review the Exam Objectives below and make sure that you are familiar with them. If you 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. For the 70-290 exam, refer to http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/exam.aspx?ID=70-290&locale=en-us. 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 try to find 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; third, you need to understand the information to adequately prepare.
When taking the exam, read each question carefully. Microsoft is notorious for adding a lot of unneeded information in their questions. Make sure that when you click on a choice, 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. You get a single piece of paper and a marker for writing. Use the first few moments before you start answering questions to make notes. Sometimes there is even a questionnaire at the beginning of the test that does not count against your test time. Use this time to write down notes, facts, tables or other information you may need. Since this particular exam is four hours long, if you are prepared, you should have plenty of time.
Recommended Study Resources
MCSA/MCSE 70-290 Exam Cram: Managing and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Environment (2nd Edition) by Dan Balter and Patrick Regan
MCSA/MCSE 70-290 Cert Flash Cards Online by Pat Regan