Like most other Microsoft certification exams, the 70-686 exam is divided into a series of objectives. In the past Microsoft has indicated how heavily each objective weighs into the overall exam score. In this case however, the exam objectives are not weighted so it is difficult to guess at which subject area has the biggest influence on your overall score.
Many of the people who have taken this exam have commented on its difficulty (compared to other Microsoft exams). By far the one objective that seems to cause people the most trouble is Designing Client Configurations.
On the surface, this particular exam objective seems simple. It is all about ensuring a consistent end user experience from one desktop to the next. However, what makes this objective so difficult is that candidates are expected to know how to configure a dizzying array of operating system settings. This one single objective covers everything from Internet Explorer customizations to logon scripts. You will also need to know about group policies, Windows Firewall rules, User Access Control policies, and a number of other security standards.
Another thing that seems to trip people up about this exam is the overall exam philosophy. Most of the Microsoft certification exams are designed to test basic product knowledge. This particular exam does require you to have a good understanding of Windows 7, but the exam places a very heavy emphasis on best practices. Much of the exam material is based on theoretical planning.
Exam 70-686 is probably the most difficult of the Windows 7 certification exams and there is a high rate of failure for the exam. Because the bulk of the exam focuses on image creation and deployment, many have found it helpful to take Exam 70-680 (TS: Windows 7, Configuring) prior to taking Exam 70-686. Passing Exam 70-680 ensures that you will have a good basic knowledge of Windows 7. More importantly however, roughly about 27% of the exam’s content focuses on deployment. Some people who have taken both exams report that some of the questions from the 70-680 exam showed up on the 70-686 exam as well.
Recommended Study Resources
Microsoft offers classroom training for this exam, but a number of other study materials are also available. Some of the available resources include: