There are lots of tools that certification candidates can use to help them prepare. The two most common exam prep approaches are self-study (no classes) and class-driven study (one or more classes of some kind).
The class-driven approach has the advantage of incorporating access to a classroom situation, and it usually includes a practice laboratory where candidates can play with tools and technologies related to the exam in a monitored, pre-configured environment. Also, candidates can consult with experienced, knowledgeable instructors or mentors who can provide additional input, clarify confusion, answer questions and solve problems as they come up in classes or labs. Courses usually include manuals and study materials and, more often than not, incorporate practice tests or drills.
Some classes even schedule exams once the material is covered and may include pre-exam reviews and drills to provide extra opportunities to build skills and knowledge needed to pass an exam (typically in boot camp settings where taking exams is considered part of the overall educational offering). In this case, the ingredients required for self-study preparation may be considered optional, though many courses provide study guides, practice tests, and even Exam Crams as part of their student handout materials. Certainly, candidates who don't plan to take exams immediately upon course completion should use one or more of those elements to maintain or improve exam readiness.
10 PREP STEPS TO THE MCSA AND MCSE CERTIFICATION
Step 01: Choose your target Windows version
Step 02: Establish exam choices and order
Step 03: Deal with the desktop first
Step 04: Security options may appeal
Step 05: Digging into server and admin requirements
Step 06: Complete outstanding electives (optional)
Step 07: Completing the Core Exam (MCSE only)
Step 08: Prepping for individual exams (The self-study prep approach)
Step 09: Prepping for individual exams (The class-driven prep approach)
Step 10: Best exam prep practices
This was first published in March 2005