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Should I go for the MCSE 2000 or 2003 exam? What are the best tools to use?

I want to start studying for the MCSE. My questions are:

1. Which books are the best for this line of study?
2. Should I go for MCSE 2000 or MCSE 2003?
3. What are the best tools to use to study - the Internet, books or labs?
Good questions, all of them. I'll answer your questions in the order stated.

1. Which books are the best for this line of study?
As somebody who edits two series of books in this subject area, I'm probably not the most unbiased person you could ask. Quite naturally, I think our Exam Cram 2 and Training Guide titles (Que Publishing; www.examcram2.com). I'd recommend instead that you go to Amazon, B&N, or some other online bookstore where readers rate books and let other people's experience help guide your selections. Interestingly, it does vary from exam to exam, so don't expect to buy books in only one series!

2. Should I go for MCSE 2000 or 2003?
That depends on what's in use where you work now (or want to work soon) and how soon any migration to 2003 is going to happen. If you're got more than a year before you MUST learn 2003, start with 2000 and plan to take the two upgrade exams (70-292 and 70-296) to get ready for 2003. Otherwise, go straight to 2003.

3. What's the best material to use to study - Internet, books, or labs?
That depends on your personal learning style. Most people who prepare for cert exams buy at least one or two books, so that's pretty much a given. If you can get into a classroom or take an online class, most people say they learn best in a classroom situation. And no matter what you do to get ready for the MCP exams you'll take for the MCSE, you'll want to incorporate practice tests and hands-on experience (in a lab, or somewhere else) into your preparation regimen. Thus the real answer to your question is either (a) all of the above, or (b) as many of the above as you can afford, PLUS at least one good set of practice tests.

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