Hewlett Packard


MCSE Help : Training on the web
Ben Chai trawls the Internet to find alternative sites with helpful tips for gaining MCSE accreditation.

There is currently a plethora of resources available to aid MCSE study. What you should chose and where you go for this invaluable information is entirely down to you. Let’s take a look at the resources which trainees A and B had at their disposal - and their subsequent success rate.

‘A’ went on every single Microsoft course and purchased thousands of pounds worth of study material. Some of these courses, books and sample tests were excellent and he passed those exams without any retakes. Other study resources he purchased were not as useful and he needed to retake those exams several times.

‘B’ didn’t have as much money as ‘A’ and therefore decided to explore that alternative reality commonly known as the Web. One day, ‘B’ read an article about different Web sites that contained answers to many of the MCSE exams. Like ‘A’, ‘B’ also passed but with substantially less expenditure and more information to learn from.

Information at your disposal

From a financial perspective, it would seem that ‘B’ saved himself a lot of money. Have you ever purchased a resource to help you pass your MCSE only to find it was absolutely useless or only gave you minimal help when you came to take the exam? Or have you ever asked previous exam takers if they could give you an insight into a test, only to be given a very vague and general answer? Perhaps you're the first in your group to take the test so you have no one to ask.

Imagine a Web site that gave you other MCSEs’ views on the resources available - for example, which reading material they recommend and which study guides were a waste of time and money. Perhaps a Web site where exam takers world wide - whether they passed or failed - left copies of questions and known correct answers would be useful?

How does this concept sound to you and what would you pay to access such a site? Would you feel that someone who made this readily available was being irresponsible and devaluing the exams, or would you be grateful for yet another tool to help you obtain that costly qualification known as MCSE? A word of caution: speaking as someone who has gone through the MCSE program the hard way without study aids or MCSE sites, I must stress that you should not just try and remember answers, but also try and understand the reasons for those answers.

Whatever your view, in this month's article I'd like to invite you to come with me on a voyage of discovery through a few of these sites to see if they really can help you pass your MCSE exams.

Let’s start our journey with the seductive www.hardcoremcse.com and have a look at what's currently there. At first glance, it seems to be just another site advertising books from www.amazon.com but let’s see what happens if we click on one of the exams on the left side, such as the Exchange 5.0/5.5 exam. Fantastic: a whole set of recommended reading material and some advice:

www.hardcoremcse.com suggest that there is little point taking the 5.5 exam and that it is better to hold out until ES 6.0 comes along. Taking the 5.0 exam versus the 5.5 exam does not affect your certification process in anyway.

Let's move on to another option such as the IIS 4.0 exam. A list of excellent resources is available, books you shouldn't read, books you should read and if you keep scrolling down the list hidden deep down you will locate a gold mine of brain dumps of actual exam questions.

www.hardcoremcse.com is an excellent Web site listing books and resources. Some of them are incredibly beneficial, others a waste of time. There are also some examples of actual exam questions and links to other sites with similar test contents.

Four hours later, having downloaded everything of worth from this site, paranoia set in that Microsoft, after reading this article, may try and clamp this site. Let’s move swiftly onward to a less attractively-named site but which is more study oriented: www.cramsession.com/mcse.

This is very similar to http://www.hardcoremcse.com. I like the layout as it summarises exam details such as the length of the examination and the amount of questions that will be asked. It tells you exactly what you need to know to pass and the available study resources.

Now again, like me, you are probably more interested in the questions people have discovered – these can be found under the ‘Tips and Tricks’ section. But perhaps something of greater benefit and a component unique to this site is the ‘Cram Session’. This is a condensed summary of facts you will be tested on in your chosen exam. Before you all get excited, there is not a cram session for every exam; at the time of writing, there wasn’t one for Internet Information Server 4.0, for example. However, there is nothing to stop you from writing and submitting one after your test.

Let’s proceed and see what other MCSE gems we can locate. Many innocuous Web sites have MCSE gold hidden away. An example of this is http://www.saluki.com:8081/~2. The first time I connected, it asked me to create a login ID complete with a valid email address. If you are concerned about giving out your personal email address, you can always create a free one on www.yahoo.com or http://www.hotmail.com
If you still have problems connecting directly, an alternative way in is to go to http://www.saluki.com. When you access this site it looks like a Web site devoted to dogs – yes readers a Saluki is a dog! (Never let it be said this series isn’t educational). Hidden behind this world of upper class animals, there is more MCSE treasure. Click on Message Boards and you will see one called Certification and underneath you will see Microsoft/Novell, click on that.

Beware, once you have logged in, your brain may go into ecstatic overload. This is another extremely useful site complete with brain dumps on the core Microsoft exams and discussion forums on questions that people have struggled with. It is very easy to use and like www.hardcoremcse.com it has a list of exams to chose from on the left side.


And finally, for those obscure exams that few people take, there is a rumour that somewhere, a site called Brain Dump heaven exists: a site containing information about every single Microsoft exam. Well, it’s true and here it is: - alias Brain Dump Heaven. As its name suggests, this is one of the sites that should be at the top of your list. There is even a ‘Newbies’ section to get you started with over 100 exam tips and techniques to become an MCSE.

Unlike the other sites, however, you will need to know the code for your Microsoft test - e.g. 70-59 for Supporting TCP/IP on Microsoft Windows NT - as it only lists the exams by numbers. That said, Brain Dump Heaven is a thoroughly useful site considering the challenges you are likely to face. It is full of exam tips and techniques as well as the types of questions contained in the different exams.

And Finally...

A number of sites specialise in particular exams and it is well worth you searching for the site most relevant to your interests. Many of the more general sites include a list of other, more specific sites to help you begin your explorations. For example www.hydratech.com/iis.htm has a lot of information on the IIS exam and www.frontpage.idsonline.com/sallard/ has over 200 questions on the Windows 95 exam


Some of these sites may offer incorrect information so be sure to research them carefully yourself and try and get an understanding as to why your answer is correct (or in some cases more correct).

The site names I've given here were correct at time of going to press, however, some of them do change (e.g. Brain Dump Heaven at one time was called www.mz-net.com/mccorner). If in doubt, www.altavista.digital.com is your friend. You will also find that many of these sites are linked from other MCSE content providers.

Combine many of the brain dumps on the different sites for your studies.

To give yourself the best possible chance of passing you might like to connect to which contains links to many other sites. Alternatively you can start at www.hardcoremcse.com and use the links provided there.

Have fun exploring and good luck!