Monday, June 16, 2008

Geek Credibility Restored

On Friday I went to the city and sat for the MCDST Exam 70-271..

It's one of the IT exams needed for folks wanting to gain the credential of Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician. It's a good entry-level credential for people who are starting out in IT, or in my case, to kick start training to gain a higher qualification.

I figure you've got to start somewhere, and when you're as lazy as I am with study it's a goal that's perfectly do-able and gets you commited to studying regularly.

Unfortunately due to the non-disclosure agreement, I'm effectively gagged from talking about the types of questions you might encounter on the test.

Here are a few tips if you're thinking of going for this certification;
  • Get your hands on the official training kit. I recommend you buy from ebay. I scored a bargain for $40 instead of $110 retail.
  • Schedule in a regular study time and set realistic goals. The training kit is broken up into chapters and exercises and tells you how long each section will take to get through.
  • Be accountable to someone such as a co-worker or boss about your goals. Email them weekly with an update of how you are doing. Re-adjust goals if the schedule isn't working.
  • Book your exam early so you are commited to taking the exam within a certain time frame. If you don't book, you might be tempted to get lazy with your study schedule. Also these tests often need to be booked at least a month in advance so don't miss out.
  • Learn all the material in the book and read technet articles. The book covers just about everything but make sure you read supplimentary material on any areas you are weak on.
  • Photocopy the Lesson Summaries at the end of each chapter and read over them regularly. Re-read these summaries on the morning of your exam to jog your memory.
  • Take the practice tests on the CD-ROM included with the training kit. It'll let you know the areas where you need to improve. In my case, I bombed majorly on the practice tests which made me study a lot harder. As a result I did very well on the day with a score of 816 (a pass is 700) and I found the real exam to be a lot easier than the practice tests.
  • Make sure you take sufficient ID to the exam. One photo ID and one bank/credit card.
  • Have something good to eat before you exam (I recommend at least 3 weetbix) and make sure you're fully hydrated. Unfortunately they don't allow food and drink in the exam cube and you'll be in there for 2hrs.
When you finish up your exam with a stunningly awesome pass mark, you might want to celebrate at a local restaurant. I found a sweet cafe and ordered a huge stack of tempura fish, fat chips and chased it down with a huge chocolate cookie. Ah, good times..

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