Sunday, April 27, 2008

My MCSE Bootcamp Experience

Two weeks ago I ventured to Vienna, VA to take the second half of the MCSE 2003 bootcamp given by the Training Camp. Last May I attended the MCSA bootcamp portion at the Training Camp facility in Bushkill, PA. This time I arrived two days early to review as much of the 70-291 lectures.

The facilities were much different than the resort setting at Bushkill. The classroom was in an office building down the hall from the ISC2 office, it's a bit cramped but cozy with fewer classes and students. The food, the instructors, and staff, as expected, were great. I hit the jackpot by getting the same instructor from the MCSA portion.

My first day we had to pack up and move rooms. They have much less classroom space, and the new class needed the large room we were in. It did disrupt every ones train of thought, and for those that had been there for the last week, kinda throw things off track momentarily. But we quickly bounced back and forged ahead.

Students stayed at the Homestead Studio Suites just 2 buildings away. While the room was much smaller than the villa at Bushkill, it's plenty adequate for someone who is in class for 11 hours a day, and just needs a quiet place to study and sleep.

Tuesday night, all the students took the 70-291 exam, except me because I've already taken and passed it. After everyone finished the exam, class resumed at 9:30PM, with 70-293; we broke just a few minutes before midnight.

Wednesday Morning, we continued with 70-293. After covering Clusters, Network Load Balancing, or Certification Authority, the rest of 293 was a review from 70-290 and 291. Thank God I had the notion to arrive 2 days early for review because I surely needed it.

Wednesday Night, we tested on 70-293. It didn't start out so good, my testing computer crashed just before the exam started (DOH!) and scored me a big fat ZERO. The proctor quickly got that fixed with Prometric, and I was on my way. I felt pretty good from the first question, and by the end had no doubts that I'd passed. It was a good score, nothing to brag about though.

Thursday, we started 70-294 (Active Directory). I have a hand in training new personnel at my job, I tell them that AD is the core managing Windows. Know AD and your life will be easier. Let's hope I've been giving them sound advice all these years.

On Friday we continued with AD. The weather had warmed considerably from earlier in the week, so the classroom temperature was getting uncomfortable. The A/C was not functioning in our classroom, opening the windows only brought in more distracters. But we drove on. 70-294 is about making sense of the big picture with sites, domains, roles, policies and permissions. By the afternoon we had finished the curriculum and put in study mode. Friday, like Thursday was a beautiful day outside, probably the nicest day this Spring. It made it that much harder to be inside with my nose in a study guide and my eyes 18 inches from a computer screen. The exam began at 6PM; I finished at 8:30PM. I passed, that's all I have to say about it .

For Friday night, our marching orders were to study the 70-298 section. Myself, being a huge SCIFI fan, I had to fight the urge to pay attention to the TV since a new episode of Battlestar Galactica came on at 10PM.

Saturday morning came way too soon, but they served a nice hot breakfast, and we were off to the races. The outside temperature was up in the high 70's again. At about Noon we finished the lectures so we could adjourn to studying for the 298 Design exam at 4PM. I walked back to my room and found it to be just the right mix of
comfort and quiet to get some quality study time in. 4PM came and there I was in front of the exam.

I passed the 298 exam, again that's all I'll say, I got my MCSE. It was tough with the way the exam was constrained, and time squeeze we are under in the camp to massage the material. At 7PM, we reconvened class again to begin the 70-299 portion. Like 298, none is really new, but it's the concept of applying it on a broader scale, putting many concepts together. We adjourned at 9:30PM. I went back to my room and studied till about midnight.

We didn't have class on Sunday morning, rather the exam began at 9:30AM. We all arrived to class at the normal time to study. The 299 exam is difficult compared to the rest. While Microsoft will not give you a trick question, their exams are reading comprehension intensive. The 299 exam is just that, and the selection of answers are close enough that you really need to know the material. The obvious answers will not jump out at you like previous exams. So prepare - prepare - prepare. I didn't fare so well, came in just under the mark. It's a shorter exam, both time and number of questions, so there's less room for error as well. I will be making arrangements to go back and kick it this time with the Microsoft second chance voucher.

Overall it was a pleasant experience, and less stressful than going to my job. I recommend it to anyone that has a few years experience and wants to get certified (DODD 8570 is coming!). As I've written in previous articles, the instructors and support people do everything in their power to make the experience as pleasant and painless as possible. I plan to go back for Server 2008 when it becomes available.


John Crawford

Accokeek Computers
Accokeek Gifts
Mamas Best Recipes
The Cartouche - Science Fiction Reviews
Simple Opportunities
Conquer Your Niche

AddThis Social Bookmark Button