Getting on the MCSA Path
CBT Vision’s Examiner for 70-218 proves a worthy study tool.
- By Erik Westgard
If you’re among the many thousands of people who have put off upgrading
their MCSE certifications, for whatever reason, you may be looking for
a way to get it. Tackling 70-218, a core exam for the MCSA certification,
is a good first step; CBT’s Examiner can help.
Examiner installs rapidly, and you can dive right in. When you answer
the questions, it presents the correct answers in green and incorrect
answers in red. The explanations are clear and carefully researched. Offering
some flexibility, the questions can be run in three modes: Learning Mode,
for those needing extra help; Testing Mode, which CBT claims is just like
the real thing; and Adaptive Mode, which is designed to help highlight
weaknesses and strengths.
I tried a test question or two right away—things weren’t looking good
for me. This exam is focused on advanced systems engineering topics for
large networks so I ran off to my local Barnes & Noble to get the only
book available on 70-218, from Microsoft Press: Managing a Microsoft Windows
2000 Network Environment, Self-Paced Training Kit. [See "Virtual
Training" for Bill English's review.—Ed.]
About a chapter into the 800-plus-page book, I decided it was time for
Plan B. This was to use the exam package as a learning tool. In this mode,
you try to answer the question, and then use the answers, references,
your lab and a good textbook to try to understand each topic and the relevant
An example of this is the subject of Dfs (Distributed file system). There
are two types of Dfs roots: domain and standalone. Domain Dfs roots are
automatically published and synchronized across host servers. Now, when
the test question casually mentions you’re still on NT 4.0 for part of
your network and you haven’t completely implemented Active Directory,
you have to make the connection that domain Dfs requires AD; to replicate
under standalone Dfs, you have to take three additional steps. Examiner
helps you make the connection.
I noticed a few minor typos. In one case using remote access, CBT got
ISDN and DSL mixed up in a way that was distracting but not relevant to
the answers. Minor errors are OK with me as long as they’re not content-related.
CBT Examiner forced me to think sequentially about a lot of issues. This
is the whole point of a simulation-test question—what job you, as a systems
admin, need to perform and in which order do you perform the steps. There
were a few questions about putting steps in the right order. It wasn’t
intuitive how to re-order steps you selected and moved over to the answer
area in the product. The support e-mail folks came right back with the
answer—drag over a replacement item.
|CBT Vision's 70-218 Examiner can be run in three modes:
Learning Mode, Testing Mode and Adaptive Mode.
The price on the product is good, as is the fact that it’s available
for download (8MB). Seventy-five dollars is well within my impulse-purchase
range. If you get a quality textbook, this software and build a server
lab, you should be well on your way to passing 70-218.
Erik Westgard, CCSP, MCSE, is a Convergence Consultant at a major ISP. At work
he spends a lot of time on next-generation VPN architectures for voice and data,
ITIL and solutions for health care. In his spare time, he's active in amateur
radio, emergency communications and sailing. Erik may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.