When Microsoft first announced the Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA) certification in 2001, many TechRepublic members were convinced this certification was little more than a dummied-down MCSE created to target more IT professionals and thus increase Microsoft's profits from certifications. Others, however, felt the MCSA filled a necessary gap between Microsoft's MCP and MCSE certifications and addressed the need for a certification that focused on system administration instead of system engineering.
Despite this disagreement, the MCSA has become a popular certification, and, according to Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine, 70,869 people have received the MCSA as of July 2003. With this in mind, I decided to test our members' knowledge of the MCSA and developed a quick, five-question quiz. Over 1,180 TechRepublic members took the quiz. Here's a rundown of how they did. Would you have done better?
Certification isn't free
The correct answer is $125, and 50 percent of our quiz takers new the answer, as shown in Figure A. As Erik Eckel reported in January of 2002, Microsoft raised the price of all live certification exams from $100 to $125 effective January 4, 2002. This includes MCSA certification exams.
According to Microsoft's Exam and Test Procedures FAQ: "Certification exams are priced according to currency values in available countries/regions. Beta exams are free of charge and offered by invitation only to selected qualified candidates. Live exams are $125 U.S. per exam effective January 4, 2002. Certification exam prices are subject to change. In some countries/regions, additional taxes may apply."
Requirements for certification
The correct answer is True, and 80 percent of those who took the quiz knew this, as shown in Figure B. According to Microsoft, MCSA candidates are required to pass three core exams and one elective exam. Candidates may be required, however, to take additional exams to obtain MCSA specializations, such as MCSA: Security on Windows 2000 and MCSE: Security on Windows 2000. If you have passed Exam 70-240: Microsoft Windows 2000 Accelerated exam, it counts as one of your two core exams for the MCSA and one of the electives. Click here for a complete list of the MCSA requirements and training resources, including a list of all core and elective exams.
The correct answer is: Installing, Configuring, And Administering Microsoft Windows XP Professional, and 49 percent got this one correct, as shown in Figure C. The other exams listed as answers are all electives and Exam 70–0282: Administering Microsoft SQL Server 7.0 is scheduled to be discontinued June 30, 2004. Go here for more information about the discontinuation of Microsoft exams.
Focus on administration
The correct answer is: False; unfortunately, only 47 percent of our quiz takers knew this answer, as shown in Figure D. While I'll agree that network design and implementation skills would greatly complement an MCSA, they aren't critical to achieving the certification.
According to Microsoft, IT professionals who want to "plan, design, and implement Microsoft Windows server solutions and architectures" should choose an MCSE. IT professionals who want to focus on managing and maintaining computer systems should choose an MCSA. Microsoft has squarely aimed the MCSA at IT professionals responsible for network and desktop administration. Click here for more information on deciding whether an MCSA or MCSE is right for you.
Third-party certifications accepted
The correct answer is: CompTIA A+ and CompTIA Network+, and 52 percent of our quiz takers knew the answer, as shown in Figure E. Microsoft allows MCSA candidates to substitute the following CompTIA certifications and certification combinations for an MCSA elective:
- CompTIA Security+5
- CompTIA A+ and CompTIA Network+
- CompTIA A+ and CompServer+
You be the teacher
If you have a topic you'd like us to cover in an upcoming pop quiz, we want to hear about it. Post a comment to this article or drop us a line, and share your suggestions for both quiz topics and questions. As I've mentioned in my previous pop quiz results articles, you get the TechPoints for just taking the quiz, not for getting all the answers correct.
Bill Detwiler has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.