Windows 2000 certification

Are you taking the MCSE Windows 2000 Exam? What exactly is on the test? Erik Eckel and Ron Kauffman know. Erik and Ron are co-authors of "MCSE Windows 2000 Accelerated Exam Prep." Join them as they answer your questions about this important cert.

TechProGuild held an online chat on Oct. 19, 2000 in which Erik Eckel and Ron Kauffman discussed Windows 2000 certification. Here's the edited transcript from that chat.

Note: TechProGuild edits Guild Meeting transcripts for clarity.

MODERATOR: Welcome to tonight's Guild Meeting. Tonight's topic will be Windows 2000 certification. TechProGuild's own Erik Eckel will be discussing Windows 2000 certification and some of the tests you'll have to face.

ERIK ECKEL: Please note: Based on member feedback, the TechProGuild site has been updated to ensure you enjoy the access you need to IT information and resources. You no longer must wait a few days for a regularly scheduled Guild Meeting to find answers to your technical questions. Just post your questions in our Technical Q&A section ( You can also start or join a discussion in progress by visiting our Discussion Center (, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

TechProGuild will discontinue hosting regularly scheduled Guild Meetings on Oct. 19, 2000, but keep your eye out for specially scheduled Guild Meetings in the future. On behalf of the TechProGuild staff, I want to thank you for your participation in the regularly scheduled Guild Meetings, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy the new features.

By the way, Ron is a guest speaker with me tonight. He's MC+ everything.

Time is ticking away
IFLIP4DOC: What if you don't recertify by January 2002?

ERIK ECKEL: Iflip4doc, if you don't recertify, you’ll lose your MCP/MCSE status.

IFLIP4DOC: Erik, in your opinion, do you think there is any chance Microsoft is going to move the date back? After all, only one of the companies we support has even considered using 2000.

RON: I hope they don't move the date. I'm ready for fewer MCSEs.

ERIK ECKEL: No, I have heard from "excellent" sources that the retirement date will not be postponed. Why would Redmond do that? Win2K sales are exceeding forecasts!

RON: They’re 18 percent ahead of their sales projections, I hear. Guess Win2K MCSE will be worth a buck or two.

No new MCSE level
JCARLISLE: Why doesn't Microsoft do what Novell did and create a different level of MCSE? NT 4.0 doesn’t magically disappear in 2001, so the certifications shouldn’t disappear either.

ERIK ECKEL: NT 4.0 technology will largely be legacy in 2002. So, I expect it's a move to ensure that network administrators don't promote themselves as having drastically different skills than those that are needed.

JCARLISLE: Since when is “legacy” such a bad thing? NT 4.0 is proven to work, and for most people, it will still be able to do the job in 2001 just as well as now.

ERIK ECKEL: Legacy means old. In this case, it will mean outdated. The lion's share of benefits from Win2K come from features not supported in NT 4.

Answers to your exam questions
FREDMERTZ: How much is the price going up?

ERIK ECKEL: Price of what, Fred?

FREDMERTZ: The price for the exams.

RON: Exams are still $100, but $65 for MCTs.

FREDMERTZ: That's not too bad.

IFLIP4DOC: What are MCTs?

RON: MCT stands for Microsoft Certified Trainer.

IFLIP4DOC: The cost of the core is free, correct?

ERIK ECKEL: Yes, the 70-240 core is free.

RON: The core exams are not free. If you fail the 70-240, you have to take the four core tests. So if you fail the 70-240, it will cost you $400.

ERIK ECKEL: If you fail 70-240, you're probably not ready to move on, and the review will be good for you.

IFLIP4DOC: You get only one shot at the 70-240 exam, right?

RON: One shot at the free 70-240, correct.

ERIK ECKEL: Yes, it's a single, four-hour shot.

RON: I believe the 70-240 is 6 hours, 97 questions. I took the teacher version, early last summer. It was tough!

ERIK ECKEL: Ron's been working a little too much lately. Here's the info direct from MS' site:

 Exam 70-240 is a four-hour exam. Seating capacity at testing centers may be limited during the last few months the exam is available because of high demand. Please plan accordingly and register as early as possible.

RON: I just got the word from the test administrator here the upgrade is four hours (sorry).

ERIK ECKEL: By the way, ensure you're eligible to take the 70-240. You have to have passed the following:

70-067: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0

70-068: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 in the Enterprise

70-073: Implementing and Supporting Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0

IFLIP4DOC: Do you know what the percentage has to be for the 70-240 exam?

ERIK ECKEL: I've heard from well-placed sources at training centers that most candidates are failing this exam. In fact, the fail rate is alarming. Microsoft's definitely raising the bar.

IFLIP4DOC: What's the passing score?

RON: I hear the pass rates for the folks reading the exam prep is pretty good (judging from the reviews on

FREDMERTZ: What areas of the exam have the most problems for test takers?

ERIK ECKEL: I expect most folks are having trouble with the new features in Win2K: Active Directory, VPNs, dual-booting with Win2K, etc.

Study guides
IFLIP4DOC: Are your two books on just the core or do they cover everything?

RON: Our book is on the 70-240. It covers everything.

IFLIP4DOC: Does your book go into depth about these topics or do they cover what is on the exams?

RON: We go into depth on all the exam objectives. Also, the book has hands-on labs and practice tests to help you prepare.

JCARLISLE: Can you cover some of the highlights of those objectives?

ERIK ECKEL: The highlights are the entire contents of the four core exams, essentially: Pro, Server, Network Infrastructure, Directory Infrastructure. All aspects.

RON: It covers installing Win2K, administering resources, and installing and troubleshooting hardware.

ERIK ECKEL: Yes, it covers installing Win2K, VPNs, RAS, Active Directory configuration, replication, administration, user administration, security, and disk administration all come readily to mind.

RON: It also covers configuring the environment, installing and troubleshooting, and network connectivity. It includes Admin WINS, DHCP, DNS, RAS, Routing and RRAS, and Active Directory.

RR: I see the book on Amazon. What's on the CD?

RON: The CD has a test engine with 100 questions.

ERIK ECKEL: The CD-ROM includes sample test questions.

Adaptive tests
IFLIP4DOC: Now are all these new tests going to be adaptive?

ERIK ECKEL: The test could be adaptive, Microsoft says. I don't think you'll see an adaptive 70-240, though.

RON: Adaptive is going out; case based is the new thing. They are terrible. Never thought 40 questions could take four hours to answer, but they do.

FREDMERTZ: Oh, so now adaptive is going out.

IFLIP4DOC: What’s your opinion on transcenders?

ERIK ECKEL: I believe transcenders are excellent tools for helping spot your weaknesses.

RON: There are no transcenders for the upgrade. However, there are transcenders for the core (Pro, Server, Impl. Active Directory, Impl. Network Infrastructure). They are very challenging. I think if you buy the core now, you get a deal on the upgrade transcenders when they come out.

Exam tips
IFLIP4DOC: Do you feel you need a lot of hands-on experience (none of our clients have installed 2000 yet), or do you have a good chance of passing by studying from your book?

RON: There are numerous labs in the book to help you get the hands-on experience.

ERIK ECKEL: I think you have to have hands-on experience to pass, now. The labs will help. But ensure you've performed unattended installs, network installs, and administered a user base before giving this test a shot.

IFLIP4DOC: I am building myself a server just to install at my house.

ERIK ECKEL: Microsoft recommends you support a minimum of 200 users at five or more locations for at least a year.

IFLIP4DOC: That’s silly considering there is only one year left before the certification period is up.

RON: The test won't be around for much more than a year. Better set up a lab at home ASAP. That way when your clients want to implement it, you'll be ready.

ERIK ECKEL: Absolutely. Ron's right. You have only until 12/31/2001 to pass this test. Indeed, you should already have this OS in some type of testing if you're running WinNT.

IFLIP4DOC: What expires the end of 2001: this test or the whole MCSE plan?

RON: The upgrade test expires 12/31/01. The rest will still be available.

ERIK ECKEL: The opportunity to take the 70-240 exam expires 12-31-2001.

IFLIP4DOC: I am now confused. You don't have to complete the whole track by that date?

RON: The upgrade test will not be available after 12/31/01. The rest of the tests will still be available.

ERIK ECKEL: You need to complete the entire track by 12-31-2001 or you can no longer call yourself an MCSE. The tests, as Ron says, will still be available. Basically, Microsoft is saying "Hey, if you want to migrate your NT skill set, here's one test you can take that will count as the four core tests." You'll still have the electives.

IFLIP4DOC: I thought you had to have your 2000 MSCE by December 2001. Ok, thanks. I think I got it.

RON: I suggest taking the other tests (Des AD, Des Net Inf, Des Secure) first because you can retake those. Then, take the upgrade last. But make sure you take the upgrade before 12/31/01.

ERIK ECKEL: That's a good strategy Ron promotes. Have you been reading my columns? I'm going to take the Pro and Server tests just to get a feel for the new format, test engine, etc.

IFLIP4DOC: Eckel, are you not current?

ERIK ECKEL: I'm currently a Windows NT 4.0 MCP+I, MCSE. My MCSE is good through December 31, 2001, along with 300,000 other MCSEs.

RON: I am current. I have taken all the exams. Believe me, the designing tests (case-based) are a whole new ball game.

ERIK ECKEL: They're a challenge.

RON: The Pro, Server, Implement AD, and Implement Net Inf are close to the old long form exams. The case-base designing tests are a lot like the SAT. They give you a scenario, and then ask ten questions about it. Then, they give you another scenario, and then another. There are four scenarios per test. I never thought 40 questions could take four hours, but I used all my time on all the tests.

ERIK ECKEL: Of course, Ron's been working with Win2K for what, a year-and-a-half?

IFLIP4DOC: So what’s going to be your strategy, Eric?

ERIK ECKEL: My strategy? I’ll take the four core tests and then take the Accelerated. I'm probably going to take 7 or 8. I'd recommend for most folks that they try to knock out the 70-240, though.

Here's my five-steps to exam success:

If you're trying to finish up an NT 4 MCSE for your qualifications to be eligible for the 70-240, check out TechRepublic's prep download:

IFLIP4DOC: Ron, have you only taken the 70-240?

RON: I am a teacher, so I had to take them all to advise my students on the relevance of the information in the book (without breaking my confidentiality agreement of course). Otherwise, I'd have done the 70-240 and skipped the core.

IFLIP4DOC: That’s what I thought.

RR: What's the most important piece of advice you'd give to someone headed to this test?

RON: Well, I wrote this book...I think it's pretty good. It’s Coriolis Exam Prep for 70-240. Then I’d bone up on the case studies. SAT type questions. Microsoft has many case studies (Jacksonhole, etc). That's what they're testing, the ability to provide a solution for a scenario.

ERIK ECKEL: I'd tell them to hit the bathroom before they enter the test! Then I'd say ensure you're familiar with all the exam objectives Microsoft lists on its site:

Of course, Ron, I assumed they'd already read the book.

Win2K’s AD
IFLIP4DOC: What would you say is the number one new item in 2000 that’s the most difficult to understand?

ERIK ECKEL: I’d say it’s Active Directory, hands down.

IFLIP4DOC: Could you summarize Active Directory in 500 words or less? Explain the concept anyway.

ERIK ECKEL: AD centralizes the organization and administration of virtually every resource on your network. How many words was that?

IFLIP4DOC: It was 13 words, but you had to add that last sentence.

ERIK ECKEL: Here's a good one page description:

Online resources
MODERATOR: We’ve hit the ten-minute warning everyone! Get those last minute questions, comments, and complaints in before the sand runs out on the last regularly scheduled Guild Meeting.

WELL: Can we take the exam online? Which Web site offers this course free of charge?

RON: has free online courses; visit your local office tomorrow.

ERIK ECKEL: Uh, no. Microsoft is going to require that you travel to a proctored testing facility.

RON: There are some sample tests out there, but none have been very realistic (, etc).

IFLIP4DOC: How about Do you think they are going to help this round?

ERIK ECKEL: Cramsession has excellent test prep documents. Alone, though, those crams won't get you through. As Ron said, scenario case studies are heavily used, and a cram can't really help as much as before. Experience is key.

IFLIP4DOC: Are you coming out with another book on case studies?

ERIK ECKEL: The information required for case studies is included in the text.

WELL: So none are free of charge?

RON: The test is free, but you have to get a voucher from Microsoft.

ERIK ECKEL: Neither the training nor the book is free.

IFLIP4DOC: Nor the software.

WELL: How do you get the voucher?

ERIK ECKEL: You can get the voucher here:

Windows Pro 2000
IFLIP4DOC: What’s the going price for Windows Pro 2000?

ERIK ECKEL: I paid $170, and it’s well worth it. It's a $99 upcharge on a laptop I'm considering purchasing.

IFLIP4DOC: Did you get any licenses?

ERIK ECKEL: Just one license.

RON: There is an evaluation CD for $9. It has Pro, Server, and Advanced. It’s only a 120-day evaluation, sorry.

WELL: Ron, how do you get that?

RON: We don't have time to find the link, but the search on Microsoft’s site is very good.

ERIK ECKEL: Here's a trial link:

Meeting adjourned
MODERATOR: Ok of the hour. Thanks to Ron and Erik for a very informative Guild Meeting this evening. Thanks also to everyone for their attendance and participation. Please stay tuned for our future Special Event Guild Meetings. Customarily, we select the name of an attendee and put the name in a hat for a drawing. So don’t anyone move. I'm happy to say we'll place Iflip4doc’s name in the hat! Congrats! Iflip!

IFLIP4DOC: Thanks.

ERIK ECKEL: But the moderator will need your name and address. What's the e-mail address, moderator?

MODERATOR: Send it to Just e-mail the information, and we'll get you entered! Thanks again to our speakers and participants. This Guild Meeting is adjourned.

ERIK ECKEL: Thanks for coming out, everyone. We appreciate your questions!

HAROLD966: Thank you speaker, and thanks to the moderator for all these meetings.

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