On top of what spachtkr said.
Get a laptop or PC with 8GB of RAM (16GB or more is better).
Get Oracle Virtualbox (it's free) or if you can afford it VMWare workstation 8 or 9.
Create your virtual servers and workstations. This will allow you to get hand-on experience.
I did my MCTIP using the Microsoft training kit, trainsignal and Transcender for Exam simulation.
With Microsoft exams, you need to give the answers that is close to what Microsoft will do.
I saw some questions that in real world do not make sense, but in order to pass the exam you need to always ask "what Microsoft would do?"
In addition with Virtualbox I was able to download FreeNAS to simulate NAS, I used Vyatta or Pfsense as virtual router to simulate different network subnets.
Of course you can set one of your Server 2K8 or Server2K12 to acte as router.
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