The IT marketplace has always demanded that its professionals be versatile, experienced, and well educated. Now there seems to be a new requirement to excelling in the field: Microsoft certification. The coveted MCSE title instantly boosts one’s marketability and carries great weight in IT circles.

For the IT neophyte, the path towards Microsoft certification seems arduous, to say the least. The first step in gaining MCSE status in Windows 2000 is passing Exam 70-210, “Installing, Configuring and Administering Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional.” To help in this quest, one can turn to the popular Exam Cram series of study guides from Coriolis.

MCSE Windows 2000 Professional Exam Cram: Exam 70-210

By: Dan Balter, Laurie Salmon, Dan Holme, and Todd Logan

Published by: Coriolis Group, 2000

ISBN: 1576107124

Available for $20.99 at

Let’s start at the very beginning
This book begins by laying out the basics of the Microsoft Certified Professional program and the MCSE Windows 2000 requirements. It includes how to register for the exam, what to expect, how to track your MCP status, and most importantly, how and what to study. In addition, the introduction provides a great self-assessment. You can honestly evaluate your readiness for this exam and tackling the MCSE in general.

Microsoft certification exams
Coriolis does a great job describing the ins and outs of the exam process. Test formats vary from exam to exam, but don’t fret—this book provides test-taking strategies for each format.

Digging into the book
The authors suggest reading this book from front to back since the topics build on one another. Chapters begin with a “hot list” of terms, tools, and techniques. Topics are covered in a straightforward fashion, and important concepts that are likely to appear on the exam are highlighted as “Exam Alerts.” Explanatory figures and reference tables are numerous and informative. Navigation through the material is relatively stress-free, with easily discernable headlines, bulleted points, and numbered steps. Like most study guides, practice questions are provided at the end of each chapter pertaining to the information just presented. Not only are answers included, but explanations are included as well, which is a great feature. Knowing the why behind the answer is invaluable.

Need to know more?
At the end of each chapter, additional resources on the subject matter just covered are listed. This includes links to both Microsoft and other third-party sources. The authors also rate these resources for quality and thoroughness.

Don’t forget the extras
In addition to all this, a sample test with answers is included. The glossary and index make finding specific topics a breeze. But Coriolis doesn’t stop there. A handy tear-out cheat sheet is attached to the front cover. It contains must-know information that should be memorized. The authors suggest dumping these facts and tips onto a piece of paper at the beginning of the exam for quick reference.

Usefulness in the real world
This book is definitely a great tool to be utilized in your MCSE preparation. The writing might not be captivating fiction, but what reference material is? What’s important, though, is that this book won’t put you to sleep.

The authors admit that this book shouldn’t be your only study guide. Even though it was designed to help you prepare for and pass the 70-210 exam, it should be used along with other available resources.

MCP Randy Arnold, who is currently pursuing MCSE status, concurs: “I found that the 210 exam was much harder than the 215 exam. I studied by using the ‘Exam Cram’ books, Troy Tech workbook, and the Transcender Pro Flash CD-Rom. That [combination] helped me to learn the material.”

But Arnold warns, “Learning the material is only half of the battle. I have found the exam to not only be a test of knowledge but also a test on taking Microsoft tests. I used many brain dumps that I found on the Internet, so about 30 to 40 percent of the questions on my exam, I had already read and/or studied.”

The final word
The $20.99 price tag on Coriolis’ MCSE Windows 2000 Professional Exam Cram: Exam 70-210 is money well spent. It’s a great tool when coupled with other resources and a great starting point. Before you know it, you’ll be well on your way towards becoming a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer.

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