Novell’s 51-635 Service and Support exam can be a tough one to master. The material is not overly complicated, but the tricky line of questioning will thoroughly test your knowledge and understanding of the material. In this article, I’ll tell you what to expect, so you won’t encounter the surprises I did.

After looking over the objectives, I decided to self-study for this exam. I picked up a copy of Exam Cram for Service and Support, unlocked the Exam Essentials test module, and began to read. From the start, I liked the book. It was easy to read and explained things in a straightforward manner. Topics covered in detail included basic hardware information, troubleshooting tools, such as the Micro House Technical Library, NetWare 5 installation, NDPS printing, queue-based printing, the Novell client software, network management, and server management.
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Effective use of Exam Essentials
It took me about five days to read the entire book, after which I began to use the Exam Essentials test modules. I could see immediately that it was important for me to be able to apply Novell’s troubleshooting methodology. We all have our own troubleshooting techniques that are second nature to us, but for this exam you must follow the prescribed steps in the order that Novell recommends. This can be frustrating, especially for a seasoned administrator.

It’s also a misconception that this exam is focused on hardware. The opposite is actually true. Hardware occupies only a portion of the exam, while printing, client software, server management, and troubleshooting tools are equally important. Novell offers a look at all the exam objectives on their site.

Test day
The day before taking the test, I received a pleasant surprise. Exam 51-635 is now adaptive. With my confidence high, I sat for the exam and scored 13 out of 15 questions correct. Despite my passing grade, I do not feel that this was an easy exam. The authors devised a crafty set of well-written questions. I highly recommend using some sort of practice tests to prepare. You don’t want the exam to be your first exposure to this tricky line of questioning.

Be sure you are prepared for questions relating to service patches, troubleshooting cable problems, duplex and spanning drives, NDPS printing, queue-based printing, troubleshooting hardware problems, the Support Connection CD and Web site, and the Novell client. Be prepared, too, for two-answer multiple-choice questions, fill in the blank, and drag-and-drop scenarios. One scary moment came when I received the same question twice. Be sure you always review the optional answers to such questions. While I knew that my choices were correct, it still made me nervous.

Do not underestimate the 635
Looking back, I can say without a doubt that I underestimated this exam. Since I have been doing support for a number of years, I thought that this would be a piece of cake. It is not. Learning how to do things differently is much harder than learning something for the first time. However, if you study the material well, use practice exams, and take your time, you will do fine. Good luck.

Steve Pittsley is a CNE and desktop analyst for a Milwaukee hospital. He enjoys playing drums, bowling, and most sports.

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