Novell has created very tough, yet straightforward exams for NDS design and implementation. To prepare you for exams 050-634 and 050-834, Novell offers Course 575. As of this writing, the 634 exam I took was still in traditional format. It provided one hour and 45 minutes to complete 63 questions. The minimum passing score was 656.

The exam, which counts toward CNE and CNI certification, covered such topics as preparing for an NDS design, designing an NDS tree, determining a partition and replica strategy, planning a time synchronization strategy, planning the user environment, and implementing an NDS design. Since there were fewer topics than in other exams, each was covered in greater depth.
According to Novell, here are the objectives covered in Course 575—a course designed to prepare for CNE exam 050-634 and CNI exam 050-834:

  • Describe why careful NDS design is important to the success of a network.
  • Explain the roles needed to complete an NDS design.
  • Explain the major tasks and functions involved in an NDS design cycle.
  • Identify the importance of creating an effective naming standards document.
  • Identify design rules when designing the upper layers of an NDS tree.
  • Identify key issues when drafting the lower layers of an NDS tree.
  • Finalize the design of the lower layers of an NDS tree.
  • Explain NDS partitioning and replication.
  • Determine a partition and replica strategy.
  • Explain time synchronization.
  • Explain how NetWare communicates time across the network.
  • Plan a time synchronization strategy for a network.
  • Complete a users’ accessibility needs-analysis document.
  • Complete an accessibility guidelines document.
  • Complete an administrative strategies document.
  • Merge NDS trees.
  • Create, modify, and manage partitions and replicas.
  • Create or modify upper and lower levels of the NDS tree.
  • Implement a user environment plan.

While the exam proved to be thorough, there were no surprise questions. Everything that was on the exam was covered in the official course materials.

However, beware tricky questions. A few asked me to pick the best answer of four displayed. Two of the answers were correct, but one applied to the situation better than the other.

You should definitely take your time with this (and other) exams. Read each question thoroughly, as many will approach the same solution in a similar manner, but subtleties make the difference. I read many questions several times. You have almost two hours, so don’t be afraid to use all the time allotted.

Be sure you’re strong on the methods and procedures used to partition and replicate the NDS database. A few questions dealt with subordinate references, and some were related to the defaults for placing replicas on servers. For me, these were the toughest and trickiest questions on the exam.

You should also be very familiar with time synchronization. Know how to implement time synchronization in an IP or mixed IP/IPX environment. Understand the time synchronization defaults, as well as the different methods you can use to synchronize network time.

Get some help
I used the Exam Essentials practice test to prepare for this exam. It provided me with a very accurate idea of what to expect on the test.

There were a number of questions on the simulation exam that were almost identical to actual test questions. I recommend that you study the course materials and become very familiar with all the concepts. Only after you’ve done that should you reach for the practice tests.

If you’ve studied the material and you’re scoring in the 90s on the practice tests, you should do well on the actual exam. As with all certification exams, if you know and understand the material, the exam should be a breeze.

Good luck!

Steven Pittsley is a desktop analyst for a Milwaukee hospital. He and his wife have three children. Steven enjoys playing drums, bowling, and other sports.

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