Chances are, every time you think about migrating your Windows NT 4.0 MCSE cert to the Win2K platform, you get sweaty palms thinking about that beast of an exam, 70-240. The accelerated Windows 2000 exam for MCPs is meant to enable you to bridge your skills from the old OS to the new one.

You’ve heard it’s going to be a bear. You’ve heard it will cover four separate Microsoft exams. Just the thought of the wide-ranging material it will include makes the most astute of IT professionals slightly uncomfortable. Anyone who tells you they have no anxiety over this mammoth exam is lying, if you ask me.

Well, take a deep breath, let it out, and relax. You won’t be taking this test for at least a year, maybe later.

Why not?

Think about it. You can either pony up $400 to take four Windows 2000 tests that will be significantly tougher than those you experienced in the NT 4 track, or you can pass the 70-240 for free.

However, there is one mistake you won’t want to make. The logical step is to take the accelerated exam first. Get the basics under your belt and move on to the easy ones, right?

Forget it. That’s no longer the strategy.

I recommend you get your elective exams out of the way first. Give your brave IT colleagues an opportunity to take the 70-240 exam first and tell you all about it. While I don’t advocate that they reveal the questions they see in the exam, you can gain critical information from others.

For starters, how long is the thing? Will you have 20 questions in an adaptive format? Probably not. Will you have 90 standard test questions? Who knows?

Other important information will leak out. Are there many MMC simulations? Will you need to know the intricacies of RAS server configurations? Should you brush up on your Exchange skills so you’re familiar with any Exchange/Active Directory replication questions?

Choose your sources wisely
Let me warn you again, though, against relying upon brain dumps for information on this exam. Don’t do it. Often, the information found on such Web sites is inaccurate.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t cozy up to some practice tests. Au contraire. Several companies will be releasing exam simulations soon, and I believe such tools are worth your investment.

Instead of brain dumps, I’m recommending that you let professional communication take its proper course. Even Microsoft itself will provide information regarding the test on its site. Give yourself time to learn what you’re really dealing with before you commit your single shot.

Further, sit for at least two Windows 2000 exams before you try your hand at “the big one.” If you do, you’ll be back in the swing of the Microsoft test-taking experience by the time you get to the toughest of them all. Odds are, you may not have hit a testing center for a while, and you don’t want to have to reacquaint yourself with such facilities when so much is on the line.

Plus, taking Win2K electives before you sit for the 70-240 will allow you to acclimate yourself to any changes with Microsoft’s test engine. After all, the last place you want to experience surprises is on the accelerated exam.

Erik Eckel MCP+I, MCSE is editor-in-chief of IT communities for TechRepublic. He’s gone seven-for-seven on Microsoft exams, and he’s posted an almost identical record against TechRepublic Web development engineers in foosball, thank-you-very-much.

If you’d like to share your opinion, please post a comment below or send the editor an e-mail.