Thursday, 4 February 2016

10 tips to pass Microsoft’s MCSA 70-411 exam

 By Sarah Morgan


If you’re considering achieving the MCSA Windows Server 2012 certification, you’ll need to pass 3 exams 70-410, 70-411 and 70-412. Having launched our “10 tips to pass Microsoft’s MCSA 70-410 exam” today we focus on exam 70-411: Administering Windows Server 2012. This exam proves your knowledge and skills in implementation and management of Microsoft Windows Server 2012’s components like Active Directory domain services, Group Policy, Remote Access and Update Management.

The 70-411 exam builds upon the fundamental skills demonstrated in the 70-410 exam and proves you can manage the majority of Windows Server 2012’s functions. Remember, you are required to pass all three exams before you are MCSA: Windows Server 2012 certified.

We’ve researched and compiled 10 tips that will help you get you the skills and knowledge to pass the second Microsoft MCSA: Windows Server 2012 certification exam, 70-411.

1. Use the Microsoft Virtual Academy


Microsoft’s Virtual Academy is one of the most useful resources Microsoft provides. Watch videos from Microsoft experts, giving you in-depth training and guidance on core Microsoft technologies. There are also online courses aligned to Microsoft exams. 

You can find resources for the MCSA: 70-411 exam here. This takes you through two substantial videos with all the insight into the details of the overview of the exam aims and contents. These videos also point you to, and talk you through the 70-411 exam page on the Microsoft Learning website. 

I’d recommend using the Microsoft Virtual Academy to prepare you for your studies. Once you know more about what you’ll be facing, you’ll be better placed to begin your studying and exam preparation.  

2. Use a revision guide


A revision guide is a must-have for any exam. It’ll guide you through your studies, highlighting which topics require more focus than others. Study guides often define terms you may not understand and explain theory with a high level of detail.

Don’t mess around searching for study guides, here’s our top recommendations. Like the 70-410 exam before it, Microsoft have a really useful official 70-411 exam revision guide called, “Exam Ref 70-411 Administering Windows Server 2012 R2 (MCSA)”. If you used Microsoft’s guide for the 70-410, this will continue nicely where the last left off, using a similar style. It is well structured to help you focus on each exam objective and also presents real-world scenarios to put your knowledge into context. And finally, published from Microsoft, you can trust that it contains all the information you need for the exam.

You can find it on Amazon here. The ISBN is 978-0735684799.

An alternative 70-411 book is William Panek’s MCSA Windows Server 2012 R2 Complete Study Guide: Exams 70-410, 70-411, 70-412. It comes with weight as it’s written by one of Microsoft’s MVPs and covers all the topics in all three of the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 certification exams. This goes into extensive detail to improve your knowledge and prepare you for the 70-411 exam. Other features include hands-on exercises, practice exam questions, electronic flashcards and over two hours of video content. All of this creates a revision guide package that is perfect at improving your Windows Server 2012 knowledge in all the areas in the three exams.

You can find it on Amazon here. The ISBN is 978-1118859919.

3. Join a forum


Sharing your Microsoft 70-411 exam queries and experiences can help you gain ideas and learn from others in the same position as yourself. Doing this in an online forum is easy, can be a well-earned break from revision and may surprise you in the amount of questions it answers. Take each answer with a pinch of salt – not everyone is an expert.

One of the best for Microsoft exams is TechNet’s forums. You can search for specific exam related questions, or look up general technology related queries. You could pose a direct question yourself, or use an existing thread with many responses and answers already available. There are many ways in which an online forum could be helpful to your 70-411 exam studies.

To point you in the right direction, here is a link to the Windows Server 2012 section and a link to the MCSA exams section.

4. Take a practice test

Practice tests are the closest you can get to a real exam. They’re designed to replicate the same question style and cover the same topics as the actual exam. This allows you to identify areas that may need more revision.

The best place to go for Microsoft practice exams is MeasureUp. They’re Microsoft official and have ample resources for all Microsoft exams. You can find the 70-411 practice exam package here, which contains 163 questions in total. Its features include a timed certification mode that mimics an exam scenario, a study mode that walks you through all topics and an instant score and break-down of how you’ve done to see where you need to improve.

You can buy the package for £79 or download 60 and 30 day editions costing £72 and £66 respectively.

5. Take a course


Sit down and learn from experts in the field, dedicated to building your Windows Server 2012 skills and knowledge putting you in the best position to pass your 70-411 exam. They get you hands-on with Windows Server 2012, whilst taking you step by step through the courseware. You’re also with like-minded students - who are a resource in themselves, as they tackle the same obstacles alongside you.

Firebrand offer a 9 day accelerated Microsoft MCSA: Windows Server 2012 R2 course which covers all three exams, of course including the 70-411. 

There’s no better way to help you get certified than taking time out to study and giving it 100% of your time and attention, especially when you combine a course with some of our other tips and resources.

6. Avoid brain dumps


It is important to remember that if found using brain dumps, you will be disqualified from exams. They are a false economy, teaching you to cheat in order to pass, rather than focusing on building the skills and knowledge required to pass. Make sure you steer clear of 70-411 brain dumps. They’re not a good way to invest your learning efforts. Even if you pass, you’ll not have learned the skills the certification aims to teach you, meaning you won’t be able to put these into practice in your job. 

7. Download a trial version of the software


You can get hands-on with a trial version of Windows Server 2012. Put your knowledge into practice, reinforcing your learning of administering Windows Server 2012. Using all the Windows Server 2012 features, you’ll discover things you didn’t in your studies, that’ll be handy in your exam.

To make it more relevant, I’d recommend combining your exploration of the trial version with a study guide and the exam objectives. This’ll help you focus on the commands, switches and parameters used for Windows Server 2012 administration.



8. Join a study group


Study groups are useful for connecting with other students sitting the 70-411 exam. Learn from how others are tackling their studies. They may have tips that could be useful to your study method. Collaboration is always helpful when it comes to studying.

One of the biggest study groups for Microsoft certifications can be found on the Born to Learn blog. Here is the link to the MCSA: 70-411 exam study group. This is where you can find an extensive list of resources to refer to, as well as forums and discussions where you can interact with others.


9. Do some practice labs


If you’re looking to try out Windows Server 2012, but don’t yet feel confident enough to attempt the practices in the 70-411 exam, a practice lab is for you. It is based around guided learning so you can take on the tasks in a safe environment, removing the danger of anything going badly wrong.

MeasureUp’s 70-411 practice lab costs £98, but completing the lab means you’ll have done all the skills the 70-411 exam covers. There’s 16 hours of material and you’re able to go through it at your own pace. If you like to learn practically, this could be invaluable preparation. 

You may already be aware of TechNet’s 31 Windows Server 2012 R2 virtual labs. Although there isn’t one specifically for the 70-411 exam, they are all free and many of these cover topics that overlap with 70-411 exam content – like this one on configuring and managing servers.


10. Download a study app


Revision for your 70-411 exam has not escaped the modern world of the smartphone. Study apps have 70-411 exam resources to help you revise at your convenience. They do not have the extensive resources that a study guide can give you, but are fantastic for revising on the go, or when you’re away from home or the office. The three below are some of the best currently available and all have specific 70-411 sections:

  • Transcender
    • A highly customisable app allowing you to tailor your studying and has a setting to replicate the exam environment and style of questions.
  • uCertify
    • One of the most extensive libraries of practice questions plus a well-structured study guide to assist you through your exam practice.
  • Pass-Guaranteed
    • Another app with a collection of outstanding practice questions. This is because you can customise the type of questions you face, to vary your exam practice.
 About the Author:        
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.