For a long time, Microsoft certification was relatively straightforward to pass.
Once Microsoft had done their homework however, they realised that the bar was set too low, and with the release of the MCSE 2003 certification path, a new breed of exam was presented to those willing and brave enough to attempt it.
The MCSE (or Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) 2003 comprised of the following 7 modules;
- Core networking systems exams: These were made up from four exams covering various topics around Windows Server 2003. Windows 2003 obviously being the central operating system for this particular certification path.
- Client OS exam: At one point, you could take this solitary exam covering either Windows 2000, Windows XP or the most recent client operating system, Windows XP. Windows 2000 is no longer a supported operating system, therefore the only ones available are Windows XP and Windows Vista.
- Design exam: The design exam was where many people taking the exam (including me) fell down on the first attempt. Styled and presented completely differently from the other MCSE exams, the design exam offered a case study scenario to the student which was then followed by various multiple choice questions with real world scenarios. This style of questioning was and still is a solid “acid test” as to whether the exam taker had done their homework in the form of studying and executing lab assignments correctly. It would be nearly impossible for someone without real world experience of Microsoft systems to pass this exam on their first attempt.
- Elective exam: Students were offered a choice of over 40 different exams, namely elective exams to complete their tally of 7 certifications to obtain their full MCSE certification. These ranged from SQL server to Microsoft Exchange to the more obscure and less common Microsoft Internet Security and Acceleration(ISA) exam.
This certification path is by no means easy to anyone, when I undertook it myself I was riding on 10 years of real world client and server operating system support and I struggled with the degree of complexity involved in 3 of the exams that I took.
Once I had achieved my MCSE 2003 certification though, I was over the moon. just over 2 years of hard study and working extra hours on the simulators at various client sites allowed me to obtain what many have failed to in the past.
If you are looking at taking this exam path then I wish you good luck, put the time in that’s required and you will achieve your goal!