Last week I passed the Microsoft 70-412 exam for Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services with a score of 865/1000. This was the last exam I needed to complete in order to earn my MCSA 2012 certification. In this post I’ll cover the materials I studied to pass 70-412 and where I’ll be going from here.
This exam was far more challenging than the others because I had a lot less time to prepare in comparison to 70-410 and 70-411. I had already started doing some light study for 70-412 and then heard that in January 2014 the exam content would be changing to include 2012 R2 content. While I’m happy to learn the changes in R2 and have read over all the great changes it introduces, I wanted to see if I could finish off the exam before the end of the year as the change to R2 would mean all my study materials would essentially be out of date, and new books including the R2 content were months away at the time.
I then went to see when the last available date for the year was for me to take the exam, and was surprised to find that it was the 12th December. This was on the 28th November, so only 2 weeks until the last day I could take the exam. So I had to make a choice, try and rush through it two weeks and finish before the end of the year, or take it slow and wait until next year and learn the changes in the content.
I decided to go for it as the idea of finishing the MCSA 2012 before the end of the year sounded good to me, so I booked in the exam and got to work. I took 3 days off work prior to the exam, so along with the weekend I had 5 solid days of preparation immediately before it.
Update April 2015: I have updated the links to refer to the updated R2 materials, as this exam now covers the R2 version of Windows Server 2012.
To study for this exam I made use of the following materials:
- Pluralsight (formally Trainsignal) video course by Mike Hammond
- CBT Nuggets video course by James Conrad
- Infiniteskills video course by John Savill
- Training Guide Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 R2 Services (MCSA) (Microsoft Press Training Guide)
- Microsoft TechNet
I started to read through the book listed above at first on the 12th November with the intention of taking the exam early next year so I thought I had plenty of time at this point. I know some people can pass fine by just by watching videos however I prefer a good book as I find they able to provide a lot more in depth knowledge. The book was great and I’d recommend it to anyone else looking to pass, I’ve since reviewed it here.
I watched the Trainsignal videos next, and as the first video series for 70-412 as in my experience they seem to be a bit easier to take in, things are explained at a slower pace and you can take in the basics first. After that I watched the CBT Nuggets videos which as usual provided further technical information and a different perspective. Along the way I also read through TechNet articles online of any content I did not fully understand. TechNet is definitely worth using to look up all topics that you know will be in the exam, as it contains official information from Microsoft and outlines exactly how things work.
After watching and reading these materials once over the course of a week, I went through it all again within a few days before the exam. I prefer to go through everything twice as I find I take it in more and pick things up that I may have missed. While I was going through the content for the second time I came across the Infiniteskills material and watched that once, I was impressed as it covered a lot of technical aspects that the Pluralsight and CBT Nuggets videos did not.
Along the way I was taking down notes of anything I thought important or wanted to remember. I saved all of these in Google Docs so that I could access them anywhere. I then spent the day before the exam only reviewing these. I spent the day before this just reading over TechNet articles that were relevant to the exam topics. So in summary I found a good benefit by using such a wide range of study materials.
I’m not too sure what’s next other than a break until early next year. Obviously I plan to proceed to MCSE however I’m still tossing up between private cloud and server infrastructure, to be honest both sound good however I’ll probably go with private cloud as it sounds more interesting and is relevant to what I’d like to be doing.