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Q. I am going to begin my MCSE, I was wondering if it's better to take the A+/Network+ as electives for the MCSE so that once you get your MCSE on your resume you can post more certifications instead of just your MCSE? What do you recommend as study guides and practice tests? Is the MSPRESS book core kit the best thing for the exams, I want to buy some books. offers a complete MCSE 2000 and 2003 bundle for $99 is it worth it?


A. Your type of question has been asked many times by people starting their MCSE, and the options can certainly be overwhelming.

My opinion is that if you don't already have A+ and Network+, then go for Security+ (everything revelant of course) as it's usually more flexible for the MS Track if you're just trying to keep costs down and are trying to keep the number of exams down to a minimum for your MCSE.

As usual, MSPress for MS exams is #1 as far as books go. I've tried the MCSE 2003 Examblaster test prep on and find they are worth what you pay, but the screens can be hard to read on higher resolutions. There are many options out there some worth more than others, but Examblaster is a good choice for a budget and they'll get the job done.

If you don't have experience yet, then videos like TrainSignal are a very good starting point. These take you through the basics and we like them because they are affordable, although the flow from one video to the next needs work. But after all, it isn't a Learnkey that costs 6 times as much or more. also offers all video access for $39.95 for three months which worked well for us.

You didn't say which MCSE track you're going for, 2000 or 2003, but 2000 is easier and will get your foot in the door. Just keep in mind, a lot of jobs in the US requires that you have A+ for entry level and help desk jobs. If you already have sufficient mid level experience, then get A+ if you feel like doing it, but it's not required.

That's why planning is critical depending on what your requirements are. A+ and Network+ seems to have more use in the US than it does for our overseas counterparts. It all depends on your objectives and the prospective employers desires and the money you want to spend getting to your end result.

Always remember, certifications themselves don't necessary get you the job. You need anything that will help you separate yourself from another candidate favorably such as a varied work experience. Those that have become certified, self studied or not, will tell you that through your own hard will you'll learn and continue to learn throughout your IT career. When you stop learning, its time for you to re-evaluate your career path because it's no likely you'll stay in IT for very long.

-MCSE Resources


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