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Interested in MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer)?

Below are the books that I read to prepare for their associated certification exams. Each book's cover photo is hyperlinked to a site where the book can be purchased. Do not purchase a book without checking to see that the book you're purchasing is up to date for the current exam.

Sybex i-Net+ Certification Textbook Linux+ In Depth: I was certainly not excited by the idea of reading yet another Linux book, but I was surprised to find that this book emphasized different commands and different priorities than what I'd come to expect. Fortunately, that prevented the book from being a bore and I actually learned a lot. This test was different for me, however, in that when I clicked the button to indicate that I'd finished the exam and was ready for scoring, I truly didn't know whether to expect that I'd passed or failed. I don't know if that's a reflection of my skills, or a reflection of the quality of the test, but I was relieved to find that I'd passed by a large margin. I'm still not quite sure what to make out of that.

Sybex i-Net+ Certification Textbook i-Net+ Study Guide: I picked this book up in the bookstore and browsed the quizzes at the end of a few chapters. I found myself thinking, "I could pass this test without even reading the book." Until then, I don't know that I even knew that an i-Net+ certification existed. But I thought that if I already knew the material, then I might as well have the cert, so I purchased the book. While at home, I read a few of the chapters and found that I really didn't need it. I took it back to the bookstore and passed the test with 882 out of 900 total points. The chapter on copyrights, trademarks, and patents helped, however.

Mike Meyers' Network+ Certification Textbook Network+ Certification: I found this text to be very light and easy to read. Mike Meyers has a gift for explaining theory without making your head explode. Somehow, however, I am uncomfortable with learning being quite that light, so I supplemented my education with the other textbook listed below from Exam Cram. However, if I had to choose between the two, it's a no brainer - I'd choose this book. Exam Cram books, while chalked full with information, presents the information in such a dry factual style, that it's a lot like reading a list, so if you're at only somewhat familiar with the material, you won't have many "memory pegs" (for lack of a better term) to hang all of that new information upon. Meyers quite adequately fills in the needed context for real learning to take place. More on passing Network+.

Exam Cram Network+ Certification Textbook Network+: This book was the perfect compliment to the Meyers book above. Exam Cram texts tend to be very low on fluff and very dense in facts. Personally, I think that they should be companion books to any more robust textbook for any certification (I would have used one for Linux+ if it hadn't been out of print). In fact, if you think that you are strong on the concepts already and you just want to brush up, Exam Cram would be the right choice in a book to use. They're small books with plenty of tests included to help you to weed out your trouble spots and give you confidence to take the real test. Plus, unlike the other textbooks mentioned so far, they're small which makes them easy to take anywhere. More on passing Network+.

Sybex A+ Certification Textbook A+ Complete: My experience with Sybex textbooks so far is that they're sort of a 1/2 way point between a Mike Meyer's textbook and an Exam Cram textbook. On the one hand, they provide much more context than an Exam Cram text would provide to build an understanding of the concepts involved, and on the other hand, unlike the Mike Meyers texts, they can make for great sedatives. If I was going to have to choose just one textbook to use to prepare for an exam, I'd choose the Sybex over Mike Meyers' books, because there seems to be much more information available in a Sybex text (I read a few chapters in the Sybex Network+ book while having coffee in a bookstore and discovered this to be the case). More on passing A+.

Exam Cram Network+ Certification Textbook A+ Certification Readiness Review: Now HERE'S a book that I found to be a COMPLETE PAIN. It's not that it wasn't a valuable read, it's just that I purchased the book about 36 hours before my (originally scheduled) test date, brought it home, tested myself with some of it's questions from its CD, and failed miserably. I thought that I knew everything that I needed to know to pass the test. I had plenty of experience building, configuring, and troubleshooting hardware and operating systems, I'd read the Sybex text above, I'd taken a bunch of tests in an Exam Cram sample test book, did well in all of them, and I failed this book's practice tests.... Why? I rescheduled my tests for about a week later so that I could read the Microsoft book and sort it out. A+ was my first certification testing experience and I was a bit concerned. In the end, and I'm sure that the Microsoft book helped in this, I scored quite high on at least one of the tests (it's always nice when the receptionist administering the test expresses dismay at what is, apparently, a quite high score). More on passing A+.

. Original Copyright, May 2004. All Rights Reserved.