The hardest topics on the Windows Server MCSA exams are....

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When you're studying for an IT certification exam, it can be hard to know where to focus your energy. You might be tempted to listen to your peers who have already sat for the exam, but be cautious. For the majority of IT certifications exams, the questions vary from person to person. So, while someone might get what feels like a million (yikes!) PowerShell questions on the Windows Server 2012 Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) exams, someone else may only see it mentioned once or twice. The bottom line is this: You need to be up to speed on all the exam objectives because you never know what you're going to get. Be careful of people who tell you that certain topics are covered more heavily than others. Everybody's exam is different. Vendors don't expect you to know everything about every topic, but you need at least have a base-level understanding of them all.

This was the advice Microsoft MVPs (and TrainSignal instructors) Michael Bender and Ed Liberman gave during a webinar they hosted in June about preparing for the Windows Server MCSA exams. The MCSA is one of the top in-demand certifications for 2013, and it's one of the best ways to show you have intermediate knowledge of key Microsoft technologies.

We also polled more than 300 people who recently sat for the MCSA to ask them for study tips and more. In response to the question, "Of all the topics covered on the exams, which did you find the hardest?" the following responses were the most common when it comes to the Windows Server exams. Again, take this list for what it is (a guide to what some of the more challenging topics might be for you) vs. what it's not (a free pass to only study these topics and nothing else).

  • Active Directory
  • IPv6
  • Networking
  • Group Policy
  • Hyper-V
  • PowerShell
  • DirectAccess
  • Dynamic Access Control
  • Certificates

We featured more insights from the survey in the infographic below, so you can save it for when you're ready to start studying for the MCSA. No matter what cert you're currently pursuing, best of luck!

MCSA study tips

What does it take to conquer the MCSA? - An infographic by the team at TrainSignal

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Dana Gagnon

Dana Gagnon is the Director of Branded Content at Pluralsight. After working for years in Chicago media, she joined the team in 2012 to continue bringing quality news, tips and more to Pluralsight's audience. Find her @ChicagoDana