Passed 70-271 today with a score of 899. I took the official MS course (2261b, 3 days) and studied with the textbook from that course as well as the Measure-Up practice test. I took two weeks to study between the class and taking the exam. I looked through this discussion group for general advice before I took the test (which was very helpful, thanks to all who posted here), so now I thought I'd add some advice of my own for future test-takers (without giving anything away from the exam, of course). The 2261b course was helpful, but more because of the instructor than the actual book. The book is one of the most vague pieces of instructional material I've ever read. If you just read it straight through, you'll only know half of what you probably should know. You'll learn a lot of concepts and become familiar with terminology, but you may not have the slightest idea of how to execute a specific task. Participating in all of the practice activities helps out a lot. However, I feel I would have failed if I had just used the course and textbook as my sole study materials. The instructor really hit hard the areas he felt were important for the exam, and he was right. The Measure-Up practice tests really are more difficult than the actual exam in this particular instance. I used the Measure-Up tests not to gauge what I knew, but to study. Every question you get wrong in practice is an opportunity to learn, and you'd be doing yourself a disservice not to read every explanation and follow up on missed questions until you understand why you missed them. If you come across a question and answer that you don't understand, google the topic. Often the search results will link you to the MS KB where you'll find more than enough info. It's true that you can memorize most Measure-Up questions within four or five tests, but if you actually know WHY the answer is what it is, you're in good shape. I learned quite a bit just from taking the practice tests; they will introduce you to scenarios that typical book study won't... you'll learn things you didn't know you needed to know in the first place. I got both my A+ and Network+ certifications before I took 70-271, and I think the Network+ certification in particular is a great help for this exam. It really shouldn't be any surprise that you need to know TCP/IP networks... they comprise every MS network and the internet, so understanding them is pretty much vital to taking exams like this. If you're not 100% comfortable with DNS, DHCP, ICMP utilities, and the general structure of domains, you will have problems, not just on this exam, but probably on most exams. Again, I don't think that should come as a shock to anyone. This is even mentioned in the list of objectives for the MCDST certification (around which, by the way, you should definitely base your study time). Do NOT EVER even THINK about using "study materials" from those shady sites that supposedly use actual exam questions. Aside from the obvious reason that you're cheating yourself out of learning the material and that you'll be a flop in whatever job you get from cheating your way through certification, these sites are just plain junk. I know because I was actually introduced to one by an *instructor* from a previous MS class (not 2261b) last summer, who flat out gave me .pdf files for several exams. At the time I had no idea MS considered them to be "cheating" and I browsed a couple of them (this was months before I even took my first CompTIA exam). Not only do these question lists not provide explanations, but some of the answers are just plain WRONG. The wording is poor, the grammar is poor, and the educational value is non-existant. If you're thinking about spending money on sites like this, DON'T. Use that money to get practice exams from a real site like MeasureUp and you'll actually learn something. (For my own good, I'm adding the disclaimer that I did not use the information from these sites in my own studying for this exam, or any other exam. I simply want to warn other people not to go anywhere near this garbage). Anyway... I'd strongly reccommend that anyone who hasn't worked in a DST position on XP Pro daily to just jump into the OS and start clicking on everything you see. Seriously. If you have a spare PC, install XP Pro and just go crazy with it. Open as many applets and options as you can find and just get familiar with what's there. Play around with folder options, permissions, synchronization options, accessibility options, everything in the control panel, IE settings, etc. The more you see, the more you will remember. It's one thing to read about how to do something in a book, but it's much better to actually carry out those instructions yourself so you actually know what you're doing. Instead of remembering steps, you'll remember what the menus and applets actually look like, and have a better understanding of how to accomplish tasks. I won't say either way about the exam, but I got several MeasureUp questions correct just by playing around with the Control Panel for awhile and remembering what I saw. I'd reccommend that people like me (just out of college but haven't worked in the field) do this daily. Know where every menu goes and what every button does, and you'll be more than ready. I was incredibly nervous about taking this exam. For Network+ and A+, I had also used PrepLogic practice tests, which are not available for 70-271, and only after using those as well as MeasureUp did I feel I was ready for the A+ and Network+ exams. Yet I passed 70-271 by a much bigger margin than I did those other exams. I wouldn't call 70-271 easy, but I think the list of objectives is small enough and precise enough that preparation isn't extremely difficult. Honestly, the easiest way to pass this exam is to know those objectives. MS is handing them to you on a silver platter; all you need to do is study what they tell you to study. Personally, I was worried because I wasn't sure what I needed to know, and how much of it I needed to know. The objectives list really helps out in that department. Hopefully this post will help others that are in the position I was before taking this exam. I was worried that I might fail before I started the exam, and even during the exam, but in the end I really had nothing to worry about because I put in enough time with the study materials and practice tests, and because I has truly familiarized myself with the OS. Do the same and I'm sure most anyone can pass easily like I did.