Configuring Server 2008 AD – Traditional vs. Virtual Lab Exam

There has been some recent chatter on the web about the 83-640 exam, which is the “virtual lab” version of the 70-640 exam, TS: Windows Server 2008 Active Directory, Configuring. Both of these exams are available by Prometric (at least in CA), but 83-640 is not currently listed as an official exam option for the MCITP: Enterprise Administrator or for the MCITP: Server Administrator if you refer to the MCITP certification list. However, the exam details for 83-640 note that it DOES count toward them. It’s hard to say if or when this new version will officially replace the traditional exam.

I did have the chance to sit for the pilot of this test held in late 2008, when it was numbered as 70-113. While the test did have a multiple-choice section, the sections that were done in the virtual lab were actually fun. Yes, I thought the test was fun.

It really gives someone who works a lot with Windows a chance to showcase their skills without having to memorize the exact name of the tab or screen where a setting is located, as is often the case with the regular exam format. Instead, you worked on a fully functional server, making about 10 configuration changes in each test segment. I had access to everything I would have on a “real” server – I could click around to review all the tabs, settings and tools and even had access to the help files. Once all the tasks were completed, you close out that segment and move onto the next.

The experience was as close to a true work environment as you could possibly get for a test. We all know that on any given day, we may not know exactly where to go for what needs to be done, but we certainly know it when we see it. And browsing a few tabs or pressing F1 is part of the process to jog our memories and get us back on track.

If I was given the choice to take 70-640 or 83-640 to meet my certification requirements, I’d look to take the “virtual lab” version, hands down. I hope Microsoft looks to this new format for future exams.


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