This month, Microsoft Learning has updated the MCSA: Windows Server 2012 certification exams to include new exam questions that relate to additional IT Pro tasks and new capabilities in Windows Server 2012 R2.  If you’re currently preparing for MCSA certification, you’ll definitely want to check out the updated exam topics.

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To help you prepare for the new exam topics in each MCSA exam, this month I’ll be releasing a set of updated free Study Guides - one per exam each Friday - as part of an Early Experts “Free Guide Friday” series. Each Study Guide will include prescriptive resources and hands-on exercises to build your confidence with the new exam topics. 

Today’s Study Guide is focused on the new “R2” exam topics on Exam 70-411, Administering Windows Server 2012

1. Getting Started

If you’re just beginning to prep on Exam 70-411, be sure to check out our existing Early Experts study materials that target the original MCSA exam objectives. 

2. Build Your Lab

The new tested objectives in Exam 70-411 involve administration tasks that are best practiced in a real lab environment prior to attempting this exam.  Don’t have a lab? Build your own Windows Server 2012 R2 server lab in the cloud using a FREE Windows Azure subscription.  Your lab will be up and running in less time that it takes to download the server installation bits!

3. Target the New Exam Objectives

Before digging in deeply on the new exam objectives, download and review the updated Exam Objective Domains (OD) list for Exam 70-411.  This will help you identify, prioritize and target the specific areas in which you’ll need to spend time studying and preparing.

Note that, unlike the updated exam objectives for Exam 70-410 that I covered in last week’s Free Guide Friday study guide which primarily target new "R2" features, the updated exam objectives for Exam 70-411 target a combination of new tasks that apply to Windows Server 2012 as well as new capabilities introduced in Windows Server 2012 R2.  In each section below, we'll step through the study resources that I used when preparing for each updated exam objective area.

4. Deploy and Manage Server Images

Windows Deployment Services has been enhanced in Windows Server 2012 R2 to include a new PowerShell module for managing WDS images, driver packages and clients.  The R2 release also adds extended filtering for Driver Groups that supports filtering by Device Groups. Use the resources below to understand how to leverage these new capabilities.

5. Implement Patch Management

Exam 70-411 now also includes exam objectives related to supporting mixed-version Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) environments.  Review the resource below to understand the recommended migration approach to migrate older versions of WSUS to Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2012 R2.

6. Monitor Servers

The updated exam objectives now include the tasks associated with scheduling performance monitoring.  Use the resource below to learn how to perform this task.

7. Configure Distributed File System (DFS)

The updated exam objectives in this area include new tasks for cloning / recovering DFS databases and optimizing DFS replication in Windows Server 2012 R2.  Use the resources below to prepare for these exam objectives.

8. Configure File Server Resource Manager (FSRM)

The updated exam objectives in this area include new tasks for configuring file management in Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2.  Use the resources below to learn how to perform these tasks.

9. Configure VPN and Routing

Configuring the new Web Application Proxy in Windows Server 2012 R2 has been added to this set of exam objectives.  Use the resources below to prepare for this exam topic.

10. Configure Network Policy Server (NPS)

Exam objectives have been added for configuring a RADIUS server, RADIUS proxy and NPS templates.  Use the learning resources below to prepare for each of these topics.

11. Configure Service Authentication

An exam objective has been added for configuring virtual accounts for services.  Use the resource below to prepare for this topic area.

12. Maintain Active Directory

An exam objective has been added for configuring and restoring Active Directory objects using the AD Recycle Bin. Step through the process using the resource below.

13. Configure Account Policies

Prepare for the new exam objectives in this area by studying the tasks associated with configuring Kerberos Policy Settings.

14. Configure Group Policy Processing

New exam objectives have been added for the tasks involved with forcing group policy updates, managing slow-link processing and configuring Group Policy caching.

Need more? Check out the official training from our Learning Partners

After reviewing these resources, if you feel that you’ll need more assistance in preparing for Exam 70-411, you may be interested in attending the Microsoft Official Curriculum (MOC) class that is delivered world-wide by our network of authorized Learning Partners.  For preparing for Exam 70-411, the following class is recommended:

Do you have other study resources to share?

If you’ve found other study resources that were valuable to you in preparing for this exam, please feel free to share these additional resources in the Comments area below!