The MCSE 2003 track is significantly different from prior years. That is what motivated me to finally start getting the certs. I have 11 years of experience, by the way. Microsoft Exchange 2003 (70-284) is most relevant to my line of work, so I passed that one first. Other [people] may start with XP (70-270) or Windows Server 2003 (70-290), but that did not have immediate value to me.
On the other hand, the Exchange 2003 exam objectives include a fairly in-depth measurement of Active Directory design and cluster management skills in addition to core Exchange. I passed the test, but the questions that were asked of me were very much like typical real-world problems that I am faced with daily. Those who can pass 70-284 can solve at least 14 e-mail down scenarios (about 16 of my questions were on product knowledge) in under 2 hours.
It is that degree of difficulty in achieving this certification that makes me feel very confident about my ability to solve a lot of Exchange 2003 challenges. In fact, several scenarios were almost verbatim representations of what I had encountered just days prior.
If other exams that are on the 2003 track are equally as challenging, then I think the MCSE 2003+Messaging is very much worth achieving and I will do so.
Leonid S. Knyshov
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This was first published in August 2005