Not everyone consumes information in the same exact way.

So whenever I hear about people that say “here’s how you should study” it bothers me because they aren’t taking the time to know what works best for the individual.

That’s how I shared my MCM prep tips last week; I told you what worked for me. I have no idea if they will work for you.

What occurred to me this past weekend was that there is a list of things I didn’t do for the MCM lab exam. In some ways this list may be even more important than the list of things I did do! So that’s what I wanted to do for you here today.

Here’s my list of things I didn’t do for the MCM lab exam.

Don’t read all of the books online, but know your BOL

I already told you what I did read. You will find some MSDN links in those materials, sure. But what I didn’t do was read all of the books online (BOL). I did, however, reference the BOL frequently while prepping. I knew that the lab allows for you to use BOL so I made sure I was familiar with how to quickly search through and find pertinent details. Spend a few minutes refreshing your BOL searching skills, it will help. However, you won’t pass the lab by reading the BOL alone.

Don’t try to get every answer

You get five and a half hours to answer all the scenarios in the exam. There is no partial credit for any question. You must satisfy all the requirements for each scenario. Rather than try to answer the questions in the order they were given what I did instead was to read through all of the scenarios and answer the ones I felt most comfortable with right away. If I didn’t have time for one or two of the scenarios at the end, that’s fine. No need to waste any time on something that was likely to result in no points scored or to consume so much time you miss points on the ones you know really well.

Focus on what you know well, and get those scenarios done first.

Don’t read every possible blog post on the subject

I had my reading list, and my videos. I stuck with those. It’s easy to get sucked into thinking that you need to read everything possible on a particular topic. You don’t. You can focus on MSDN, Technet, and the handful of community bloggers already listed. Sometimes less is more. If you try to consume too much information, especially from unknown sources, you may find yourself with conflicting details. When that happens you end up spending more time trying to find “the truth”, when you could have had the truth all along.

I found it much more valuable to use articles as a starting point and then find ways to put my hands on the subject matter. For example, I can read about peer-to-peer replication, but it’s better if I take the time to configure P2P, run a workload, let something break, and try to fix.

Don’t panic

Don’t bother. This isnt life or death. It’s an exam. It doesn’t define who you are as a person. Passing the exam doesn’t make you immediately better at your job. In fact, most folks at your job have no idea what an MCM even means. Passing won’t result in people handing you truckloads of cash. It just means you could pass an exam, that’s it.

So don’t panic. Don’t stress out. If anything, show up ready to kick ass. Expect the unexpected. Be ready to yell at the screen and say things like “seriously? Is that all you’ve got?”

If you show up scared, you will waste time and energy trying to reach a comfort level. So show up ready to win. If you prepare yourself mentally, physically, and emotionally for this exam you will do very well.

Don’t prepare alone

Find a study partner. Walk through topics. Take turns teaching each other. If you really want to learn something, then take the time to teach it to others.

Since passing the exam I have had more than a handful of people ask me for study tips. I’ve written before about the things I did that worked well for me. I thought it was important to also stress the things I didn’t do for the lab exam, which I put into this post. Not panicking, not trying to answer everything, and not trying to study alone are three of the most important things you can do to help prepare yourself for the lab.