I've read the books and completed the entire bank of practice test questions. The book was insultingly easy. That's the problem with the Microsoft Certified materials...they're great when taught by an instructor, but kind of crappy for self-study. I've noticed that before, and it's kind of disturbing how the book sounds so stupid easy and the tests are so difficult.
The practice tests, though, are almost like the real thing. The questions are similarly tough, presented in the same format, and have plenty of "gotchas" like the actual certification exam. Not really trick questions per se, but one or two words buried in the middle of a page of text that completely change the way that you'd solve the problem. And I remember them being pretty tough in the past. It's been so long since I've taken these tests, and so much has happened since then (Europe, Ralph, etc.) that I don't remember any of the questions nor the answers, so that's not a factor. But this time I found them surprisingly easy. My score over 151 questions was 84%. Not too bad. I was getting upper-seventies for the most part last time, though I did break into the 80's once or twice. I suppose the change is that most of the questions that I had to think about and really work for last time came to me instantly this time - I simply knew the material better. Not as much guesswork.
Let's just hope that this translates into another passing score. I've got to get this albatross off from around my neck. I know I can do this stuff, as evidinced by me taking one of my boss's tests and keeping my head above water. But this one exam has kicked my ass before. And this was the exam which, on the retake, crashed the computer and ruined all that effort. And this is one of the two tests that have completely changed its format in the past month...not only is it unfamilliar, but it may still have the bugs that all new Microsoft products are notorious for. And I've gotta bust out with a good score to show my coworkers that I am as badass as I always say I am.
In short, I just got to do this. Tomorrow at 1:00pm....Showtime.