If you want to be a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MSCE) in the future, you need to pass certain core exams. These exams act as pre-requisites to prove candidates knowledge and understanding of Microsoft systems and processes. MSCE is available for two different product lines wherein each requires a different set of exam. For MCSE 2000, a candidate must pass six exams (4 operating system exams, 1 design exam and 2 electives). Similarly, MCSE 2003 requires candidates to pass six exams as well. The only difference is that candidates have to take 4 networking exams, one design exam and 1 elective.
One of the core requirements for both MSCE 2000 and MCSE 2003 is Exam 70-270 (Installing, Configuring, and Administering Microsoft Windows XP Professional). This exam became live on March 4, 2002 wherein candidates are tested with their familiarization to Windows XP as a desktop operating system, its installation and configuration. Passing this exam also means achieving Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) status.
Interested candidates can register and take the Exam 70-270 on any Thompson Prometric and Pearson VUE centers at US $125 for each attempt. Typically, there are 50 to 60 questions with exam type ranging from multiple-choice and drag and drop, to simulation-based. Exam type varies from time to time. To pass, candidates must obtain a score of 700 to be answered in 90 minutes. There is really no pre-requisite in taking the exam, though experience and training on a Windows XP system is definitely an advantage. You can also read books and other reference materials for review. There are also a lot of practice exams that you can find on the Internet to assess your readiness for the MCSE Exam 70-270.