In this article you will learn the basic mechanics of the 70-640 (TS: Windows Server 2008 Active Directory, Configuring) Microsoft certification exam.
Latest posts by Timothy Warner (see all)

In an earlier 4sysops blog post I outlined for you how the latest generation of Microsoft certifications work, paying particular attention to the Windows Server 2008 MCTS and MCITP titles.

In this post I would like to introduce you formally to what I suggest should be your first exam in your MCITP: Server Administrator journey: Exam 70-640, TS: Windows Server 2008 Active Directory, Configuring.

Passing this exam will grant you the following:

  • The Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) title
  • An Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) ID
  • Access to the MCP secure site
  • A terrific sense of accomplishment

Without further ado, let me give you the low-down on exactly what this exam is, how it works, and how you can pass it with the least amount of effort.

What is Exam 70-640?

I would define Exam 70-640 as your basic, “garden variety” Windows Server 2008 certification exam. This is a computer-based test that consists of the following attributes:

  • Number of questions: approximately 65
  • Time limit: approximately 3 hours
  • Passing score: 700/1000 (70%)
  • Question types: Multiple-choice, no simulations

Microsoft publishes the 70-640 exam blueprint on their Microsoft Learning Web site. Rather than simply reprint that blueprint in its entirety, allow me instead to give you only the top-level exam domains along with their relative weightings:

  1. Configuring Domain Name System (DNS) for Active Directory (17%)
  2. Configuring the Active Directory infrastructure (17 percent)
  3. Configuring Active Directory Roles and Services (14 percent)
  4. Creating and maintaining Active Directory objects (18 percent)
  5. Maintaining the Active Directory environment (18 percent)
  6. Configuring Active Directory Certificate Services (15 percent)

If you are a math geek like me you probably observed that the above domain weightings add up to 99 and not 100 percent. What’s up with that? My educated guess is that Microsoft counts its ungraded “experimental questions” as the remaining one percent of the test.

No, Microsoft will not let you know which items are graded and which ones are ungraded. My best advice to you is to give every single question on the test equal consideration.

The R2 issue

What threw all of us in the IT certification community for a loop about a year ago was Microsoft’s decision to sprinkle new questions on Windows Server 2008 R2 into all of the MCITP certification exams.

The problems with this decision were two-fold:

  • Microsoft did a very poor job of announcing this change
  • The vast majority of study material on the market predated this change, leading exam certification candidates into a false sense of security that they knew all the material

To my mind, there is not much that is worse than sitting down to a certification exam after months of study, only to see questions dealing with subject matter you had no idea was covered.

Therefore, please be double-dutch advised:

The 70-640 exam includes coverage of R2-specific features. Be certain to include this material in your exam study plan.

How to register

To register to take the 70-640 exam, you need to purchase an exam voucher and schedule your appointment through Prometric. As of this writing in December 2011, each exam attempt costs $150 USD.

Make sure that you periodically check the Microsoft Learning Web site because Microsoft offers exam discounts and related offers fairly regularly.

Also, you should consider subscribing via RSS to the Microsoft Born to Learn blog. The Microsoft cert team posts announcements and other informational tidbits that we in the cert community can benefit from greatly.


The next several blog posts I put up here at 4sysops will offer you a detailed analysis of representative exam questions from the 70-640 test. Of course, I will not break my (and every test-taker’s) non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with Microsoft and use so-called “braindumps.” Instead, I will craft original, realistic practice questions that give you the “flavor” of the real exam items.

In the next part I will cover the Configuring DNS zones objective.

  1. Avatar
    Marc 12 years ago

    I just came across your blog for another issue and saw this post. I’m currently looking at taking the SA courses and thought that I should take the 70-646 course first because it deals with configuring, managing, and maintaining Server 2008 and then follow up with the Active Directory (70-640) and finally the Networking Infrastructure (70-642) course last. Are you advising against this? I’m still relatively new to the Server Administrator role and thought this would be a good opportunity for me to dive right in. I’m not so much as concerned with earning certifications as I am with actually learning the material.

  2. Avatar
    Tim Warner 12 years ago

    Hi Marc,

    The 646 is a PRO-level cert, and you don’t earn the SA credential until you have passed the prerequisite Technology Specialist (TS) exams.

    The main reason why I advise you start with the TS exams is to give you some “wins” as you move toward the SA. In other words, as soon as you pass your first TS test, you become an MCTS, are given an MCP ID, access to the MCP private site, etc.

    I hope this helps.


  3. Avatar
    Anonymous 12 years ago

    Excellent info Tim… Thanks!

  4. Avatar
    Tim Warner 12 years ago

    Anon: You are welcome! I’m glad you enjoy the series. -Tim

  5. Avatar
    Joan 11 years ago

    Tim-you are wonderful! Oct.2012-I have done mcse, some cisco courses, but never certified–never found a permanent job after spending tons of money and time. I have a masters in IT, as well. Bottom line, I have been away from the industry for over 8 yrs. Looking to re-enter the industry, and last night someone advised Sharepoint Administration would pay well and serve me well to retirement (I’m OverTheHill).
    So my ? to you-does this info you write here still hold to this date?
    because I don’t test well and would always fail by 4 pts. or so. So the easier testing appeals to me, because I think Microsoft robs people.

  6. Avatar
    Tim Warner 11 years ago

    Joan, you made my day with your comment–thanks! As you know, technology and certification move at the speed of light. No, the content of this blog post isn’t the most current anymore. If you wanted to pursue a Microsoft IT Pro credential, then I suggest you target the Windows Server 2012/Windows 8 certs. Check out for details. Also, you have to remember that to IT vendors like Microsoft and Cisco, certification is a for-profit venture. They don’t really care who gets certified–they want people to fork over hundreds and thousands of dollars in cert-prep products and exam registrations. Best of life to you, Tim

  7. Avatar

    Where can I find the remaining parts of the exam prep? There are only first 2 sections covered here.

    thank you in advance.

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