Does MS have it where if you fail an exam you can't retake it until like 5-7 days later? I hate that crap. Cisco does and sometimes 5-7 days later puts ya right in the middle of project or something.
Only failed 2 Cisco exams...fairly lucky. Still don't like that rule.
Microsoft is 24 hours for the first time, and 5 days if you fail the second.
I actually failed the CCNA the first time. I took it the day before our section on the CCNA actually started. I missed passing by 1 question, just studying the CBT's and knowing how to config, and verifying the labs. The instructor asked me to take it to make sure the labs were the same, as Cisco likes to change the test pretty often, and we were getting close to that time frame.
I also only failed one Microsoft exam, one of the 2003 AD exams. I missed it by one question, but I think it was my 8th test, and my brain was fried at that point. I took a two day testing rest, then came back and took 2 a day for the next two days to catch up.
I agree with you, hands on will make all the difference in the world, before you go to a class, if you can get the software, load it, demo it, play around, etc. You'll be much better off. And I'd stay away from the fast paced classes, or any self study types, where they just provide you with documentation. You really want to get a Lab based class, where you'll actually build, break, and fix what you're working on.