Ken, in my opinion the exam wasn't that hard. But maybe i was just lucky or well prepared ;) But because i wasn't sure how hard it would be, i decided to start at the beginning, i.e. with this exam and not with the LPIC-1 exam.
Another interesting thing: you will notice that a part of the linux essentials course is repeated within the LPIC-1 course, so when studying for the linux essentials exam, you are actually studying a bit for the LPIC-1 already.
The way i studied: I took notes of all the things i didn't yet knew about during the video courses and used this as my study guide, together with the Practice exam, the study guide in the downloads section and the note cards.
I can tell you that the course at linux academy covers the exam very well, so your subscription here should be sufficient ;-)