The A+ certification is a bit of a strange situation for me. First, as a “network guy” I’ve always looked at the A+ certification as something that would be desirable for desktop support personnel. Personally, I never really had any desire to get the A+ certification for the reason I just mentioned as well as me viewing it as a very entry-level certification. However, I ended up in a situation where I needed to take the Cisco Academy IT Hardware Essentials course as part of my Associates Degree program. That course maps to the A+ objectives and discount exam vouchers are provided after completion. Basically, I will be able to take each exam for about $72 for a total of $144 for the A+ certification. The normal pricing would have been $169 per exam for a total of $338. At the latter price, I probably would have forgone the exams and focused on other certifications. However, the discounted price on top of the fact that I have been going over all the material in class for the last several months makes it too attractive to pass up.
I’ve built and maintained PCs since 1987 so I have a LOT of real world experience in this area. However, I switched to Mac in 2005 and thus Windows XP was the last version of Windows I used so I know very little about Vista and Windows 7. Therefore, I need to do some studying in those areas to prepare for the exam. I’ve decided to read two books that I have already purchased. (links to books here) The first is Exam Cram by David L. Prowse and the second is 31 Days Before your CompTIA A+ Exam by Ben Conry. The latter book is designed to be read by students who just finished the IT Hardware Essentials course and are planning for the exam. The former is more of a general A+ certification guide. I like the Exam Cram book because it is fairly concise without a lot of beginner fluff that I do not need.
I plan to get started this week on both books and want to really compress the time I spend on studying so that I can take the exams fairly quickly after receiving my voucher discounts. Unlike my previous studying for Network+ and Security+, I do not plan to do chapter review questions or take any practice tests. I feel as if I just need to review the material since I have years of experience in this area. Hopefully, I’ll do fine using this process.
I just got back from the testing center with a pass on the Security+ exam. I went into the exam very confident. I had made a 97% and a 96% on my two practice exams and was feeling really good after using the flashcards and practice tests in the iPad application. (link in my last post) However, My confidence level was all over the place during the exam. Many of the questions were worded very strangely and I struggled at times to determine just what they were trying to ask. The further I got into the test the lower my confidence got. I still felt that I knew the material well but that the questions were tripping me up. In fact, when I hit the final submit button I was honestly worried that I had failed. Imagine my surprise when the score came back as 897/900! I obviously did a lot better than I thought I had did since I got a near perfect score.
Monday, it is on to the next cert and I’ll talk about that more in my next post. Today and this weekend, I celebrate. 🙂
In about 48 hours I will be taking the Security+ SY0-301 exam. I finished chapter 11 of Darril Gibson’s book and completed the end of chapter review questions about an an hour ago. This was the last chapter in the book. I combined the end of chapter review questions from chapters 1-11 into one document as I did with the Network+ questions. This will serve as one of my final practice tests. It is approximately 275 questions. The book also had a 100 question final practice exam. I will be taking both of these and using the results to determine any areas I need to re-study. Tomorrow I plan on hitting the iPhone/iPad app pretty hard and really drill myself with it. I also plan on reading the acronym list/glossary at the end of the book. Because of the delay, my final prep time seems a bit more compressed than with the Network+ studying but I feel everything is going to work out. Of course, I’ll know for sure in 48 hours whether I’ve done a good job or not.
As I posted here back on April 1st, I was all set to take the Security+ exam on April 12th. However, on April 2nd at 11:30pm my mother passed away which spun my life into disorder for about a week. I missed a solid week of classes as well as got absolutely no self-studying done. Therefore, I was forced to push my test date back to my original goal date of April 19th. Even that feels closer than I would like at the moment as I have been very busy trying to get caught up in my college classes while helping my family through this dark time.
The week off has been an emotional roller coaster and my motivation and confidence have been affected to some degree. I debated whether I even wanted to address this issue here, but decided I should since life is part of the process and does affect the journey. Sometimes life can be great and other times not so much. However, I know my mom would want me to get right back on the horse and keep traveling so that is what I plan to do. I still need to get chapters 9-11 of Darril’s book read as well as the final couple of chapters in Ciampa’s book. Hopefully, I can get all that completed by Saturday and start my review before the test on the 19th.
I have been checking EBay daily for Security+ vouchers and one finally came onto the radar scope the other day. I managed to pick one up for $210 which is a $67 discount off the regular price. This was an ‘expiring soon’ voucher that had to be used by April 30th. However, as my original goal date for the test was April 19th, this was perfect for me. I am actually running ahead of my original goal date so I used the voucher immediately and scheduled the test for April 12th. This will help motivate be to get the final push done while not leaving too much slack time to forget things.
I still have chapters 9, 10, and 11 to complete in Darril Gibson’s book and I honestly haven’t had a chance to get to it since finishing chapter 8 on the 28th. Funny thing is that it feels like a long time ago but as I write this I am realizing that it was only 4 days ago. I am hoping to get chapter 9 read later tonight and then finish the book during the week. After that it will be on to practice tests, review, and re-reading on weaker areas based on the results of practice testing.
I’ve been doing a lot of research on Cisco topics as well and will discuss that in some future blog posts.