Last Wednesday I scheduled my INCD2 exam (again). The original goal date was 08-17-2012 but I just didn’t feel I would be ready in 2 days so I scheduled it for today. I was up late last night playing the Cisco Aspire game and once again I had trouble sleeping. I do not know what it is about the ICND2 exam that makes it so intimidating but it really works the nerves over. So I woke up this morning without getting a good night of sleep. I normally relax on exam day and do not cover any material. Today I am studying. So I start into my 2nd attempt by making two mistakes again: not getting enough rest and cramming. Part of me feels that I am going to totally redeem myself since I only missed passing my 7 points last time. Another part of me feels like I am going to do worse than last time. On my last attempt there were 4 or 5 questions (2 on one topic) that would have made the difference. I am also feeling that maybe I spent too much time focusing on those areas and not enough on everything else. What happens if I do not even get questions on those topics again? Honestly, I did not get as much studying done in the last two weeks as I wanted. The exam is in about 5 hours so whether I like it or not, I’m up to bat again. I’m really not sure if I can handle another crushing defeat on this exam. One thing is certain though: I will keep taking this exam until I pass. I am committed to that! Hopefully, my stress and worries about the ICND2 exam and CCNA will be in the rearview mirror very soon. Now, it is time to go review more.
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.
I finished reading chapter 8 of Darril Gibson’s book tonight and once I do the review questions in the morning I’ll be ready for chapter 9. I was getting curious as to how I was doing and wanted to get a little progress measurement so a few minutes ago I went over to the CompTIA site and took the 100 question practice test. Here are the results:
I am encouraged by the result for a couple of reasons:
1. The areas I scored the lowest in are coming up in the next 3 chapters of Darril’s book so I haven’t really even studied that material yet.
2. I remember the practice test for the Network+ exam being harder than the actual exam.
Furthermore, I’l have some additional convergence in the areas of Cryptography and Business Continuity in the near future as those chapters are coming up next in the Ciampa book I am using in my Network Security class.
Overall, I’m feeling fairly good about the Security+ studying. I’m feeling confident at this point but not overconfident.
Since my last post, I’ve managed to get chapters 5 and 6 of Darril Gibson’s book read and I’ve completed the end of chapter review questions for those chapters. There has been a bit of convergence lately with my community college classes. For example, chapter 4 of Darril’s book covers wireless security which is the same as Chapter 8 of Mark Ciampa’s book. We just covered chapter 8 in class last Thursday so I felt like I got a double dose on the topic. Tonight in my A+ class we’ll be covering chapters 9 and 16 in the IT Hardware Essentials book by Cisco. Both these chapters are on security and cover topics such as security policy, viruses, worms, trojans, etc. So it seems as if I have been getting security material on all fronts recently. After class tonight I’ll be watching Survivor from the DVR and after someone gets booted off the island it is on to chapter 7 in Darril’s book.
I’ve been using Pearson’s Question of the Day newsletter for around a month now and find it is a good way to start my day when checking e-mail. Basically, you go to Pearson’s Newsletter Sign Up page, check off the boxes for the relevant exams you are working on, enter your e-mail address, and click on the Sign Me Up button. What happens then is that every weekday you will receive a short e-mail with a relevant practice test question. It shows you which book the question comes from and I have found them to normally be in the Exam Cram series of books. You read the question and click on the link to compare your answer to the correct one along with a short explanation. I’m currently subscribed to the A+, Security+, ICND1, ICND2, and CCNA lists so I get 5 questions a day. It’s a pretty nice resource that gives you short chunks of information to process. Sometimes I find myself do a short bit of research after I miss a particular question and I feel that helps the overall goal without being too time consuming.
An update on the Security+ front: I’m through Chapter 4 and will start reading Chapter 5 tonight when the house gets quiet. I’ve managed to listen to the companion Q&A podcasts through Chapter 4 as well. Yesterday I was in the car with the wife and listening to the Q&A on Chapters 3 and 4 and as I was blurting out the answers along with the audio when my wife exclaimed: “If you already know the answers then why are are you listening to it”. I explained that this was exactly the point to the whole thing and that being able to hear the questions and then respond with the correct answer was a good thing.
Last night I finished reading chapter 2 of Darril Gibson’s book and went to bed thinking about TMO, PDC, RBAC, DAC, and MAC. What is all this you ask? While Chapter 1 was all about authentication, Chapter 2 was all about physical and logical access controls. TMO is a self-created acronym that refers to Technical Controls, Management Controls, and Operational Controls. (Creating my own acronyms is one method I used to help process and store material in my brain.) These controls can either be Preventative, Detective, or Corrective (PDC) or before, during, and after an event as I like to think about them. Access controls can be Role-Based (RBAC) – using Groups, Discretionary (DAC) – Object/File level permissions with owners, or Mandatory (MAC) – using labels. (These 3 are not acronyms of my own) So far, it looks like the Security+ material is going to cover a lot of areas that require some bit of memorization. In addition to creating acronyms and using other tricks, I find that reading before bed and then reflecting on the material as I lay in bed before going to sleep helps with retention. This morning, I did the 24 end of chapter review questions and only missed one of them. It is currently around midnight and quiet in the house so I’m going to get chapter 3 read tonight before turning in for bed.
After passing the Network+ exam it is time to move my attention to studying for the CompTIA Security+ exam. I have been attending a Network Security class at the local community college and we have completed 7 chapters thus far in Mark Ciampa’s Security+ Guide to Network Security Fundamentals, 4th Edition book. However, I wanted to augment my knowledge by using additional material that is more along the line of a exam study guide. After doing some reading on the forums at techexams.net I decided to purchase Darril Gibson’s CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-301 Study Guide e-book from Amazon.com. It is only $9.99 for the Kindle vesion. You can find links to both books on the “Books I bought” tab above. I completed the introduction chapter last night and it mentioned some audio files and an iOS application with flashcards and practice questions and I purchased all of that material as well. After the introduction there was a 100 question assessment to take. I took the assessment and scored 77% which feels pretty good because it lets me know that I know quite a bit already but still have more to learn. Lastly, Darril mentions in the introduction that setting a goal is important and I agree. He states that you should plan to take the exam 45 days from when you start. I’ve marked April 19th on my calendar and plan to complete my Security+ studies and take the exam on that date.