I have never placed much faith in the quality of CompTIA certifications. Now that I have both an A+ and Network+, I must reiterate that opinion. The exams aren’t designed to test your knowledge, they are designed to trip you up.
The best way to study for a CompTIA exam is to complete as many practice questions as you can. There’s not much need for any real study or understanding of the issues at hand (although it can help). That is the view I took when studying for the Network+ exam. I began by reading the textbook which had been supplied to me, but I quickly gave up on it and turned to practice questions. After 400 questions, I felt ready to take the exam. Mind you, I did have a lot of prior knowledge and understanding, but I’m certain that most people who take this approach do not. In fact, at least 10% of the questions in my exam were identical to practice questions I had done earlier.
How skilful can you expect a CompTIA certification holder to be if the testing method is so pointless? Will they be able to apply the ‘knowledge’ gained from memorising multiple choice answers to real-life situations? Overall, I don’t believe they can.
Case in point: for several months I have had trouble connecting to a couple of Web sites. I knew they were up, but my Web browser would time out whenever I tried to connect. I have known of the existence of the traceroute tool for many years (and I even used it several times), and its use was covered in Network+. However, I only put one and one together relatively recently. Prior to this, I never considered using the tool to troubleshoot my connection to those sites.
Of course, upon realising this I whacked myself on the forehead for my ineptitude. I’m not normally that slow. It got me thinking, though. If I — who knew about the tool even before studying it for the exam — did not think of using it, what were the chances for the average Network+ certification holder? You know, the people who do the cert just to get a job and not because they have any real aptitude or interest?
I’m glad to be doing something else now. Structured programming is a challenge, which is far more than I can say for the CompTIA certs.