Certification: CompTIA Network+ - Network+
CompTIA is the voice of the world's IT industry. It is a non-profit trade organization that specializes in providing training and certification for young engineers. As such they also provide study resources, including both online and physical for each of their exams. It is weird however that whenever I see a non-profit prefix in front of the word “organization” I tend to raise an eyebrow, because, well, frankly nothing is free in this world. And that rule does seem to apply here as well, seeing as most of the following materials are not free..
About the CompTIA Network+ exam:
The CompTIA Network+ is a certification exam for the associate-level network technician. Big companies like Dell or HP have a little red line in their job requirements that specifically mention this little piece of paper. CompTIA prides itself on being a frontrunner in providing certifications and training for Network Technicians, and this shows both in their international renown, and power of their certifications. The exam itself is about 100 questions, lasting no more than 1 ½ hours. The score range from 100 to 900 with 720 being the magic pass score. It can be taken in a multitude of language such as: English, Japanese, German, Simplified and Traditional Chinese (these refer to the type of characters), Korean and Spanish. It has 5 big topics, each with its own 2-page-wroth of sub-topics. The exam topics, as well as their percentage value of the exam is as follows:Network Concepts (21%) ;Network Installation and Configuration (23%); Network Media and Topologies (17%); Network Management (20%); Network Security (19%). A detailed overview of the topics can be found here. While the technology and exam evolves from time-to-time, the topics will generally only be just barely updated, as the topics must not change too much, as to keep the exam consistent. However, you may expect one or two questions about that new router that just got released last month for a bonus.
What are the online study resources that CompTIA provides?
When it comes to CompTIA, the difference between online resources and, you know, the other kind of resources is mostly between their training courses, and everything else. Everything that can be bought on their store or their main page should be considered online study material, while the training programs non-line resources, if that makes any sense…
CompTIA provides a selection of both payable and free study materials, although most of it payable (makes you think about the non-profit thingy), including study books, practice tests, etc… which can be bought in their store. If you are unsure what you need to buy, there are usually bundles or Guide Books that contain most of what you will need. They also have a personalized training program (basically an AI managed auto-test-giver) called the CertMaster. They pride that the CertMaster understands your needs and capabilities and makes studying easy and fun, at just around $190/year.
CompTIA also provides sample questions that can be taken. Be sure to have the latest version of Adobe Reader though, as most content is in.pdf format.
How effective are the resources?
If you are wondering what the individual value of each resource is, they are rather solid, however the resources were made to work with one another. Each resource, whether it’s a practice guide, or a practice test collection, a technical topic description, etc., does only one job, but that it does well. However you are put in the need to buy the bundles or guide books that can reach upward of $50. The items can also be bought individually, but due to their sheer numbers, it might be awkward to search for one item in particular, and you may accidentally buy something you might not need.
If taken in by the overall productivity, then the CertMaster is the most valuable and productive product you can buy. There is also the option of using the free trial of the product on their main site here. The tool is rather interesting, but it promises quite a lot, and I’m not all that convinced if its effectiveness is quite as good as they say it is, however the simple thought of a test generator that adapts to your needs is bewitching, and is worth at least a trial-run.
The guide books usually contain pre-chapter quizzes, a mini-test that you can take to see about how much time you want to spend on each section; Foundation topics, which explain concepts, configuration and general technical knowledge, each topic having a KEY topic that is marked as important; along with exam preparation chapters and a CD full of practice questions. If you have any doubts over which one to buy, this book (Authorized Cert Guide for CompTIA Network+ N10-005 - CompTIA Authorized) is highly rated as solid reference for Net+. You can also borrow the book from someone who has it, but if you do, make sure the book is at the latest version, as some information may become redundant in older prints. The Guide books evolve along with the technology.
Any certification provider will also provide the prospective candidates with study material. Not doing so would be, in fact, weird. While the fact that they may be doing it as a way to make more money is somewhat questionable, the overall effect is that the costumer is helped with the best possible materials: Those given by the examiners themselves. After all, who would know their answers better? The overall term for the online study material is good. While CompTIA cautions against buying study resources online that do not have their authorization, and other 3rd party decent study resources are rare, those provided by the CompTIA will suffice for any but the most suicidal study-bots.
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