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.

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