Michael Aldridge: Three of my favorite preparation quotes are: “Every battle can be won before it is ever fought.” Sun Tzu, The Art of War. “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin: “Give me six hours for a tree to be cut down, and I’ll spend the first four sharpening my axe.” Abraham Lincoln
Preparation is key to passing a certification examination. What is the best way you can prepare for it? Although the answer will be different for everyone, I will share some tips that have helped both me and others over time.
First, choose a certification exam that matches your experience level. Certifications don’t replace experience. Instead, certifications should validate your experience. I recommend starting your career in IT by pursuing entry-level certifications such as the CompTIA A+ or Network+ certifications. The Microsoft MCSA and MCSE certifications might be a good choice if you have previous experience with Windows computers in a network environment. You might also consider the Cisco CCENT or CCNA certifications if you have real-world experience with Cisco devices.
You can take the exam without studying if you have a lot of experience. However, I don’t recommend it. There are three ways you can prepare for a certification exam.
1. You can take the exam without studying. I don’t recommend that you take an exam without studying. It is possible, however, to take an exam if you have lots of experience. Boson’s ExSim-Max practice tests can help you determine if you are ready.
2. A training provider can help you take a course. Many people mistakenly believe you must take a course in the classroom before you can sit for a certification exam. Only a few certifications require classroom training. A training provider may be the best choice for you if you prefer to learn in a structured learning environment. A training provider will cost you more than the next option.
3. Self-study. This is the option that I recommend most. There are many advantages to self-study over a structured classroom training program. You can learn at your own pace, not the pace of the other students in the class, on your own time (not the time that the training center dictates), and with training materials you choose (not those provided by the training provider), all for a fraction of what it costs.
I usually study one or more study books that have received positive reviews. You can learn difficult concepts by studying more than one guide. What one guide doesn’t describe well (or doesn’t cover at all), another might.
After I have studied, I will take practice exams to test my knowledge. Practice exams can boost your confidence and help you identify areas that need improvement. Boson’s ExSim-Max, a high-quality practice exam product, will offer the following:
Three or more exams with different questions
Questions that mirror what you will see on the actual exam
Explanations that detail why the right answer is correct and why the wrong answers don’t work
Refer to references that support the answer or give more information about the subject
a money-back guarantee
I recommend that you take the first practice test, and then, after you have received your score, go through all the explanations. Yes, all of them. Even the ones you didn’t answer correctly. Grab your study guide and go over the weakest sections. Once you feel confident, take the second exam and go through the process again. If you feel confident enough to take the final exam, you should not do so.
Some recommend that you take practice exams repeatedly until you achieve 100%. This approach can lead to a number of problems.