How to Study For and Pass the CompTIA Network+ Exam

CompTIA certification is a great advantage to a computer technology professional because it provides proof to employers that they have the competence required to perform the job. Certification can help you acquire employment in the computer technology profession. In fact, many employers require CompTIA certification.

If you are already working in the computer technology field, certification can help you advance and earn a higher salary. Being CompTIA certified can give you the self confidence and recognition you need to compete in today’s demanding job market.

In this article, you'll learn how to study for and pass the CompTIA Network+ exam. You will not be learning any tricks here. Passing the exam is hard of work, but nothing worth while is ever easy. But, is it worth while? The median salary for a Network Administrator with 2-4 years of experience is $52,493.

Here's how to study

Get five or six good quality comprehensive self tests and take them. If you miss a question on a self test, re-study that subject and take the test again. Keep re-taking the self tests until you regularly pass them with a score of 90 percent or higher.

Why five or six self tests? Because if you use only one text, you'll have the answers to the questions on that specific test memorized. When you take the actual exam, you'll be presented with an entirely new set of questions. Even if you purchase an expensive application that generates tests by randomly selecting questions from a data base of thousands of questions, those questions where created by the one individual or company. Each test creator has their own point of view that may not be in agreement with the point of view of CompTIA's test writers.

Why pass with a score of 90 percent? Because the minimum passing score for the CompTIA Network+ exam is 82 percent. You need a safe margin between your self test scores and 82 percent. If you frequently pass your self tests with a score of 82 percent, you'll need luck to pass the actual exam. If you're not lucky, you'll pay $185.00 to take the exam twice (or more).

Shouldn't I wait until I always pass the self tests with a score of 100 percent? Even the best self tests (and the CompTIA exams) contain questions that use improper grammar, have incorrect answers, or are just plain stupid. Sometimes you can't get a 100 percent unless you deliberately answer the question incorrectly - and that's not good practice.

Setup a Computer Lab

I recommend that you set up a lab with three computers, one to act as a server and two to act as work stations. Then design a fake company and set up home directories and user accounts for the employees of the company. It's very difficult to pass the certification test without some hands-on experience. Straight memorization won't prepare you for the scenario type questions on the exam.

In my opinion, you can't get the required hands-on experience with just one computer. To "network", you need several computers to network. If setting up a lab is a matter of cost, you can get used computers for only a couple hundred bucks - not a bad investment for a $52,493 a year job. If it takes you several tries to pass the test (which is common), then you end up burning the same amount of cash as you would if you set up a lab.

If workarea to setup a computer lab is the problem, you can buy used notebook computers, as long as they have an Ethernet port.

Getting real hands-on experience is critical for your performance after you get a job. It can cost a large corporation hundreds of thousands of dollars each minute that a network is down. You don't want to be sitting there in front of experienced network administrators with your hands shaking because you're too scared to do anything. Maybe they'll let you be their coffee goafer for a week until you get fired. Setup a computer lab.

How Long Will it Take?

How long it takes to study for the exam depends upon how smart you are and how much experience you have. Some say if you have no experience it will take 30 hours of study to pass the test. Don't make me laugh! If you have no experience, you better double that. And if you can't study for at least five hours each week, you are probably wasting your time because you'll forget the material faster than you learn it. I would use a rough estimate of six weeks.

The actual time required to study for the exam is determined by when you regularly pass the self tests with a score of 90 percent or higher.

The most important element for success in pursuit of CompTIA Network+ certification is to schedule study time and during that scheduled study time make study your first priority.

Which Materials are Best for Preparing for the Exam?

Each author/publisher has their own idea about what material to emphazise and what approach to take, so you should purchase several different CompTIA Network+ certification study guides. Another advantage to using several different study materials is that they reinforce each other. You should give preference to study guides that include a CD ROM containing self tests.

This book focuses exactly on what you need to know to pass the exam, plus test-taking strategies, time-saving study tips, and a special Cram Sheet that includes tips, acronyms, and memory joggers not available anywhere else. The accompanying CD features PrepLogic™ Practice Tests, Preview Edition. This product includes one complete PrepLogic Practice Test with approximately the same number of questions found on the actual vendor exam. Each question contains full, detailed explanations of the correct answers.

A reader in Massachusetts says, "I just used this book and a few online tests and got an 833/900 on the exam. The book pretty much covers everything, just read it through a few times and take the practice tests and you should pass easily."

Another book by Michael Meyers, but this one is more concise, well formatted, and a size that makes it a more portable study tool with an intensive focus only on what you need to know to pass the exam plus practice exam software on CD.

Reader John Matlock from Winnemucca Nevada says, "Although this book is oriented towards the passing of the CompTIA Network+ certification test, it is also an excellent introduction to networking. It can be used by anyone all of a sudden in over his head in getting a network set up and running. The text is written very straight and to the point. A lot of books of this type spend a lot of time rambling on about theory. This one doesn't."

Passing the CompTIA Network+ certification exam is hard of work, but for a career with a salary of $52,493, it's worth it. The way to pass the exam is to use the materials described above to study and keep taking the self tests until you regularly pass them with a score of 90 percent or higher. Then you can take the certification exam confidently and pass on the first try.

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