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Cert Versus Reality


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#1 WyllyWylly

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 09:47 PM

I'm a career desktop/server guy who needs to get a cert, any cert, in order to turn contractor into FTE (full time employment). While working on my Windows 7 certs, I decided to check out the A+, thinking that my 20+ years experience would make it easier to pass. The practice exams on this site bear that out to some degree, I'm passing them with scores averaging 675. Now that I have dug into the material somewhat, I have a few questions from other exam takers and particularly field vets that do this every day and have their A+ certs.

First, do the current tests really deal with non-relevant topics such as Windows 9x, NT 4, and the number of pins on a cable? In practice I never encounter an OS older than XP (save a few rare 2000 PCs in our hospital lab that require it for old apps), nor do I encounter situations where I have to, say, convert a 9 pin mouse connector to a 25 pin connector. I haven't worried about IRQs since Windows 2000 was released years ago. These are obsolete technologies and have little practical value, so I'm wondering if the actual testing includes such things?

Secondly, given that Windows 8 was recently released as a Consumer Preview - it's in beta, folks - how what is the most *current* technology covered by these exams? I have yet to see any mention of Vista, Windows 7 or evolving standards - even Cat 6 / gigabit ethernet seems strangely missing.

I guess it's down to the accuracy of the practice exams. Are they fairly representative of the current live exams? Should I be memorizing outdated specs and white papers to pass the exams?

For the record, I'm not dogging CompTIA or the cert itself, just wondering where reality comes into play.

#2 Tookata

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 05:18 AM

I know exactly what you mean.Questions relevant 10-12 years ago.Comptia tests are not real world,or practical in any way.Some one who has never touched a pc could study for test,then ace it,but not be able to physically build a custom rig,or set up a simple soho.Ive built/repaired,setup networks for 10 years but still fail these practice tests.

#3 timtom22

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 05:38 AM

View PostWyllyWylly, on 04 April 2012 - 09:47 PM, said:

I'm a career desktop/server guy who needs to get a cert, any cert, in order to turn contractor into FTE (full time employment). While working on my Windows 7 certs, I decided to check out the A+, thinking that my 20+ years experience would make it easier to pass. The practice exams on this site bear that out to some degree, I'm passing them with scores averaging 675. Now that I have dug into the material somewhat, I have a few questions from other exam takers and particularly field vets that do this every day and have their A+ certs.

First, do the current tests really deal with non-relevant topics such as Windows 9x, NT 4, and the number of pins on a cable? In practice I never encounter an OS older than XP (save a few rare 2000 PCs in our hospital lab that require it for old apps), nor do I encounter situations where I have to, say, convert a 9 pin mouse connector to a 25 pin connector. I haven't worried about IRQs since Windows 2000 was released years ago. These are obsolete technologies and have little practical value, so I'm wondering if the actual testing includes such things?

Secondly, given that Windows 8 was recently released as a Consumer Preview - it's in beta, folks - how what is the most *current* technology covered by these exams? I have yet to see any mention of Vista, Windows 7 or evolving standards - even Cat 6 / gigabit ethernet seems strangely missing.

I guess it's down to the accuracy of the practice exams. Are they fairly representative of the current live exams? Should I be memorizing outdated specs and white papers to pass the exams?

For the record, I'm not dogging CompTIA or the cert itself, just wondering where reality comes into play.

Practice tests posted here are created a while ago, by users, with applicable questions as mentioned in the most current objectives in effect at that time.

Obviously, technology has changed, and is reflected accurately in the most current A+ objectives. Please go to the CompTIA website and download latest A+ objectives and you would get an idea as to what one is required to know for successfully passing these tests. I highly doubt Win 8 is included in the official A+ objectives just yet, but surely Win 7 is.

And yes, you are right, it is down to the accuracy of these practice exams. And they were fairly accurate at the time, and now not so. As someone has said philosophically, only thing that is never changing is the change, and it applies aptly to IT.
Petite et accipietis

#4 goalsinmind2

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 05:47 AM

is there any tests with questions for new objectives?

#5 timtom22

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 06:08 AM

View PostTookata, on 05 April 2012 - 05:18 AM, said:

I know exactly what you mean.Questions relevant 10-12 years ago.Comptia tests are not real world,or practical in any way.Some one who has never touched a pc could study for test,then ace it,but not be able to physically build a custom rig,or set up a simple soho.Ive built/repaired,setup networks for 10 years but still fail these practice tests.

Ok, I would have to take an exception here. "CompTIA tests are not real world or practical in any way". Let's deconstruct your blanket statement, shall we? What is not real or practical? The fact that some fails these tests after few years of experience in the field while newbies ace it? I think it comes down to how you approach these tests. These are standardized tests, designed to measure your ability to apply what you know to the situation that might commonly arise at workplace. If you know fundamental principles, it becomes easier for you to do well in these tests as well as in real IT work. For example, I am now in Infrastructure and Network support (Level 3), but when I was at Level 1, there were some techs, who would always suggest restoring the user PCs to fresh OS and then reloading all application, without actually applying any troubleshooting methodology. These techs still linger in Level 1 support and often wonder why people have moved on and they are still stuck on level 1. Now just because they have experience and just because they are in the field all these years doesn't make them any better. Point I am trying to drive is that these exams are how you approach them. If you think you are experienced and are entitled to ace these tests, you would be in for a surprise. There is a difference between doing something logically and doing something mechanically, and when you take these CompTIA exams, the difference is more apparent so. As an experienced user, you would certainly do well in certain portions of these tests but unless you remember memory types, pin #s, appropriate technology etc, you would do poorly in certain segments of these tests. Sure we don't use these esoteric details everyday, but one builds on these to acquire newer and more complex ideas.

Good luck with A+ endeavor.
Petite et accipietis

#6 Tookata

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 10:40 AM

Yeah i better memorize that irq# of a floppy drive.Never needed to know it to solve a software/hardware problem,but if thats what comptia sees as a relevant thing to know off of the top of youre head,so be it.

#7 WyllyWylly

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 09:25 PM

Thanks everyone for the input. I'm glad to know that the content I've been working with is in fact dated and that the exams focus on current tech. The recommendation to visit the CompTIA website is probably the best - and of course, I didn't do my homework, I just took practice tests and bitched.

The organization I work for requires a cert of any kind for full time employment. The subject matter of the certification is largely irrelevant; they just want to see that you are working on personal development. I have been thinking that this would be a good place to start given my experience in the field, and I fully expect I will learn a few new things - although I still maintain that knowing pinouts and memorizing specs are largely irrelevant and do little to further your understanding of the whole, particularly because of the also stated rapid pace of development. You simply don't troubleshoot down to that level in the field; it's not cost effective.

Again, thanks to everyone for the input. I will seek out more current practice exams, on this site and elsewhere.

#8 jimh

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 06:02 PM

I'm looking to get into the IT industry and am hoping that this certification may lead to an entry job doing anything.  Been in other fields non-computer related other than being a user of MS office products.  Is it reasonable to believe that I might be able to get a job at a help desk at entry level with this cert plus the other compTIA certs network+ and security+?

#9 jimh

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 06:03 PM

Does anyone have any links to the topics that are more relevant than some of the questions on here in the practice exams as mentioned earlier?  Any other info is appreciated :)

#10 WyllyWylly

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 08:17 PM

Jim, having *any* certification is only going to open doors, so yes, it's reasonable to believe. But it won't be the cert that gets you the gig; it will be how you interview that determines employment. Vet your resume to the technical recruiting firms online, as many tech positions are filled in this way (my current position is one of these).





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