Certification preparation resources (Reddit negativity)

Chris Gehringer

Well-known member
Jan 26, 2020
24
11
I would love to get your feedback. Why on the Reddit for CompTIA is there so much negativity toward official learning resources? Why does everyone almost always recommend Dion and Messer? So many of us are trying to teach to students and I can't help wonder if I should be using different resources. I certainly understand the advantage of using multiple resources, but due to time and budgets, I can't have/use everything.

Example:
 

Andrew H

Well-known member
Aug 7, 2019
22
40
Lewiston, ME
www.cmcc.edu
In my opinion, students do not understand that there is a firewall between the materials team and the test question makers. They assume that the CertMaster materials will effectively train them to pass with no other studying or practice. The CertMaster materials are explicit in the fact they attempt to cover all objectives throughly, but additional studying outside of the materials is likely needed.

I agree, that we as instructors can provide the additional information to allow students to be successful. Professor Messer has been training for a while and his materials have been vetted multiple times.

I personally make specific note that my courses are not designed to get students to pass a test, but rather take a more holistic approach and train them in the job skills they are likely to encounter in an entry level network position.
 

NATUNA

Well-known member
  • Apr 9, 2020
    182
    627
    Viet Nam
    This is sensitive subject. My opinion about the information that is given in the Reddit, he has said that he has been using all official resources to "self study" and "failed the exam", so my question how many percent that he has really understood about the topics in all official resources?

    The officially resources are references, guidances that everyone was using to research course objectives, to prepare the exam, to consolidate the knowledge, ... PASS or FAIL the exam is different.

    Maybe we has also understood that we are the instructor, not the teacher, our responsibilities are guidances, orientations,... for our students the ways to understand more about the knowledge objects. So it difficult to say that official resources is enough for all, students still need other resources to get their purposes, but at least official resources are reliable reference to start.
     
    Last edited:

    Tess Sluijter

    Well-known member
    Apr 1, 2020
    264
    1
    378
    the Netherlands
    www.kilala.nl
    I would love to get your feedback. Why on the Reddit for CompTIA is there so much negativity toward official learning resources? Why does everyone almost always recommend Dion and Messer? So many of us are trying to teach to students and I can't help wonder if I should be using different resources.
    I've leafed through the ITF+, Net+ and Linux+ official books from CompTIA. I didn't like any of them and would personally not pay money for them. In my opinion other authors do a more efficient or better (or both) job of explaining the important concepts, generally offering better value for money.
     

    Tess Sluijter

    Well-known member
    Apr 1, 2020
    264
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    www.kilala.nl
    So it difficult to say that official resources is enough for all, students still need other resources to get their purposes
    That is absolutely true. Even when self-studying, mixing one (or more) book with research and labs is always needed.
     
    I have also seen this Reddit and mostly what I see out there are students who are trying to just enough to pass an exam. This question is one that has been asked and promulgated by course writers and developers since long before any of this has been a thing.

    I've commented on this before - are we trying to "pass a test" or are we trying to acquire the skills and knowledge to do a job. This is the first question. I don't need to go into a diatribe about motivations, but suffices to say, those on the CompTIA reddit usually are trying to pass a test so they can score a job of some kind, not trying to build up a career.

    So now, the question is - what is certification about, to pass a test or validate knowledge?

    Now, if we believe in the spirit of what certification is about, then restricting one's learning to one book, no matter how good it is, is not wise. A prudent learner is going to investigate different approaches, writing and learning styles, and adapt those to how they learn. They won't ask the question about which book is better at preparing for an exam - they'll ask for more books, more materials, more perspectives.

    But the OP's question is, "because of time/money, we have to choose one book, teach it once, and get the candidate to certification ready status". Maybe I'm misrepresenting, but that seems to jive with the posts on the Reddit sub, as well as my experiences with folks who just want the cert, not the knowledge. I personally have found this to be a bridge too far.

    It takes time and multiple resources to get to certification status. But I believe as long as we promote these "get certified fast" initiatives, we do a disservice to what the certification represents.

    Just my 2¢...

    /r
     
    I agree.
    This is also what I tell my students. Don't rush to study for a certificate rather, certify to prove your competency instead.
    The sad thing is I had more than one student who was chasing the money, rather than learning and acquiring knowledge. Suffices to say, ironically, they always struggled with getting certified. /r
     
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    CompTIA Official Curriculum, Certmaster Labs, and other CompTIA curriculum are sufficient to pass the exams. Are there other good resources out there? Without a doubt. As long as they cover the objectives in sufficient depth, they can help students pass the exams. Some resources will match a particular learner's style better than others.

    Usually people who make posts like that do not have the recommended experience and are just trying to do the bare minimum to pass. They're not trying to acquire new knowledge and skills to help them with their careers. They need the ability to apply the knowlege and not just memorize a bunch of facts and definitions.
     

    Tess Sluijter

    Well-known member
    Apr 1, 2020
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    www.kilala.nl
    The sad thing is I had more than one student who was chasing the money, rather than learning and acquiring knowledge. Suffices to say, ironically, they always struggled with getting certified. /r
    On the one hand, idealism is great and I do condone the ideal that students should strive for understanding and experience.

    But on the other hand, as the meme goes: "Ain't nobody got time for that!".

    Many students I meet on Discord, Reddit or at school are disadvantaged and in high need of change in their professional career. They don't have the time and money to invest in multiple books, training guides, practice exams, video trainings and lab environments. They are brought in with the promise of a one-stop-shop for a study that will help them towards passing an exam, which in turn is sold to them (by CompTIA et al) as being something with job guarantees.
     
    I think these are all great comments and completely on point in terms of addressing Chris' original question.

    I thought Tess and Rick made good points about many students seeking the shortest path to certification.

    The one thing I'll add is that pretty much everyone learns differently. I have had students that have read Chapple and Gibson's books cover to cover to prepare for Security+ and then fail the exam. I step in and question the student about the material and we identify gaps. Some of those gaps can be filled by watching a video. Others by completing an activity. Some of these gaps have nothing to do with the topic but instead are about the way the questions are worded and the words used.

    I'm new to CertMaster but so far I think it goes a long way towards giving students the tools they need to prepare for an exam.
     
    That is absolutely true. Even when self-studying, mixing one (or more) book with research and labs is always needed.
    I concur. Yes, I purchase more than one study guide from different authors. In addition, I purchased tech manuals such as 101 Labs, and build a virtual network environment to practice what I am reading and studying.
     
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    The one thing I'll add is that pretty much everyone learns differently. I have had students that have read Chapple and Gibson's books cover to cover to prepare for Security+ and then fail the exam. I step in and question the student about the material and we identify gaps. Some of those gaps can be filled by watching a video. Others by completing an activity. Some of these gaps have nothing to do with the topic but instead are about the way the questions are worded and the words used.

    I'm new to CertMaster but so far I think it goes a long way towards giving students the tools they need to prepare for an exam.
    I would agree that different learning styles and approaches will necessitate the need for different books, Question and active learning, to me, makes a lot of difference and there is no silver bullet solution. Not even CertMaster can do it all.

    I do think a lot of folks look for that one single book that will do it all, primarily for cost, but time. Again, I stand by my belief that it's got to come from a genuine sense of desire to learn and acquire the knowledge, not just looking for that certification pass.

    I very much believe that a varied array of learning resources will lead to more success. And there's this - nothing you'll see on a cert exam is hidden behind a paywall. You may have to dig some, but there's nothing you can't find online, even legally, if you're willing to dig around.

    /r
     
    In my opinion, students do not understand that there is a firewall between the materials team and the test question makers. They assume that the CertMaster materials will effectively train them to pass with no other studying or practice. The CertMaster materials are explicit in the fact they attempt to cover all objectives throughly, but additional studying outside of the materials is likely needed.

    I agree, that we as instructors can provide the additional information to allow students to be successful. Professor Messer has been training for a while and his materials have been vetted multiple times.

    I personally make specific note that my courses are not designed to get students to pass a test, but rather take a more holistic approach and train them in the job skills they are likely to encounter in an entry level network position.
    I second your point 100%
     
    I would agree that different learning styles and approaches will necessitate the need for different books, Question and active learning, to me, makes a lot of difference and there is no silver bullet solution. Not even CertMaster can do it all.

    I do think a lot of folks look for that one single book that will do it all, primarily for cost, but time. Again, I stand by my belief that it's got to come from a genuine sense of desire to learn and acquire the knowledge, not just looking for that certification pass.

    I very much believe that a varied array of learning resources will lead to more success. And there's this - nothing you'll see on a cert exam is hidden behind a paywall. You may have to dig some, but there's nothing you can't find online, even legally, if you're willing to dig around.

    /r
    "And there's this - nothing you'll see on a cert exam is hidden behind a paywall. You may have to dig some, but there's nothing you can't find online, even legally, if you're willing to dig around. "

    EXACTLY!
     

    IngerA

    Well-known member
    May 11, 2022
    1
    1
    Delaware, USA
    If we take a look at this analytically, I would take issue if the practice test gave a false sense of knowledge. My preference is to over-prepare. I would prefer a practice test where I was challenged on the more difficult material so that I’m pushed to learn more and deeper. It’s win-win because either the real exam seems easy and you score well or it seems comparable to the practice and you score well.
    That said, nothing beats tearing apart a PC or troubleshooting.a network to really solidify what you learned. The hands-on is a MUST.
    Take care, all.
     
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    I would prefer a practice test where I was challenged on the more difficult material so that I’m pushed to learn more and deeper.
    Back in the day, that's what Transcender used to be. The claim was if you could pass a Transcender exam after studying, proper, you would be quite ready for the exam. Transcender was bought out by Kaplan which became Cybervista. It's not what it once was.

    I think practice exams, even, tend to be hard to pin down because of how they are used. Some use them to evaluate and validate knowledge prior to going into the live exam, others use them to sharpen up.

    One thing that I started doing a few years ago is what @Lee McWhorter has said on his TTT sessions - use the Glossary and Index. He says he reviews them before going into an exam. I like to use them like flashcards - if I can define the term, explain it in my own words, and apply that knowledge, I have it down. That trick has served me well on a number of exams in the past.

    /r
     

    Tess Sluijter

    Well-known member
    Apr 1, 2020
    264
    1
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    the Netherlands
    www.kilala.nl
    I think practice exams, even, tend to be hard to pin down because of how they are used. Some use them to evaluate and validate knowledge prior to going into the live exam, others use them to sharpen up.
    And some just outright steal real exam questions and sell them as "guaranteed exam pass". :(

    what @Lee McWhorter has said on his TTT sessions - use the Glossary and Index. He says he reviews them before going into an exam. I like to use them like flashcards
    That's a neat trick: flash cards without all the hard work. Although it does depend on the author having made a decent index.