How I tackled my revision
As of now, I have been with Optima for almost a year and I took my first exam last month which was CompTIA Network+. I started studying for the exam last year around October and did some practice exams around March this year.
At first it was quite difficult studying for the exam as I was learning something new and what I was studying for doesn’t closely relate to my work which made it difficult for me to understand. But I got through in the end which was great.
Now for the actual exam, I am not allowed to give out any questions or specific information about the exam itself, but I will try to give as much advice as I can. When studying for the exam, I used what Global Knowledge Apprenticeships provided me which was useful, but I found an external source which helped me greatly. Professor Messer has a playlist of videos for CompTIA Network+. In the video he talks through each domain carefully and in detail. I spent the first three quarters of my time watching his videos and reading his course notes which I recommend but is not necessary to have (course notes can be bought from his website). Once I got used to parts of the topics, I took practice exams provided by Global Knowledge Apprenticeships from MeasureUp.
The biggest mistake I made whilst studying for the exam was that I focused too much on each topic (subnetting mostly). [There will be subnet questions in the exam, you just need to know how many IPs in /x subnet can be and knowing your binary is also useful.
What you need to take on the day of the exam
Once you are comfortable with each topic and have done well on the practice exams, go ahead and book your exam. Make sure you check the location of your exam centre, mine was close to work and a sunny day, so it gave me time to walk, listen to music and read my notes on the way. Make sure you arrive to your exam centre early, I arrived with 30 minutes to spare and I was allowed to take the exam earlier. I had to do a lot of paperwork and provide identification (make sure you bring your driving license/password and another form of ID as they will ask for two forms of ID).
My approach to the actual exam
Before going in for the exam, make sure you ask for a board and pen, so you can write things.
Once you get started with the exam, you are very likely to get some simulation questions, leave them. Mark them for review and move on. Don’t waste time reading or even trying to understand it, finish the multiple-choice questions first and then go for it. Be confident, if you start questioning yourself that is when everything falls apart. Change the answer of your question ONLY when you are CERTAIN that the answer you inserted first was incorrect.
When you come across a question you do not know, use trial and error. I found a good approach is to look at the first option, does it relate to the question? If it doesn’t remove it as one of your choices. Read the questions very carefully. The questions sometimes start with a sentence or a small paragraph that does not relate to the question itself so be careful there. Don’t leave blank questions, if you don’t know the answer just select a random one, you won’t get marked down for it and by putting a random answer you have a chance of scoring marks. Don’t spend too long on any question. You only get 90 minutes but take your time to read the question properly. You can mark the questions for review, so you can go back to it at the end.
Now back to my experience in the exam centre, it was horrifying for me. I went in early, shaking, getting scared and sat down for the exam. and When I finished the exam, I was certain I had failed. But the worst thing was after you finish the exam, you have to take a survey and that was the most painful part. So, there’s me sitting taking that survey, thinking I was going to failed and wishing that I could just get up and leave, but when I was done with the survey I got a big message saying, ‘You’ve passed’. Happiest moment of my life. I got up, walked to the reception got my paperwork and left. I passed with the score of 758 (passing score was 720), my coach was happy, and I was happier knowing that I have one less exam to take. But then I remember I must take two more exams….
PS: if you are doing a CompTIA exam and if you pass make sure you register on CompTIA’s website if you don’t have an account. You will get a card as well as a certificate delivered to you.
Josh is a Network Engineer at Optima Systems. He was born in Malaysia, moved to UK in 2010 and has lived in West Sussex ever since. He studied IT, Law and Business during A-Levels and went on to University but dropped out later as he did not like the delivery method. More about Josh.