Struggling in my studies, frustrated

vordul_megavordul_mega Posts: 5Member ■□□□□□□□□□
Hello everyone!

I'll start this with some pedigree info. I'm a community college student pursuing an associates degree with a focus on IT. I've only taken one class this semester (my first class) and it centers around basic hardware and software fundamentals. Before the class, I didn't know what a heatsink was. I have very limited knowledge and understand regarding computing.

The class was too easy, though. Exams and labs were multiple choice, all featuring extra credit (except for the final), and basically felt like my instructor was trying to make sure we all passed. I never once felt challenged, and that is a problem. I made a 98-105 on each exam (he always offered two 2.5 point extra credit questions) and finished his 50 question tests in about 6-10 minutes each time.

So I decided that I am probably going to learn all of it on my own, which is discouraging. I own Jean Andrews "Guide to Managing and Maintaining Your PC" and Mike Meyers "All-in-One" book. They are great resources, but I am just finding all of the information to be overwhelming. I feel as though I am being given puzzle pieces but I don't know how to create the whole picture, just pieces here and there.

My main problem stems from multiple issues. Information retention, comprehension, and not knowing what exactly is crucial information and what is just something that will not show up on the test or effect me in my career.
Like, do I need to know every throughput speed of the outdated PIO and DMA modes? Do I need to know the details of every RAID configuration even though some of them are obsolete or simply not needed?

Then there is the issue of information being presented in different ways, which sometimes is nice as I am getting multiple perspectives, but also issues like Jean Andrews calling the floppy disk connector a Berg connector and Mike Meyers saying it is called a mini connector. Okay, which is it? What do people actually call it?

All I want to know is exactly what will be on the A+ exam. That is it. I want to know how to troubleshoot any computer problem, and also have a rich understanding of how computers operate.

The Mike Meyers book recommends that I read the book once, like a novel, and then go back and read through it again, this time just skimming and highlighting ideas that seem important. He claims that things that were once not so clear will seem clear the second time around. I trust that, but, reading 1,500 page text twice sort of seems nightmarish. I'm willing to do whatever it takes to understand though.

I watched 10-12 Professor Messer videos on the 801 objectives. He does not seem to give good information, I learned nothing new from watching the first dozen or so videos. It seems as though all of my study resources will either give me too little information, or too much, or perhaps what I consider "too much" you guys consider easy to handle. For the chapter on hard drive technologies, I made note cards for each section on each ATA standard, writing down everything important and re-reading what I wrote down. Then I forget it later. All I could really tell you (I hope I'm at least right about this..) was that ATA-2 introduced support for non hard-disk drives, that ATA-7 introduced the fastest Ultra DMA and SATA at the same time, but really that's about it. I don't remember the different speeds, I don't remember where double word DMA was introduced, and I don't really even remember what was special about ATA-3. I remember it being something... maybe it was the standard that allowed two controllers to support a new maximum of 4 devices. I don't know. As you can see, I am not retaining everything, but I don't know if I should be spending 30+ hours re-reading 1 chapter and studying flash cards over and over and over, because my main goal is to simply read the entire text, and THEN dive into the hardcore 30+ hours studying one simple idea until it makes sense, memorizing every single socket and it's processor families, etc.

What really rubs the salt in, though, is this article I read a few days ago about a 12 year old boy in South Africa who has an A+ certification. It motivates me, makes me think "I can do this" but also makes me wonder if I've fried my 27 year old brain from smoking pot for 14 years and taking psychedelics, etc.

Maybe I'm dumb, maybe I'm over my head and should stick to entry level food service and retail. I feel like I'm floundering.

This is both a rant/vent and a cry for help (advice, really). I'm hoping someone who found themselves feeling similarly once before can offer some guidance, or someone can show me some books I haven't seen or.. I don't know. I need help!

I'm looking at the Exam Cram book(s). I read a review by a "former mechanic" who claimed that he was working on cars one minute and then a few weeks after studying this Exam Cram book, he passed both exams for the A+. Then I read reviews by instructors and professionals in the IT field claiming that the book is perfect for people who have an intermediate understanding of the A+ material, which excludes me.

Dear god somebody help me.

Comments

  • H3||scr3amH3||scr3am Posts: 564Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Sorry you feel overwhelmed, first let me help put you at ease by stating that these are entry level certifications, if a 12 year old can get one, and every guy on the best buy geek squad has one so they can install your TV, you can get one.

    Secondly, the Exam Cram books, I love and use them religiously where possible, they focus solely on what will be on the exam, that being said I did and do continue to supplement my CompTIA studies with Professor Messer's free videos too. The Exam cram books, include testing software, a 10% discount code, which stacks with the ones found here, saving you 20% per test, and they include a very handy cram card in the front of the book, that gives a good overview for each test and the topics to refresh yourself on. I'd really suggest this book if you're feeling overwhelmed with the other materials you've selected.

    My suggestion to you, if you buy the exam cram book would be to do the following:

    Read through the entire book (no other resources during this time), taking notes on what you feel is important, the day you finish, read over your notes again, and take the 801 practice test using the software or back of the book. (the software will tell you which chapters the questions are from though), and then focus on your weak points, and book your exam once you've brushed up on them.
  • vordul_megavordul_mega Posts: 5Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks for the reply.

    So I'm being clear, this is the book I was referring to. Not sure if there are other books branded as being exam cram guides.

    I'm just struggling to find a pace. When I have a mountain of information being thrown at me, and I don't know what I should focus on, and what is not very important. My understanding of the Exam Cram books is that it is no frills, humorless, and if it isn't required knowledge, it isn't in the book.

    That's what I want. So my plan right now is to get this book, study that, absorb it, and then read the other books I have for a second/third perspective and additional comprehension.

    Yeah, knowing how easy it should be to get this cert definitely motivates me to believe that it's possible, but is also highly demotivating when I feel frustrated that it isn't seeming as easy as others make it out to be.

    Thanks for the advice.
  • H3||scr3amH3||scr3am Posts: 564Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Yes, that is the exact book, and edition I used to pass last week. :D
  • John-JohnJohn-John Posts: 33Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    I love building PCs. When you spend money to put things together you naturally learn about what type of RAM goes where and what the different options are for overclocking your PC, repairing it, and getting the most out of it. When I took my A+ exam I had books and things. I started on the Professor Messer videos but never finished them. I maybe made it through a quarter of the book by Mike Meyers. I found that as I was reading along that I already knew a lot. Just by being a computer enthusiast. If you approach it by that angle you might find some inspiration for understanding more about computer hardware. The rest comes with experience and seeing problems come up. And also, those throughput speeds are not so important to get right 100% I think. Just know what stuff is relative to other types of memory. Know the bus speed and the clock multiplier and the differences in the general types of memory and you will be fine.
    Goals for 2019: CISSP[x] CCNA-SEC [x] CEH[x]
    Goals for 2020: OSCP [] eCPPT[] eNDP[]
  • Jon_CiscoJon_Cisco Posts: 1,773Member ■■■■■■■■□□
    I would be careful about your approach. "All I want to know is exactly what will be on the A+ exam. That is it."

    That's not likely to get you a job or make you very good with computers. I remember studying for the A+ and falling asleep with the 1500 page book in my hand. The content is boring and the information seems useless. What you need to understand is that the certification is not really trying to teach you the speed of all of the connections. It's trying to teach you how the connections are made and how they progress. That's the information that will be useful long after you forgot the real specs. At the start of your study don't focus on memorizing that stuff because you will probably give up before you ever understand it.

    I have to agree read one book from start to finish and don't worry about if it all made sense. If you like videos watch a video series before reading a book. Depending on your learning style you might find random youtube videos are a good resource. Just searching for something to watch will introduce you to a lot of topics.

    After you have read through whichever book you choose you should have a good understanding of what A+ is about. Now go make some study aids. Find charts that help you memorize the boring stuff. Do this all as exam prep but let the first reading be about learning something new.

    Good Luck!
  • BJ4ITBJ4IT Posts: 42Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    H3||scr3am wrote: »
    Sorry you feel overwhelmed, first let me help put you at ease by stating that these are entry level certifications, if a 12 year old can get one, and every guy on the best buy geek squad has one so they can install your TV, you can get one.

    Secondly, the Exam Cram books, I love and use them religiously where possible, they focus solely on what will be on the exam, that being said I did and do continue to supplement my CompTIA studies with Professor Messer's free videos too. The Exam cram books, include testing software, a 10% discount code, which stacks with the ones found here, saving you 20% per test, and they include a very handy cram card in the front of the book, that gives a good overview for each test and the topics to refresh yourself on. I'd really suggest this book if you're feeling overwhelmed with the other materials you've selected.

    My suggestion to you, if you buy the exam cram book would be to do the following:

    Read through the entire book (no other resources during this time), taking notes on what you feel is important, the day you finish, read over your notes again, and take the 801 practice test using the software or back of the book. (the software will tell you which chapters the questions are from though), and then focus on your weak points, and book your exam once you've brushed up on them.

    Scr3am quick question. Have you read any other material on the A+ exam outside of the Exam Cram stuff? I bought Darill Gibson's A+ cert guide but I feel like there are times where he overcomplicates certain things (like his explanation of Base 2 vs. Base 10). While I intend to actually read through the entire book, im considering picking up the Exam Cram book since you say that it focuses primarily on the things that you need to pass the exam. I'll then use Gibson's book to fill things out afterwards (because im actually interested in learning the material).
    2015 Goals:
    CCENT
    CCNA
    CCNA Security
  • H3||scr3amH3||scr3am Posts: 564Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    Myself, outside of my real life experiences (my profile picture is of my current workstation that I built, it's a water cooled SR2 rig with 12 cores (2x Xeon 5650s), and 2x GTX480s in SLi. I've been building PCs for over 12 Yrs. I'm a moderator on overclock.net and have much experience with troubleshooting hardware and assembling PCs... (It's amazing the troubles you run into when you add liquid nitrogen and insane overclocks to hardware components :p) But yes, I've used the Exam Cram books for both my CISSP and my A+ so far without issue, although I'm not sure what I scored on my CISSP. I'm now reading the Exam Cram for Network+ and hope to pass that in the coming weeks.
  • DeathmageDeathmage Posts: 2,496Banned
    You know this is something that I hope helps you. Reading a book is great but physically playing with stuff is another, seeing how the thing works and lights up that is true learning, the feel of accomplishment once it's working is amazing.

    You might be warranted to go on Newegg or Amazon and spec-out a computer, buy the parts and build a PC from scratch, also while your at it get a small 8 port managed switch and a Linksys/Netgear wireless router and hook that baby up; make a small SOHO network.

    Without disclosing the NDA, I can tell you a bunch of the question are basically you know it or you don't. I felt going into the exam, my 1st one I took, it was going to be hard but you see if you work with PC's and are the 'go-to-guy' for computer issues, the exam is simple...

    Here's the thing, the exam is a test of knowledge, it's not the end of the world if you fail. I failed the 2nd part of the A+ and then 3 days later re-took it and passed with a high score. I think not knowing what's on the exam is the more scary thing. I will contest me taking the VCP5-DCV on Wednesday the fear of not knowing is what scares me the most, but after 4 months of studying I just hope I did enough....if I fail no worries, I'm prepared to fail but if I pass that's awesome.

    At the end of the day you just have to take the exam, if you fail, study were you lack and re-do it. Success isn't always about success, sometimes you must fail in order to achieve true success.
  • BJ4ITBJ4IT Posts: 42Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    H3||scr3am wrote: »
    Myself, outside of my real life experiences (my profile picture is of my current workstation that I built, it's a water cooled SR2 rig with 12 cores (2x Xeon 5650s), and 2x GTX480s in SLi. I've been building PCs for over 12 Yrs. I'm a moderator on overclock.net and have much experience with troubleshooting hardware and assembling PCs... (It's amazing the troubles you run into when you add liquid nitrogen and insane overclocks to hardware components :p) But yes, I've used the Exam Cram books for both my CISSP and my A+ so far without issue, although I'm not sure what I scored on my CISSP. I'm now reading the Exam Cram for Network+ and hope to pass that in the coming weeks.

    What did you use to prep for the 802? Its to my understanding that the Exam Cram book for A+ really only covers the material for the 801.
    2015 Goals:
    CCENT
    CCNA
    CCNA Security
  • H3||scr3amH3||scr3am Posts: 564Member ■■■■□□□□□□
    CompTIA A+ 220-801 and 220-802 Exam Cram, 6th Edition | Pearson IT Certification

    it covers both 801 and 802 objectives, the cram sheet is even divided by exam.
  • BoneSpurBoneSpur Posts: 33Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    I feel your pain. I passed the 801 on Dec 3rd and I will be taking the 802 this Friday the 19th. I finally just said "screw it" and took the test. I told my wife if I fail, then I will work overtime to pay for it again. I didn't fail, I passed. That is what matters, passing.

    You almost sound like you have to be perfect and memorize the entire 1500 page book. You don't. Goto examcompass.com and take the practice quizzes there. That will tell you where you are at.

    You may feel like you are eating an elephant... but even an elephant can be eaten one byte at a time. Good luck, you can do it!
    All the effort in the world won't matter if you're not inspired. - Chuck Palahniuk
  • crazboy84crazboy84 Posts: 67Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    I had a similar experience in a community college. I think my final grade in hardware and software combined was like a 98 there was no challenge at all to the class it was basically a blow off class the teachers both had full time jobs and did this on the side and really half assed the material. I passed a+ in september using proffessor messor's videos they are great and he has a great way of explaining things. What i did was use websites like examcompass.com for practice tests and any question i wasnt 100% sure about i would write down and then go back and study the material. So i used that to find my weak spots until i could score at least a 90 on practice tests and then the test was a breeze.
  • vordul_megavordul_mega Posts: 5Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks everyone for the replies. It is reassuring to hear that others felt similarly when they were studying for the exam.

    I'm just really hoping I can take the exam before the exam objectives are updated!
Sign In or Register to comment.