How I Passed N+ With No Recent Networking Experience

ladyfire3374ladyfire3374 Member Posts: 14 ■□□□□□□□□□
I got an A+ in Feb 1998 and used it to get a first job in IT later that year, in the frenzy leading up to Y2K. I got thrown right into a quasi desktop support position, and worked in desktop support for the next several years.

Fast forward to July of this year. That would be 18 years. I'm driving a truck to make ends meet. (They meet rather handsomely, but the schedule absolutely sucks). I talked to an acquaintance at a cookout. We talked about my IT background and he suggested that he might be able to get me on where he works if I got a few more certs. I validated his perceptions by talking with a local IT recruiter in some depth.

I decided that N+ was the next logical cert to get after reading lots of forum advice.

I am a reader, not a visual learner. Videos put me to sleep.

First book was Mike Meyer's All in One. Loved his slightly irreverent style. He gives a very broad overview and I enjoyed reading the book. Did all the chapter questions. He has supplementary online stuff sprinkled throughout the book, but I was on a tight schedule (3 weeks of medical leave) and it's not listed in the table of contents. The book comes with a very detailed glossary, a .pdf of the book on the CD, detailed study plans, and Total Tester software. Meyers includes some labs on the CD, but they are a teaser for buying his full version of the labs on his website. Meyer's book is direct and to the point. It was my essential foundation for passing the test. But I found some errors. And his chapter on subnetting did not help me at all.

I wanted lots of exposure to test questions, particularly after reading how hard this revision of the test is, with the reported 30% pass rate. So I bought Mike Meyers full question set for Total Tester for $75. It includes 950 test questions. I wanted more experience with the scenario-type questions, so I got Pearson IT's Hands-On Lab Simulator. If you answer their survey question, they give you money off your purchase. I got mine for $34.99. Lastly, I got Darrill Gibson's 400 page book of test questions.

I spent an entire day working through Gibson's entire book of 300 questions. I answered all the questions, took each test, and made notes on the things I missed. Since I'm a written word person, writing reinforces the learning. From the notes I made for review, I wound up with a 50 page review document. It helped. If you choose to go this route, your doc may be less or more, depending on how confident you are of your knowledge retention. I am very thorough in test prep because the test is so expensive, so my doc was rather long.

I highly recommend the Hands-On Lab Simulator. It includes 58 labs and was essential in preparing me for the test. It covers a key portion of the test that you won't find anywhere else in as much depth. It's also a bargain at the price. I would not have passed the test without it.

Various forum posts indicated that the Meyers book was just not enough, by itself, to pass the test. I went to amazon.com and read reviews. I picked Glen E. Clarke's Network+ Certification Study Guide, $36.25 on Amazon. It included a copy of the same Total Tester software, but with 561 questions. I love this book. The chapter on subnetting finally made subnetting clear, which alone was worth the price of the book. In addition to the Total Tester software, the CD included with the book has a .pdf copy of the book, a lab book, a performance-based questions book, and a quick review guide. These were essential and alone were worth the price of the book.

The book itself is a little odd. For the exercises in the text, he assumes you have access to a virtual machine, and copies of Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012. I learned that Amazon Web Services (https://aws.amazon.com/) offers access for a year to free virtual machines in the cloud. Included in the free tier are 2003, 2008 and 2012 versions of Windows Server. E2 is the section that features the VM servers. I didn't have a copy of Windows 8, but it wasn't essential for the test. A goodly portion of the book is taken up with these exercises, but it wasn't critical for the test. The other value in Clarke is that he goes into depth in some areas where Meyers doesn't, like subnetting, and some of the diagrams. His chapter questions required more thought, and were better prep for the test. I could not have passed the test without this book and the material on the CD. I will keep this book at hand for the server exercises, when I have the time. This book got my scores on the Total Tester software from the mid 80s to the low 90s. There is a checklist of topics from the test objectives. It was very useful.

My time window for taking the test was closing, so I scheduled the test. There were a few things I only glossed over, like IPv6, and I wasn't confident about subnetting, even after reviewing a variety of online resources. I had bought a CompTIA package that included a retake, so I felt that even if I failed, I would have at least seen the test, and would know how to better prep for a retake.

My experience with the test was daunting. As I read the first question, most of my confidence evaporated. Reading the second and third, the rest of it went. I'm an old hand at taking tests, so I flagged those questions and carried on. I went through the rest of the questions, flagging anything I thought was long or would take time. I wanted to see what the rest of the test was like, whether there would be many of the straight knowledge questions. I also kept an eye on the time, realizing that it was going to be critical. The majority of the test was straight knowledge questions. But there were plenty scenario/performance-based questions as well. I went thru all the questions, then went back to the nine flagged questions, working them one by one, again keeping an eye on the time. I finished with about two minutes left on the clock. I was confident that I had failed. I was so stunned to see “Pass” on the screen that I had to read it several times.


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    EdwinMobileEdwinMobile Member Posts: 9 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Congrats! Good job and best of luck icon_smile.gif
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    DAVIS NGUYENDAVIS NGUYEN Member Posts: 1,472 ■■■□□□□□□□
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    AndersonSmithAndersonSmith Member Posts: 471 ■■■□□□□□□□
    All the best,

    "Everything that has a beginning has an end"
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    EdTittelEdTittel Registered Users Posts: 2 ■□□□□□□□□□
    I just wrote a blog post about this writer's terrific story and resource sharing efforts. It will show up on GoCertify.com tomorrow, and I'll post a link at that time.

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    8thdegreepwnologist8thdegreepwnologist Member Posts: 45 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Congrats! How long did it take you to study for it? You didnt do all of that in just three weeks did you?
    Whats next?
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    ladyfire3374ladyfire3374 Member Posts: 14 ■□□□□□□□□□
    I was on medical leave for minor surgery, so I was able to devote entire days to studying. I used Toggl to track my time. I spent 103 hours on exam prep over 22 days. That averages to about 5 hours per day.

    My total cost for all the materials mentioned and the exam voucher (with the retake) was $550.

    Security+ is next, and looking for an IT job.
    Security+ will take longer because I have returned to work, but the time spent on Network+ gives me a ballpark idea on the time, and I can plan accordingly.
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    ladyfire3374ladyfire3374 Member Posts: 14 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Ed, thanks for linking to this. I hope people find it useful in guiding their own self-study.
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    EdTittelEdTittel Registered Users Posts: 2 ■□□□□□□□□□
    You're very welcome, and here's the link to the blog post: "The 'Bulldog Method' for CertPrep." I hope you find the canine metaphor complimentary of your methods and persistence, as I intended it to be. Thanks again for a great post!
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    desiree95desiree95 Registered Users Posts: 4 ■□□□□□□□□□
    im studying the network+ too. I have the online course but this is too boring for me and its really not helping. It shows a short video clip to summarize things or explain about the topic. I also have the book from CompTIA. I'm the type of person where I need hands on to really have things in my head and (writing stuff over and over again) so writing down notes 100X. Any suggestions of what I can do? I am looking into buying Meyers and Lab simulator. What else do I need or focus on to really get this on my head? I already have some background with I.T. Failed the A+801/802 by couple questions. Hellllppp....really desperately wanting certifications. I have a military background with computers and I don't want to waste that.
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    ladyfire3374ladyfire3374 Member Posts: 14 ■□□□□□□□□□
    A+ is really the foundation cert. I would concentrate on that - you're so close! Get some success!

    I worked in deskside support for three years and used A+ extensively. Had Network+ been available then, it would have been the next logical step for me. I was always learning and trying to gain more responsibility by demonstrating I did well with whatever they handed me. I love solving problems!

    First, you need a couple of good books. Read the forums here to see what has worked for others working on their A+. Amazon is my main source because they often have both new and used books. Be sure to get the edition for the current version of the test.

    You have a choice once you have gotten some books: either read one all the way through, taking notes on each chapter of the things you either don't know well, or suspect will be on the test. Or, print off a copy of the exam objectives and check off what you think you know. That will allow you to concentrate on your weak areas. It depends on how much time you have.

    Since writing helps you, create a document of notes you believe are important. Add your notes either while you are reading the chapter, or after you finish it. It should be a living document, one you are constantly adding to and revising if need be.

    To get hands on, buy some old computers off craigslist. I am working on a server cert and needed to build a network. I got three outdated Dells that came off corporate leases for about $50 each. Check out each component to see if it works. Uninstall and re-install drivers. Bust open the case and swap out parts to see what errors you get. Then fix them and verify your work. If your book has exercises, do them. Play around with any OS you can get your hands on. OS's are reasonably priced on ebay...you just have to make sure you are getting what you want, so read carefully.

    Once you have A+, start on Network+. Try using the plan and resources I outlined in my original post and tweak them to your needs. A lot of folks here find the Professor Messer videos helpful. They are free.

    If you've bought old computers, make a network using the basic networking setup in Windows. I made sure mine had the Pro version of Windows because I wanted to setup an Active Directory domain, and only Pro will join a domain. (Don't try to install Windows 10 on old hardware unless you just love agony, though it is quite the learning experience.)
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    greg9891greg9891 Member Posts: 1,189 ■■■■■■■□□□
    Upcoming Certs: VCA-DCV 7.0, VCP-DCV 7.0, Oracle Database 1Z0-071, PMP, Server +, CCNP

    Proverbs 6:6-11Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, Which, having no captain, Overseer or ruler, Provides her supplies in the summer, And gathers her food in the harvest. How long will you slumber, O sluggard?
    When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to sleep, So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler And your need like an armed man.
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    Dakinggamer87Dakinggamer87 Member Posts: 4,016 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Congrats!! :)
    *Associate's of Applied Sciences degree in Information Technology-Network Systems Administration
    *Bachelor's of Science: Information Technology - Security, Master's of Science: Information Technology - Management
    Matthew 6:33 - "Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need."

    Certs/Business Licenses In Progress: AWS Solutions Architect, Series 6, Series 63
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    R9 290XR9 290X Member Posts: 10 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Congrats! I am similar to you in terms of learning, I too take notes and can easily pass 50+ pages of notes. It's tedious but it seems to suit me.
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