So far I feel I could have prepared better...How do you prep

Im not wayneIm not wayne Member Posts: 49 ■■□□□□□□□□
So I have a few certs and I always feel I could have prepared better(I know I could have on two occasions), I end up reading the book- no practice tests or nothing and just some light review then I go and take the test. I think I need to get better at exam prep so I ask the TechExams community- How do you prep for a test?
A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

70-270- Book in progress
70-290- coming soon
70-291- coming soon
70-293- coming soon
70-294- coming soon


  • blargoeblargoe Self-Described Huguenot NC, USAMember Posts: 4,174 ■■■■■■■■■□
    For me: Learn by doing. By using the product and not just reading books and taking practice tests. Even if it is a product you use regularly, there are certainly concepts being tested that you are weaker in, and could mess around with to gain an better understanding.
    IT guy since 12/00

    Recent: 11/2019 - RHCSA (RHEL 7); 2/2019 - Updated VCP to 6.5 (just a few days before VMware discontinued the re-cert policy...)
    Working on: RHCE/Ansible
    Future: Probably continued Red Hat Immersion, Possibly VCAP Design, or maybe a completely different path. Depends on job demands...
  • techgeek07techgeek07 Member Posts: 42 ■■□□□□□□□□
    For me, learn by doing would be optimal. But, as for my current situation, I won't have the chance to. Study, study, study. Take every test you can find. Keep a book at your side, put your first answer in, and then look it up. Wash, rinse, repeat (roughly 3000 times). As someone who has failed before, at the worst possible time, I might add (rushed it, and wasted the money on the exam). Take your time and learn it. GL in whatever you choose to go for.
    Please excuse any spelling errors, I speak well, but, write like a five year old
  • tjcassertjcasser Member Posts: 38 ■■□□□□□□□□
    For me, "learn by doing" gets me about 80% of the way - there's just things that I never do use when I'm learning something. For the last 20%, I end up having to either find online study guides or make a run to the bookstore, and then it's a matter of taking copious notes on index cards to get it to melt into my brain.

    Once I feel like I know what I'm doing, I start taking practice tests (when available) every few days to chart my progress at absorbing the information and help me reassess my studying priorities. I keep saying I'm going to stop doing tests the night before - it inevitably freaks me out - but...
    MCTS: .NET Framework 2.0 Windows Applications
    MCTS: .NET Framework 2.0 Web Applications
    MCTS: .NET Framework 2.0 Distributed Applications
    MCPD: .Net Framework 2.0 Enterprise Applications
  • nicktfnicktf Member Posts: 8 ■□□□□□□□□□
    I get a good book, and open a copy of notepad, then key in the syllabus and break it into chunks. Next each of those chunks is expanded upon with reference to the book, and usually a Virtual Machine or too for areas which I wouldn't encroach upon during my working day. For some things (SUS for 70-292 springs to mind), just reading about it was sufficient, for bigger topics, such as DNS, then there isn't really a substitute for hands on + previous experience.

    Once this is done, I'll refine my notes down to about 10-12 sides, with clear headings.

    Then do the practise tests as these can highlight bits that you might have glazed over whilst reading. These expose the weaknesses, which can be learned and the notes further revised. After a couple of weeks, you should have a short, handy guide, probably only comprehensible to yourself.

    If you are *lucky* enough to be doing MS exams and only have a VUE test centre locally, you may also get the benefit of having to take an 1hr 10m train ride to the nearest Prometric centre, which gives good cramming time. icon_evil.gif

    ..Oh, and don't do the exam until, in your heart of hearts, you believe you are ready. If you think you know "just enough", chances are you don't!
  • Vogon PoetVogon Poet Member Posts: 291
    2 books (main book, usually Syngress, turned into PowerPoint flashcards)
    2 practice tests
    (follow along with books in home lab)
    Overprepare! I always assume that Microsoft wants me to fail so I have to take it again and they can get more money out of me. Not gonna happen.
    No matter how paranoid you are, you're not paranoid enough.
  • GregDGregD Member Posts: 25 ■□□□□□□□□□
    I do a lot of things.

    I take the classes when offered, because it's nice, at least on the cisco side of things, to be able to work in the lab and get a feel for technology you might not always have a chance to experiment with, even if you work on cisco equipment.

    I also do a whole lot of self study, because while in the classes, I don't really learn anything from lectures - I can't focus on the voice of someone speaking in a monotone for four hours a night. So the classes are pretty much solely for the lab experience.

    The self study is mostly over books and practice exams. I might find a couple of online resources that provide help, so I'll read those, as well.

    For me, I can memorize stuff from the book all I want, but I still won't really know it - I have to apply it, and see how it works in at least a virutalized real world example to really get it.
    CCNA - Complete
    CCNP - BCMSN, ONT Complete.

    Up Next - ISCW, BSCI
  • mrjmrj Member Posts: 85 ■■□□□□□□□□
    I don't go into a test unless I know I can pass it.

    You know when you're ready.

    Of course, I won't say I've never "been ready" and failed a test, that's definitely happened.
  • ketch.ubetchaketch.ubetcha Member Posts: 5 ■□□□□□□□□□
    I study by reading the book and highlighting. Then I go back after I am all done and relook to see anything I miss (in the heat of highlighting). I study the hightlighted areas. Practice tests are good, it helps me see if I retained any information that I studied.

    Then I use any simulation software that may come with the books to help me with how things "flow".

    After that it is hold on tight icon_lol.gif
  • dstock7337dstock7337 Member Posts: 95 ■■■□□□□□□□
    My study tips:
    Lots of books, Sybex, Microsoft/Cisco/<Insert Vendor Name> official training books/kits, CBTs (awesome since you get lectures, quizes, and even simulators!), use virtual machines! I've had official cert training only through Veritas (Symantec) because it was company mandated and I was to be the backup administrator for my small enterprise (~1000 users with branch locations). I've also had training through EMC, and multiple vendors (including AMD, Intel, Microsoft, HP, Apple, Kodak, etc). Honestly, hands on experience is best. Use the material you study (you'll only retain about 20% of that tops - human psychology limitations.
    Experience in a test enviroment or on the job, is going to cement that foundation. Try getting Vmware or Virtual PC to setup virtual machines

    Everyone is different, what works for some may not for others. Sometimes the whole process can be trial and error. I've found that when I've failed an exam, I've learned more about the subject matter. What doesn't kill me makes me stronger - and frustrated at times.

    Whatever you choose, good luck and welcome!
    "The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing." - Socrates
  • dstock7337dstock7337 Member Posts: 95 ■■■□□□□□□□
    nicktf wrote:
    If you are *lucky* enough to be doing MS exams and only have a VUE test centre locally, you may also get the benefit of having to take an 1hr 10m train ride to the nearest Prometric centre, which gives good cramming time. icon_evil.gif

    ..Oh, and don't do the exam until, in your heart of hearts, you believe you are ready. I've you think you know "just enough", chances are you don't!

    icon_rolleyes.gif I have the wonderful experience of being 30+ miles away from VUE and prometric (Ironically at the same test center). Since I have to drive, the time to study has to be before hand. :P It's cool though, that drive gives me time to headbang to some awesome kickin' music before taking my test. Most of the time, that the head motions make the wrong answers fall out of my head but I've lost a few correct answers too. icon_lol.gif
    Also if I fail, I can play my angry music. allout.gif
    Well, at least there is a mall near there with a Movie Theatre, in case my provider's server locks up again and the proctor doesn't want to listen to a network administrator (ahem, me) on how to fix it. icon_rolleyes.gif Read my wonderful story about that here:
    "The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing." - Socrates
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