Two years ago, I passed my CompTIA Network+ certification exam. It was the first tech certification I ever obtained, shortly before exiting the military. Time flies! I’ll be honest: it wasn’t my first attempt. I failed at the quiz once before passing the second time. Failing is never fun, but it did teach me how to better prepare for tech certification tests; you can read the general advice for that here.
By that same token, the failure opened my eyes to what needed more study. The Network+ test is nearly equal parts “understanding the concepts” and “rote memorization“. Understanding how to configure IP addresses and troubleshoot basic problems is handy, but you also need to have some information memorized, plain and simple. If you can be sure to memorize the necessary information for the following three points, then you will be that much closer to passing your test:
1) Know your cable connectors and types.
This is where I bombed the worst. The Network+ certification is supposed to show that you are equipped with knowledge of basic networking; to that end, they want to see that you know the basics of the equipment you’re working with. Can you describe what a cable does and where it goes simply by seeing the connector or hearing it’s description? Do you know the capabilities and limitations of different cables and how to account for them? You’ll need to in order to properly identify your cable connectors and types – there’s a lot more to networking than just CAT-5 ethernet cable.
2) Memorize the ports.
You need to memorize the major ports, their numbers, and what they do. Port 23? Telnet. What does it do? Allows a user to manage a computer remotely. This is the sort of information you’ll need to be able to recall. There are roughly 20 ports to memorize in all, so this is where flashcards really come in handy, which you can find at Quizlet.com. Make sure to study them “backwards and forwards”; as in, drill on both the front and back sides of your flashcards.
3) Know your OSI layers.
This segment is a little less memorization and a little more conceptual understanding. You can just memorize the OSI layer names and functions, but it will help significantly if you can wrap your head around the concept as a whole. You will naturally understand each layer and how they interrelate and it’ll improve your IT expertise in the long run. No matter the case, just be sure to get the OSI layers down and be prepared to answer questions about them on the test. For this, I think the Wikipedia article does a pretty good job of going over it all plainly. In addition, use some ever handy flashcards to nail down the finer points of memorization.
Focusing on these three aspects of the test, I nearly aced the Network+ exam on my second try. Ensure you can memorize the relevant information for the above points, and I can assure you that you will find the test that much easier!