Microsoft software products dominate the business world and the skills to administer Microsoft networks and systems are always in high demand. Certification training can be vigorous, especially if you are maintaining full employment and trying to do both. It’s important to allow yourself the ample time and studying to pass the certification tests. But be assured that all of the test can be retaken with the right mindset. Here are some tips to help:
1. Start with a written goal. This is usually done with good time management skills and evaluating how much time you will be able to devote to the program. Save yourself time and money by setting appropriate goals that can be obtained in a time frame you set for your learning pace. Most likely, you will be required to take multiple exams in order to obtain the final certification. Pinpoint the final certification that is your goal and learn about any prerequisite exams required. For example, an entry-level security technician may need a CompTIA Security+ exam, but that might call for taking an A+ and Network+ exam first. You can always prepare for the Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA) exam with a few CompTIA exams and then apply those CompTIA exams as MCSA electives.
2. Allow study time. Don’t jump into an exam thinking your knowledge base will be a sufficient resource. With the pace of technological developments it is almost impossible to know what or how new the material will be. Students often know the technology and how to use it, but, since they are self-taught or are using the systems at a fast pace, there may not be a chance to learn the verbiage and technology lingo needed to answer specific questions. It can easily be compared to someone who speaks a different language. They could be 100 percent fluent but not know the dictionary definitions of certain words or phrases.
3. Choose appropriate learning material. Pay close attention when perusing local Borders or Barnes & Noble book stores. Exam administrators have a history for changing their exams periodically, and book publishers are behind in updating exam editions. If you want to sit to test for the CompTIA Network+ 2009 exam (N10-004), make sure you’re not buying study guides for the 2007 version (N10-003). The earliest N10-004 editions won’t be appearing until mid-April 2009 at the earliest.
4. Know the refund and reschedule policies. Schedule the exam a few weeks out giving yourself room if something urgent comes up. If you have other obligations on the exam date, it may not be the best day for a comprehensive exam. Individual testing sites provide some room in changing date/time, but you should familiarize yourself with any change policies and/or fees for rescheduling or canceling and receiving a refund. Last-minute cancellations are typically non-refundable.
5. Give yourself time to recover if you don’t pass the exam. You can usually improve the odds of a successful retest by focusing on the areas where you scored weakest, which are usually provided to you. Some exam sites will not give you specific questions you missed but they can tell you overall areas to focus on in studying for next time.