By John Sonmez December 31, 2015

What Is The Best Way To Study And Pass Certification Exams?

There is a lot of talking about whether certifications are good for your career or not.

The fact is that certifications do not harm for your career and you may be interested in getting them. But what is the best way to study for these exams?

Is “studying the right way” the best strategy you could use to pass an exam? Or are there any other strategies you could use that could higher your chances of success?

 

Full transcript:

John:               Hey, what’s up? John Sonmez from simpleprogrammer.com. I’ve gotten a few different questions about passing various certification tests. I got this email—I’m not going to read the whole email because it’s sort of long but this is about passing the CCNA certification which is the Cisco Certified Network Administrator I believe certification. Anyway, this email that I got it comes from ____[inaudible 00:00:36], I don’t know, sorry.

Anyway, the question is about basically—he goes on to say that he has—has tried to take the exam. He used the Transcender test engine and it still failed the exam. He’s not sure if he wants to spend all this time. He’s been focusing on this for a long time, he feels like it’s going to take a long time to get the CCNA certification which is a pretty good certification for a network engineer I believe.

I’m going to kind of back up and answer this in general like how is the best way to pass this certification. I’ve passed a lot of certifications myself. I did all the Microsoft like the Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator back in the day and then Macintosh Certified Application Developer, all of these exams. Here’s the thing with these and this might not be the most popular opinion here but when you get these certifications usually they don’t really reflect on your ability to do what they’re supposed to be testing you on. What they reflect on is your ability to take the test.

You can try and study—and I’ve tried both ways. When I was first trying to get my Microsoft exam certifications I would study. I would study the material. I would read books on the subject and I just miserably failed the exam. I’ll be honest with you. I spent hours and hours of studying. And then I realized that—and I did use the Transcender product by the way at one point and that’s kind of the hint towards it which is I realized that I need to study for the exam because these exams cover a huge section of technology usually. It doesn’t matter how well you know it, they drill down into such small level details and they have certain types of questions it’s like practicing for the SAT for example.

What you want to do is you really want to study those questions and study those—that’s where these practice exams—you just want to go through as many practice exams as possible that have as accurate questions as possible. Transcender is probably a good one.

The other thing you could do and again this one is probably not extremely popular but I’m going to tell you straight up because I’m going to be totally honest here which is that you can look for brain dumps from the exam which is where people say what questions that they saw on the exam. Is this unethical? I don’t know, some people would say it is, but the thing is like you’re going to have similar questions. They mix up the exams but you need to understand what kind of questions are going to be on that exam and you’ve got to take every advantage that you can if you’re going to try and pass these exams and do it as efficiently as possible. I’m not saying don’t learn the material, but I’m saying like use these other advantages that you can.

The practice exams are probably the best way to go honestly, but I wouldn’t look down on you for looking at a few brain dumps from the exams to get that. again, I know that’s not going to be an extremely popular opinion, but hey, this is the practicality of it. These exams usually and these certifications usually don’t really test that you know the thing. They’re usually just a piece of paper that you’re getting. You have to still learn the thing.

Again, I’ve talked about certifications before. I’ve got a couple of videos on those whether I think they’re worthy. You can check out a video here on whether or not certifications are good. I’m not going to go into that right now but essentially it’s something that you have to test. You have to practice for the exam and you have to learn the questions that are going to be on the exam. It’s just one of those things.

I’ve done, like I said, at least over a dozen different tests for certifications and I found that just doing the straight studying approach never works. It’s never worked for me. I had to do the practice questions and I’ve looked at a few brain dumps myself and that’s been the thing that’s helped me the most. Again, did the exams really help me in my career? Not so much, but I got the paper, I got the stamp, so if you’re after the stamp I’m just telling you the best way to do it.

Anyway, leave a comment below. Let me know if you have a better way or if you’ve passed some exams what you’ve done, honestly, tell us and if you like this channel definitely subscribe. Talk to you next time.

 

 

 

About the author

John Sonmez

John Sonmez is the founder of Simple Programmer and a life coach for software developers. He is the best selling author of the book "Soft Skills: The Software Developer's Life Manual."