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Preparation

The best way to get ready for these exams is to prepare thoroughly.
There are several useful websites where you can download practice exams.  Most websites I visited offer the study guides and practice exams at no charge.  However, certblaster.com offers an exam prep program for $159.00 with a $10.00 off coupon.  Another site, mhprofessional.com offers a certification exam guide for $60.00.  They are currently offering a sale price of $48.00.

It is suggested that you take 30-45 days to prepare for taking the exam.  It is also suggested that you prepare yourself to “do the job” instead of just to “take a test”.  If you prepare with this in mind, you should have no problem in passing.

Each exam contains 90 questions, and should take 90 minutes or less to complete.   The 700 series exams contain only multiple-choice questions, while the 800 series exams contain both multiple-choice and performance-based questions.   The performance-based questions will prompt a candidate to perform a task or problem-solve in a simulated IT environment.

Tips to pass the exam:

Become familiar with the CompTIA exam objectives.  Download and read through the official exam objectives outlined by CompTIA.
Buy a prep book.  These books contain practice materials that will be helpful in preparing for the exam.
Become familiar with the inside of a computer.  Take apart and rebuild an old computer.  Become familiar with the connections, cabling and how everything fits & works together.
Use additional study resources on the internet.  There are plenty of good review materials that can be downloaded for free including, videos, tutorials, and pictures.
Use free cram guides.  These guides should be used mainly to review material you already learned.  Most cram guides don’t cover material in enough detail, this is meant to be a supplement.
Take practice exams.  This is an excellent way to prepare for the real thing.  Practice exams contain questions that are very similar to the ones that will appear on the actual exam.  The practice exam allows you to review your answers and focus on improving the “weak spots”.

Once you are ready to take the exam, be sure to purchase your exam voucher.  The exam voucher is a code that will allow you to take the exam at the test center.  There are several ways to purchase and pay for your voucher.  One way is to visit the CompTIA marketplace especially if you are purchasing one or several exam vouchers.  Another choice is to pay for your exam if you schedule your test using the Pearson VUE website. Testing centers also allow purchases at their location. Credit cards, PayPal, and purchase orders are acceptable payment methods.

On test day, be sure you are well-rested.  Eat a good meal before taking the test, arrive a bit early, & have a positive attitude.  It is also recommended that you take both sections of the exam back to back on the same day.

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Lessons from a CompTIA test-taker

The experience Zach Monroe of Train Signal Training (pluralsight.com) had proved interesting.  Zach failed the exam the first time he took it because he wasn’t prepared.  He had been out of the IT field for a while and his skills were “rusty”.  Zach thought it would all come back to him and that was a big mistake.  Zach decided to “right the ship” the next time around and prepare. What worked for Zach was to watch ComptTIA A+ training videos.  While watching, Zach took notes, re-watched parts of the video that he didn’t fully grasp and spent twenty or thirty minutes each evening reviewing his notes.  The next thing Zach did was to take apart and rebuild computers and printers to prepare for the performance-based questions.  Next, Zach took practice exams.  Zach answered some of the questions, took a look at the answers of the questions he missed, and researched why the correct answer is correct and why his answers were incorrect.  In Zach’s case, it took him less than 2 months to pass both exams and become certified.

IT Communities

CompTIA’s website, comptia.org has an array of IT communities available.  Some of these communities are, advancing women in IT, cloud community, future leaders community, IT security community, IT services and support community, managed print services community, & managed services community.  Each of these communities has its own set of leaders, goals, and industry-specific forums to help better your understanding of your field.

If you choose to become a CompTIA member, it shows a commitment to learning and personal success in the IT field.  The benefits are geared toward providing members with resources that have an impact toward member organization.  CompTIA membership also means contributing.  It’s the members who drive the programs through participation, and sharing of best practices.  CompTIA members use each others’ expertise and experience.  Each member brings something different and this is what makes CompTIA strong.

Why get certified?  Good question and here are some good answers to this question.  The majority of candidates seeking well-paying IT jobs are not qualified as of yet.  CompTIA certifications help identify and train knowledgeable as well as match them with potential employers.  Many employers know CompTIA.  If you have these credentials when you come to an interview, the employer knows you have the skills to do the job, a commitment to your career, and a commitment to continue learning.

Potential Salaries

According to payscale.com, a CompTIA certified technician has some nice earning potential. The following is a list of salary ranges by job:

IT Manager $44,076 – $97,493.

    – Systems Administrator $41,085 – $79,398.

Network Engineer $42,675 – $89,013.

IT Specialist $33,305 – $69,371.

Network Administrator $37,946 – $74,851.

Local Test Centers & Locations

There are many CompTIA test centers.  Below is a list of local Milwaukee area test centers.

MATC
700 W State St
Room S215
Milwaukee WI 53223

YWCA Southeast Wisconsin
334 W Brown St
Milwaukee WI 53212

UMOS, Inc
2701 S Chase Ave
Milwaukee WI 53207