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Exam Review: CompTIA Network+ N10-004

Posted April 3, 2009

Topics: Certification, CompTIA

Hi everyone. Well, after holding on to my crusty Network+ title for almost 10 years, I decided to sit for the brand-spanking new 2009 version of the test to see what’s shaking with the new objectives. I think you will be exceedingly interested to learn what information I have to share.

First Impressions

To be perfectly frank with you, friends, my first impression of the 2009 Network+ exam was, “Wow—is this all there is?” I guess I felt that the exam was somewhat anticlimactic from both a content as well as a pedagogical point of view.

When I took the Network+ exam for the first time in 2000 I remember the test being exceedingly difficult. Of course I must remember that my skill set in 2009 is eons more advanced than it was nine years ago; that is true enough. Nevertheless, I somehow expected more from the exam from a ‘challenge’ viewpoint.

In reading the exam objectives prior to taking the test I expected to see drawn out troubleshooting scenarios—perhaps even case studies. Imagine my surprise to see what amounted to flash card-type items that required little more than factoid recall. “Couldn’t a trained chimpanzee pass this test?” I asked myself halfway through the Net+ exam session.

I need to tread careful ground here so that I do not violate the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that every CompTIA test-taker agrees to whenever he or she takes a CompTIA certification exam. To that end, I’ll not disclose specific details of the N10-004 exam. If you are looking for braindumps, you can (as my fellow native New Yorkers say so eloquently, “Fuhgetaboutit.”

CCENT vs. the Network+

In my opinion, the CompTIA Network+ exam is targeted, market-wise, at the entry-level IT professional. In response, Cisco offers the Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT). While I do not possess the CCENT, I do hold its “big brother,” the Cisco Certified Network Associate, otherwise known as the CCNA.

Let me be very, very clear about the comparisons sometimes made between the Network+ and the CCENT:

To my mind, the Network+ is a walk in the park compared to any Cisco Career Certification exam.

You can draw your own conclusions from there, friends. I don’t care how CompTIA’s or Cisco’s marketing departments spin their certification promotional materials. In my opinion, the Cisco entry level/associate exams are orders of magnitude more difficult than the CompTIA Network+ test. Why? Let us count the ways:

  • Cisco exam items involve complicated scenarios that involve your having to interpret network diagrams and Cisco router/switch output
  • CompTIA items involve extremely terse (brief) item stems and even shorter multiple choice answer sets
  • Cisco exam items include router and switch simulations that test your ability to actually use Cisco networking gear
  • CompTIA exams test your ability to regurgitate facts

Now it might sound as if I am harshly indicting CompTIA in general and the Network+ in particular. Let me be clear: We have all heard the expression “You get what you pay for.” CompTIA charges examinees a whopping $239 USD for the privilege of taking a crack at their Network+ exam and potentially earning the Network+ credential. What is your expected return on investment (ROI) for your time, money, and effort?

What I’m saying is if CompTIA publishes a “Mickey Mouse” exam and underqualified men and women pass this exam like gangbusters, how much harder is it for legitimately qualified folks to find gainful employment in an already crowded and ultra-competitive marketplace?

How to Pass the Network+ Exam

I am here to tell you that depending upon your current background with computer networking, you can pass the 2009 version of the Network+ exam (N10-004) simply by studying with two Pearson products. Here they are:

Hear me well: please don’t think I’m shilling because (a) I work for Pearson; and (b) I co-wrote the latter title. While I obviously want these products to succeed by virtue of my Pearson affiliation, I earn no extra royalty for any Pearson product that I develop or co-develop. I am, fundamentally and in my heart, a technical trainer with altruistic motives.

Now, then: If you are already an experienced network tech and are fluent in topics such as:

  • Ethernet cable specs
  • OSI layers
  • Protocols and ports
  • Network services
  • Network troubleshooting methods/tools

then I would suggest you start with the Flash Cards and use the Exam Cram title for spot-checking concepts with which you are still fuzzy.

Incidentally, you can download the full objective list for the N10-004 exam by visiting the CompTIA Web site.

If, on the other hand, you are on the newbie side of the fence, then I would recommend you take just the opposite tack. That is, dive into Mike Harwood’s textbook and read every single word of it. Study that puppy! Take all of the practice tests again and again.

Once you have internalized everything Mike has to teach you, finish with a flourish by consuming the flash card product. The flash card engine, after all, was designed as a “late stage” review to get your motor running as you approach the “finish line” in your cert studies.

Best of luck to y’all. I know you will PULVERIZE the 2009 Network+ exam. Get on over to the Pearson VUE Web site, buck up your $239, register, and get certified! Let me know how the test goes for you.

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