Network+ Post Exam wrap up

I took and passed the Comptia Network+ exam the other day (Friday March 14 2014) . My score was 820 on a scale of 100-900, passing being 720. This blog entry is a brain dump of what was on the exam, some opinions regarding it and a review of the materials I took during my study of the exam.

Background

I started my career in IT as a Computer Technician and took the Comptia A+ exam early in my IT career.  Not longer after that I changed  paths to systems development, since then I have had plenty of exposure to production support type of issues but not in a Network Admin type role. Never having taken a deep dive into the networking world, I found preparing for the Network+ exam pretty rewarding. I gained knowledge that will be well utilized as I move into  Architect type roles. I highly recommend individuals looking to advance their career in IT take this exam.

Disclaimer:

This is my experience from the test, obviously everyone’s will be different so take this all this with a grain of salt.

Section 1 of the Exam; The Simulation questions

My test began with 7-10 multi-part, interactive, drag and drop/fill in the details Simulation questions. By far this was the most difficult section of the exam, the worse part about this is their are so many little points to these questions and it is unclear how its graded. Dealing with these questions first was a little jarring, none of the online or book based practice exams contained these types of questions. By the 10th question or so I was convinced I was going to fail the Network+ exam. Eventually this simulation questions where over and the familiar multiple choice questions started. Looking back the fact that these are front loaded is probably a good thing, relatively speaking they are the most stressful part of the test.

Section 2; The Multiple Choice questions

The Network+ exam covered a diverse range (as expected) but their are 2 points that I noticed from this exam.

In general, the questions did not dive as deep as expected.  Considering the size of the content covered this should not be too surprising.

Some of the more modern networking subjects were not covered. For instance I do not recall any questions pertaining to IPV6, MPLS, Multicasting, Failover technologies or Virtualization.

Materials I used to prepare for the test

3 books where the foundation of my studies

  • The Comptia Authorized Network+® Certification Guide eBook authored by Kevin Wallace was a good general guide to the test and subject material.
  • Network Warrior by Gary O’Donoghue;  I found this book to be a great supplement whenever I needed some deeper understanding of a subject. I highly recommend the Network Warrior book in particular.
  • CompTIA Network+® Certification Practice Exams by Robb Tracy; This eBook is a collection of practice questions with an explanation of all the answers. I found the questions to be more difficult than most of the other Exam prep books and the exam itself.

From these I created my own study guide for the exam, this can be found here.

There were a number of websites and mobile apps I used that offered practice exams

Brain dump of the exam

1 question regarding recognizing a topology

A few basic switching questions

A few VLAN questions, one in particular about improving a VOIP situation by moving the VOIP traffic into a VLAN.

Nothing about STP, autonegotiation, trunking or multicasting,

A couple related to RJ45 standards; One question was a drag and drop that asked to put T-568B in the proper order, I was confident regarding the active cables Orange stripe, Orange, Green Stripe and Green at slots 1,2,3 and 6 but did not bother to memorize the blue and brown locations.

1 or 2 Power over Ethernet questions

Decent amount of Wireless LAN questions, In fact one of the simulations was a scenario to set the appropriate antennas for connectivity between 2 building and for the floor plans within the buildings.

Wireless LAN, VPN and Security in general  were well represented on the test but none of the questions where deep dive type of things.

There was an APIPA question

No Netbui or IPX questions

There was 1 or 2 routing protocol questions comparing the different types,

There was a question about NATing with Ports, answer being PAT

There were 1 or 2 Identify the device and its usage, for instance a TDR to identify a short in a cable. But there were no questions where an image of a tool or connector was displayed on the screen and the testee had to identify what it was.

1 RAID question

I was asked to identify ports for DHCP, SSH, DNS, SMTP and SNMP this was a drag and drop type questions where the question was the “useage” and drag the protocol and also its correlating port to an empty slot.  Example: Protocol used to securely connect to a terminal, one would be required to drag ssh and port 22 to the correct slots.

1 Email protocol and port questions

There were 2-3 voip related questions,

A couple of network troubleshooting questions where deciding on the correct order of steps was required

2-5 questions related to IP and subnets, some were easy (identify the class) others where the trickier subnetting type of questions. There was also a  CIDR question

 There was at least 1 identify the difference between cache engine, load balancer, type of questions.

There was a Syslog question

 I don’t recall if their was a single command line question, if their was it was so simple it wasn’t memorable.

There was a multiple choice tools question where NMAP was the answer

There was a RADIUS/TACAS+ question

Dont recall a single “Identify the attack” security question

There was an IDS question

1 or 2 Identify the Connector questions

A SONET size question , 1 DSL question, not a lot of WAN questions in general though.

1 DNS question regarding identify the usage A name, PTR record, MX, etc..

No Active Directory, Windows user account questions

Comptia Network+ study guide

Moving from a senior developer role to a tech lead/architect type of position has its challenges. Often developer positions have a somewhat limited amount of exposure to the administrative side of IT (comparable to a network admin/engineer). As a tech lead one is expected to be able to communicate competently with many different fields within the IT administrative world. A few months ago I began studying for the Comptia Network Plus certification exam as a means to broaden my knowledge in the administrative side of the IT field.

I found the process of preparing for the Network+ exam to be pretty fun. It was nice to get back into hardcore learning mode. I learned a lot, the amount of knowledge you beat into your head over this period of time is large and diverse.

I am taking the exam March 14th 2014 and will try to post back here with a comparison to what was on the test and the various sources I used to prepare. Posted here , is a link to the reference document I created during my studies for the Network+ exam. Feel free to leave a comment in the Google Doc if you find any problems or have suggestions