A+ Test is unfair

Discussion in 'A+ Certification' started by Scott Davies, Feb 13, 2004.

  1. Scott Davies

    Scott Davies Guest

    This A+ Certification test is remarkably unfair. In my class we used all
    sorts of different materials to offer loads of topics. Our main focus
    was on Mike Meyers oversized paper weight. This book was essentially
    useless. It could have been 50% smaller if he didn't go into over wordy
    ramblings. We were studying through November/December for the Hardware
    exam. THEN we were notified that the objectives for the test had just
    been updated a couple weeks before we were to take our test. The
    instructor scrambled to get the students copies of the "A+ CoursePrep
    ExamGuide" that supposedly covered the new objectives in a compressed
    form. The sad thing about this guide was that it was loaded with errors
    from page to page. The instructor and I had to varify many things by
    researching the internet and adding corrections on the requires pages.
    In one instance the choices were a-d. The answer in the back of the book
    was f!!! Anyway, I studied roughly 3 hours a day in this book to verse
    myself on everything, which included mountains of stuff we hadn't
    covered, which was the updated info. When test day came, anxiety was
    high. I was immediately horrified to see that question after question
    was not covered in the various texts I had read. I answered questions by
    breaking things down to logic and deduction, as well as trying to equate
    answers to the questions in some way. It was so unfair. By the end of
    the test, I would assume that only 10-20% of the material was covered in
    anything we read. Thankfully, logic paid off and I passed the test, but
    it was less from the reading and more from my own logic, which was not
    fair. What's worse is I was the only one in the class that passed.
    Everyone's morale went down as we began to study for the OS exam, which
    was to follow just under 2 months later. The instructor seemed to take
    the class failure hard and sort of gave up. We went into class and did
    nothing but study. Very few exercises were offered to us, which cause me
    some anger and resentment. The instructor did get one new copy of the
    updated Mike Meyers book, and photo copied the necessary chapters.
    Again, I found his chapters tedious and more irritating than helpful. I
    again studied in my exam guide, and other materials, insanely, but this
    time even more extreme. Test day was yesterday, and I was again
    horrified as question after question was unknown and unseen material. I
    trudged through it, reading many questions over and over and over. I was
    running low on time and had to speed things up a bit. By the end of the
    exam I was confident I failed miserably. Much to my surprise I received
    the 'Congratulations' screen. I was again helped mainly by logic and
    deduction, and a little help from the exam guide. The OS exam was more
    ridiculous, and at most I recognised 10% of what I saw. I have been told
    my logical mind will make me a good tech, but the exams are supposed to
    test ones knowledge, not logic skills. You're probably thinking "What
    are you complaining about, you passed both exams, and on your first
    attempt with only 3 1/2 months of class time?" The reason is because the
    subject material should be able to be covered properly in the reading
    materials. Another total class failure, aside from myself, means that
    something is wrong. Everyone studied hard, but it is not enough to pass
    the A+ exams. If you are nervous about taking these exams, you should
    be.

    Scott, A+ Certified - February 12, 2004
     
    Scott Davies, Feb 13, 2004
    #1
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  2. But that had been announced many months previously, and the new
    objectives released many months previously as well.

    Both you and your instructor should have been aware of this.

    The exam is, in my opinion, poor, but not for the reasons that you
    give. The application of logic and experince is not something to
    decry. Nor is the need to read questions carefully, winnow the wheat
    from the chaff and isolate the important from the unimportant: that's
    what ou'll do all the time in the IT industry.

    Congratulations on your pass.
     
    Gordon Findlay, Feb 13, 2004
    #2
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  3. Scott Davies

    Scott Davies Guest

    OK, maybe I should have titled my subject "The A+ objectives are too vague".
    I'm just frustrated about the sheer vagueness of what the test was to include.
    Not even the more focused study guide offered the amount of help that would have
    been necessary to score higher. For a minor example: You can read about what
    CHKDSK does in a basic sense, but when you're given questions about multiple
    combinations added to that command, and you didn't read about any, it can cause
    a problem. I don't doubt the instructor was a big blame. He had this over
    confidence that everyone would do just fine, and that was shot to hell when the
    reality was revealed. The A+ exam is just a portion of the course I am taking,
    and the instructor seems to be wanting to drop it for future classes. Like I
    originally said, he took it hard.
    And to Mr. Over reactionary that first responded to my post, I didn't expect the
    test to be easy, otherwise I wouldn't have studied for hours a day. I didn't
    blame Mike Meyers. I just stated his book was way too needlessly wordy. I can do
    without all the round about stories and analogies, and just deal with the facts.
    It would have been a much more tolerable read. I've seen many others online that
    were irritated by his book. My whole class saw it as a over glorified basic
    introduction, but not much beyond that. I also saw many others online
    complaining of the surprise topics on these exams. I don't know what the proper
    length of an average A+ course should be for people with virtually no background
    in IT. My experience previous to this course was just basic card and program
    installation at home, so I guess I should be quite proud of myself, especially
    since it took one of the IT techs at the school 3 tries before passing.
     
    Scott Davies, Feb 13, 2004
    #3
  4. If you are referring to switches, do you mean to tell us that the
    instructor didn't suspect that multiple switches on common, often-used
    commands wasn't a possibility?

    Tom
     
    Tom MacIntyre, Feb 13, 2004
    #4
  5. Scott Davies

    Scott Davies Guest

    Seriously, by the time of the OS info, the instructor had checked out. It was purely
    up to each student to figure it out for themselves on their own. The instructor was
    there to attempt to answer any questions we had, but that was about it. The most we
    did was 2 days of drilling as a class, just before the exam, using the practice exams
    on the CD with the latest Mike Meyers book. Those practices gave me some false
    confidence since most of the questions were surrounding what I had studied, but the
    exam was way different than the practice exams.
     
    Scott Davies, Feb 13, 2004
    #5
  6. Scott Davies

    RussS Guest

    Scott

    I have to agree with most here - your instructor and the place you studied
    sucked. However, if you had visited the Comptia site and viewed the exam
    objectives for yourself you would have had a better idea what to study for.
    You would have also seen that the objectives were changing slightly to bring
    them into somewhat current state.
    I think however your criticism of Mike Meyers book shows your attitude
    though. ""Our main focus
    was on Mike Meyers oversized paper weight. This book was essentially
    useless. It could have been 50% smaller if he didn't go into over wordy
    ramblings. "" You may consider those as ramblings, but in fact that are a
    friendly way to impart not only the knowledge to pass the actual exam, but
    to also help you understand how a computer works.
    There is not much use having an A+ cert if you have no idea how a bus
    operates and have no clue how to diagnose simple errors.
     
    RussS, Feb 13, 2004
    #6
  7. You say you just want to deal with the facts, so here goes :
    *FACT : The objectives are on the comptia website. They tell you in quite a
    bit of detail exactly what is on the test. Most of the books available are
    on the old objectives. It sounds like you've been studying an old book.
    *FACT : OS Objectives Domain 1.5 - identify the major operating system
    utilities, their purpose, location, and available switches.
    5th utility listed is CHKDSK. btw, "multiple combinations added to that
    command" = "switches"
    facts.
    *FACT : Mike's book is wordy because he's trying to teach you to be a good
    tech. If you're a good tech, you'll pass the exam. That's his approach, he
    says so in the book. It sounds like you really COULD have done with all the
    round about stories and analogies, from what you're saying.
    *FACT : the A+ is meant to be aimed at techs with 6 months on the job
    experience. ("On the job" means reading, studying and learning too. If you
    end up working in IT you'll find that "oversized paperweights" are as much a
    part of your life as network cables and RAM sticks ;-))
    *NOTFACT but true anyway ;-) : If the staff can't pass the test, there's
    something wrong.

    *FACTSSSS : Any school that teaches A+ should be in touch with what's going
    on with the exam. The new exam started at the end of November. You say you
    were still studying the old objectives through December? This is outrageous!
    ImhoTech is absolutely right. You need to see a lawyer. That is negligent
    beyond belief.

    I'm not criticising you for not knowing all this - your school should have
    told you. They blatantly haven't got a f&cking clue what they're doing.

    JM
     
    Jonathan Miles, Feb 13, 2004
    #7
  8. Scott,

    This is all simply the nature of the beast. You have to understand that the
    A+ Exam is designed to
    test the knowledge of a tech rep with an actual year to year and a half's
    experience. Many things
    that you don't learn in a classroom you learn from experience. This is the
    reason why you often
    hear some people complain about "paper" A+'s or MSCE's. They seem to somehow
    resent the
    fact that someone could just step into an academic discipline, without any
    real world experience,
    be good at remembering facts, and pass the test.

    The fact is that the A+ exam can be incredible difficult or incredibly easy.
    I personally have over
    twenty years of hands on experience with PCs. My first computer was the good
    'ol Apple IIe. I must
    have taken that thing apart and put it back together seven ways from Sunday
    over time. I avidly
    read PC magazines and books, started a BBS system in the 90's, I've put
    together countless systems,
    and even started an online PC integrator company (which by the way failed
    miserably :). In addition,
    I've done tech support with Gateway and whenever someone's crap breaks, I'm
    the first one they run
    to to try and fix it. My point in all this is that I have a lot of 'hands
    on' experience. In the past I've bought
    A+ books (Including Myers' 4th ed - which I loved) and have taken numerous
    practice tests. I usually
    passed them by a nice margin too.

    But........................ when I recently took a local 3 week course (paid
    for by our unemployment
    commission as Gateway gave us all the axe) things had changed drastically!
    Somehow my text scores
    had gone from usually very nice to barely passing or even flunking about 30%
    of the time!These tests
    had become seriously specific and technical. Here I am with the ability to
    fix just about anything PC
    and I'm flunking the crap out of tests because I don't know such things as
    the physical size of a particular
    Mobo, or which pin in this connector connects with which pin on a crossover
    cable, or what the friggin
    hexadecimal address is of a particular device's BIOS! I mean, who knows this
    crap!? Those are the
    sorts of things that reference manuals are for. But as long as the knowledge
    is within the field of PCs,
    it's fair game for the A+ exam. This very fact alone makes the test
    "potentially" very difficult. That is why
    books like Meyer's text weigh five pounds and come 1000+ pages thick. It's
    ridiculous because any
    of 10,000 facts are possible test points on the exam.

    So as it turns out, one guy gets very basic questions on the actual exam and
    passes with flying colors so
    he comes back into this forum and shouts out to all that "man this test was
    easy!" At the same time
    another person gets a test that asks 30 out of 80 questions that he's never
    seen or heard of before, he
    fails, and shouts out that "this is the most ridiculous and unfair test I've
    ever seen!" Any and all experiences
    between the two extreme can and does happen all day. That is why experience
    makes such a difference.
    It make it easier because of familiarity.

    I just took and passed my core test yesterday but my score was only 630 out
    of 900. Personally I was
    glad I passed but very disappointed in my score. But that's life. there are
    just too many facts that you could
    be tested on, from the ultra simplistic to the ridiculously technical, and
    some of it you will have never heard
    of before. So don't blame the teachers. They can't possibly cover all you
    would need to know even in four
    months of classes. That's one reason I don't believe in those expensive two
    and three week classes. You
    couldn't possibly learn much of anything from them because you're too busy
    flying over the highlights just to
    cover all the objectives. All you can do is get as much hands on experience
    as you can and study your A--
    off and hope for the best! Congratulations on your pass and don't let it
    stress you out. You no doubt have
    many more ten pound books to look forward to in your IT future!

    David Bland
     
    David BlandIII, Feb 14, 2004
    #8
  9. This is true, even if they hadn't been teaching you the wrong course for 4
    months!

    JM
     
    Jonathan Miles, Feb 14, 2004
    #9
  10. Scott Davies

    rock Guest

    Shoot, I passed both tests using nothing but Mike Meyers book, and
    prior experience. And found both tests absurdly easy, I have never had
    any formal training in the computer field at all either.
     
    rock, Feb 14, 2004
    #10
  11. Scott Davies

    jeff Guest

    You know, I have to agree with this logic. The test should have some
    indication of what you need to know other than the bland objectives.
    Its okay if that covers hordes of material but lets face it, if not
    for the commercial exam books and second hand info would any of us
    have a clue?
     
    jeff, Feb 14, 2004
    #11
  12. Scott Davies

    Gary Guest

    Did you take any practice exams? They are a pretty good barometer as
    to what material your weak on and what to expect on the exam. The A+
    exams are not hard but you do have to put some prep time in if you
    want to pass.
     
    Gary, Feb 14, 2004
    #12
  13. Let's look at that for just a minute.

    A - The A+ is supposed to be equivalent to 6 months of experience, or
    so I recall. That's 26 weeks, 40 hours a week, more or less. That's
    1040 hours, but let's call it 1100. Keep in mind that on-the-job,
    while being the best way to learn over the long term, is generally not
    as concentrated or intense as most good school situations, or for that
    matter a good self-study situation either. This is due to much
    repetitive and mundane activity typical of most work settings.

    B - Let's assume a 32 hour school week, including lab/hands-on and
    classroom time, for 4 months/17 weeks. That's 576 hours. We need
    another 524 hours over 17 weeks, or another 31 hours a week. Given the
    difference in intensity, one could guesstimate that 20 hours of
    homework is enough. That certainly is not unreasonable, especially for
    a 4 month period, and 31 isn't either for an unmarried and unemployed
    person. Many disciplines in a "formal" education setting must maintain
    a much more rigorous and gruelling schedule, with more difficult
    material, for a much longer period of time.

    I think 4 months is reasonable if there is sufficient discipline and
    focus. Let's look at it another way...

    The Mike Meyers AIO is generally recognized (albeit with some
    dissenters) as being an excellent start-from-the-ground-floor method
    of attaining the A+. The book is 1400 pages or so. Let's say that
    reading that book will be 60% of your self-study program, with the
    other 40% being hands-on and (towards the end) possibly practice
    tests. Here is the breakdown for how many pages per hour you'd have to
    cover over 17 weeks (I'll round off pages per hour to the nearest
    0.1)...

    Total study time Meyers book Pages per hour

    20 hours/week 12 hours/week 6.9
    25 hours/week 15 hours/week 5.5
    30 hours/week 18 hours/week 4.6
    35 hours/week 21 hours/week 3.9

    Unreasonable? No, possibly/probably even on the low side. Let's look
    at this in reverse...start with how many pages per hour we can read
    with comprehension and retention.

    Pages per hour Total study time Total study time
    (17 weeks) (10 weeks)

    10 14 hours/week 23 hours/week
    15 9 hours/week 15.6 hours/week
    20 7 hours/week 11.7 hours/week

    This also looks doable...or does it? You decide. I haven't timed
    myself in reading for awhile, and it will vary from person to person.
    All I can say is...I believe that there are people who can follow a
    schedule such as this, so it's not like it's impossible. There's at
    least one other element, though (and probably several more as well
    that haven't occurred to me)...

    In some educational settings the pace is based on who is the slowest
    to catch on, and in some it's based solely on how much time is
    required to cover the material, depending on attrition to take care of
    the weak members of the "herd". What is the typical approach in a
    private or public school setting? I don't know; my last formal
    classroom training was in 1982. :)

    Comments?

    Tom
     
    Tom MacIntyre, Feb 14, 2004
    #13
  14. Scott Davies

    jeff Guest

    "Shoot, I passed both tests using nothing but Mike Meyers book, and
    prior experience. And found both tests absurdly easy, I have never had
    any formal training in the computer field at all either."(Rock)

    The world of commander McBragg.
     
    jeff, Feb 14, 2004
    #14
  15. Tom that was a course in itself! :) I typically pace myself using the 'ol
    pages per day method also.
    I'll usually pick a timeframe, divide the no. of pages in the book I'm
    reading by that no of days and
    go for it! On technical stuff I generally prefer not to exceed 10 pages a
    day (double sided) which
    means 20 pages a day. So a 1400 page book would take me 2 1/2 months to
    complete, which is
    about exactly how long I took to read Meyer's book before taking my test :)

    My point was that even that much material isn't everything you'll need to
    know in the field. It's a
    constant learning process. And to my knowledge, none of these certification
    oriented classes
    last anywhere near that long. So to expect any teacher in any situation like
    that to teach you
    specifically all that you need to know to pass one of these exams is pure
    folly.
     
    David BlandIII, Feb 15, 2004
    #15
  16. LOL. I liked that guy when I was a kid :)
     
    David BlandIII, Feb 15, 2004
    #16
  17. Scott Davies

    rock Guest

    Ya know, it is lirteraly the truth, but if ya don't believe me why do
    you think i should care, i have my certs.
     
    rock, Feb 15, 2004
    #17
  18. Scott Davies

    Rick Rottman Guest

    Which exams are the best and which are the ones that are waste of
    time? I assume that not all practice exams are created equal. Anyone
    know?

    - Rick

    Needs More Cow Bell
     
    Rick Rottman, Feb 15, 2004
    #18
  19. How ironic is it though, that to get inot the field to get the experience,

    You'd be surprised my friend. My cousin works for the Department of Human
    Services in
    Texas and she is the Manager of the LAN Support team. Know what her
    credentials include?
    She has a degree in Business. She oversees a staff of 14 techs who travel
    throughout the city
    responding to LAN problems and general PC repair problems. You know what all
    of them
    have in common? Not a one of them has so much as an A+ certification! That's
    right. I kid
    you not.

    Not too long ago, in PC ancient history (circa 1980- 1990) many people got
    their jobs by someone
    saying "hey Joe's pretty good at fixing PCs. Let's give him the job," or
    "what computer experience
    do you have?........ Well I'm usually the guy my neighbors come to to fix
    their computers. You're
    hired!" I know it sounds funny but it's absolutely true. In today's
    competitive downsized PC tech
    support job environment, yeah, certification is becoming almost a
    requirement. But that wasn't the case
    not so long ago and it still isn't universally true even today. I still see
    job postings stating things
    like "A+ or MCP certification preferred."
     
    David BlandIII, Feb 15, 2004
    #19
  20. Scott Davies

    jeff Guest

    I stumbled upon a gamer board in which I was blessed to read posts in
    which 15 year olds are boasting about 'acing' both A+ tests without
    studying and going on about how easy and ridiculous the Cisco exams
    are. Its also fun to read about scores up into the low thousands, I
    guess you get extra credit questions if you get 80 out of 80.
    I guess I would rather learn about the test honestly and in turn help
    others out after I've taken it than to come on these boards and go on
    about how brilliant I am.
    Sorry if I am a bit cynical, but the amount of immediately pinpointed
    hogwash really sours these boards.
    Don't give any false impressions. If you walk into one of these tests
    without some indepth study your going to fail. That being said, if I
    can pass it anyone can, if they put in the time.
     
    jeff, Feb 15, 2004
    #20
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