Certification CompTIA A+

I passed my A+ Certification exams

I took and passed my CompTIA A+

Certification Exams today. Which, in theory, means I am now A+ certified … or at

MCTS Certification, MCITP Certification

Microsoft Commptia A+ Training , Comptia A+ Certification and over 2000+
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least I will be in a few weeks when the actual certificate arrives in the mail.

Fortunately or unfortunately, the Community College where I took the exams is

not yet set up for the new 2006 version of the A+ (“Essentials” + “Technician”)

so I took the 2003 version (Hardware + Operating Systems). The hardware test was

just about what I expected it to be – which connector goes where, how to resolve

IRQ/DMA conflicts – but the OS exam?

Lamest. Test. Evar.

I lamented in my last blog entry that the CCNA is annoyingly tied to Cisco

hardware. I didn’t state it outright, but the underlying problem is not the

Cisco-centric tests, but that the community uses

CCNA Exams as a measure of networking

proficiency, while networking theory isn’t even the majority of the test. The A+

OS exam takes this to a whole new level – a large number of questions are of the

form “what is the sequence of buttons to click in this specific version of

Windows to do this specific task?”. There were very few questions that just

asked if you knew what the program/snap-in/window name was that you were trying

to get to.

Is it just me, or does it seem profoundly useless to know the series of clicks

to get from Point A to Point B for a specific operating system?

To answer my own question, I can see one scenario: blind tech support. You’re on

vacation, roped in on a 5.12 overhang in Joshua Tree, when work calls and you

need to walk the mail room clerk through how to troubleshoot the company

firewall. Admittedly, my example is absurd, but so is the expectation of blind

tech support. First, tech support people follow scripts for a reason. Second,

the level of knowledge required to pass the other parts of the A+ exam is far

beyond a tech-support-monkey level.

There’s one specific question that I will remember for a long time that I would

kill to be able to repost, because it didn’t even make an ounce of sense and

required you to just randomly pick an answer. However, the first rule about A+

is that you don’t talk about A+. They can yank your certification if you

reproduce any of the questions. And I figured I ought to at least have the

certificate in-hand before I do anything that dumb.

Whereas I said that getting prepped for the CCNA and taking the courses would

help just about anyone … I can’t honestly say the same thing about the A+ exams.

I’d hire someone who was A+ certified for just about any sort of tech support

position, but I don’t think it would sway my opinion for any other job. It’s a

good measure that the certified person has the ability to retain esoteric trivia

that will be obsolete before they take the test, but not much else.

I guess I’m spoiled. I loved the ColdFusion certification exam. I walked away

from that exam with an elated and exhausted feeling. I knew that I knew my

stuff. There were a few questions that I thought were beyond esoteric, mostly

having to do with attributes of the various cfform control tags, but I could see

why they were asked. I haven’t retaken the CF exam since I originally got

certified back in ’97-’98, so it might completely suck now for all I know. But

still – to me, that was the gold standard of certification exams.

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