Friday, 25 January 2013

CompTIA Linux+ certification - annoyances

First problem was to find a preparation manual that is up to date, approved and custom tailored for the exam.
From both LPI and CompTIA it looked like the latest manual that had their approval was published in 2009, whilst the most recent was released in 2010 but without any endorsements from CompTIA or LPI.
So... I chose the 2009 one, thinking that maybe things didn't change that much and, at least it was approved once.

At the first exam day (there are 2 exams required), I could divide the 60 questions in 4 categories:

1. The one I knew the answer for
2. The ones I thought I knew the answer for
3. The ones I knew the answer for but I forgot it
4. The ones I never knew the answer, nor that even there is a question :)

Surprisingly, quite a few were in the 4th category which was really annoying after knowing that I've read the book thoroughly.

Another unpleasant surprise was the fact that about one third of the questions needed free text input instead of just checking boxes or radio buttons! There are two cons here:
  • Even in the real life, in Linux you have the "tab" key that helps you auto-complete a command that you might not remember entirely; so why would anyone make the exam more bitchy than the real life?
  • And then: are the automatic scoring scripts 100% capable to decide the answer is good or bad, if your entry is free text?
I actually had questions in both exams that could have been answered in two ways, both ok. One example:

In some versions of the "route" command it is accepted "gateway" instead of "gw".
So, the following two lines should be both accepted:
route add default gw
route add default gateway

Do they take into consideration all good possible answers?

The answer is: nobody knows...

I wrote to them asking this question and giving them the examples I had encountered in my exam. They preferred to answer :
"Unfortunately we cannot disclose any particular aspect of specific exam questions as they are proprietary and confidential in nature. As a reminder, CompTIA’s candidate non-disclosure agreement which appears at the beginning of all exams, prohibits candidates from disclosing or discussing exam content."

Ok. Fuck you too. How can be MY results confidential toward ME? How can I not be able to discuss MY results with YOU?

Anyway, having this experience from the first exam, I have studied from the newest book for the second exam. Moreover, this time I have taken the exam objectives that were released by CompTIA in August 2012 and looked over the internet and man pages for info on all the topics listed in the exam objectives but not covered in the book(s) I have. This almost doubled my preparation work.
Even so, some of the questions from the second exam have fallen in the 4th category again. Fewer, but still...

I think it is inadmissible to have no book on the market that covers indeed the whole exam.

Speaking about the books, on a funny note let me show you an excerpt from the appendix of "LPIC-1 Linux Professional Institute Certification Study Guide, Second Edition, Wiley Publishing 2009", the part that indicates the system requirements for running the contents of the cd (i.e. the book's pdf, the "sybex test engine", etc):

"System Requirements
Make sure your computer meets the minimum system requirements shown in the following list [...]
- A PC running Microsoft Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows NT4 (with SP4 or later), Windows Me, Windows XP, or Windows Vista

Hmm, Linux study guide you said?


  1. So I am not insane, thank you!!

  2. After completing the Exam November 2015 - updated versions LX0-103 & LX0-104, I agree totally with your categories above.
    I studied more than 5 books, several video courses etc...etc.... and still came across questions for material I never came across.
    Therefore I changed my focus from achieving a high very high pass mark to just ensuring that I pass the exam.