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Hardware: The Basics of this A+ Certification Category

December 24, 2013 in CompTIA A+ by

[Posted 24 December 2013 by Kathy Yale]

The A+ Certification Exam has become the standard for those who want to show their computer skills to potential employers. The CompTIA A+ Test consists of several sections, including PC Hardware, Networking, Laptops, Printers, Operational Procedures, Operating Systems, Security, Mobile Devices and Troubleshooting. It is designed to provide a comprehensive view of a candidate’s knowledge, skills and experience so that employers can hire those who are proficient in the computer field.

Hardware Objectives

While it is important to understand how software causes a computer to operate, it is also important to know exactly how the hardware supports the operation of the computer. Without functioning hardware components, no programs will work. Therefore, the CompTIA A+ Certification test focuses a portion of its questions on PC hardware.

On the first part of the test, 38 percent of the questions focus on hardware objectives. Test takers are asked questions relating to installation, maintenance and repair of storage devices. Test takers must understand HDD, including SATA, PATA and Solid State storage; FDD; optical drives, including CD, DVD, Blu-Ray and RW; removable storage and external storage.

Regarding motherboards, questions may be included about jumper settings; CMOS batteries; advanced BIOS settings; bus speeds; chipsets; firmware updates; socket types; expansion slots; memory slots; front panel connectors; and I/O ports, including sound, video, USB, parallel, modem and PS/2. Successful testers must also understand wattage and capacity; connector types; and output voltage of power supplies.

In addition, questions include the areas of socket types; speed; number of cores; power consumption; cache; front side bus; and 32 bit v. 64 bit processors. Test takers must be conversant with the basic hardware associated with computer memory. Graphics cards, sound cards, storage controllers, I/O cards, wired and wireless network cards, capture cards and media readers are also all covered on the test along with cooling system components including heat sinks, thermal compound, CPU fans and case fans. 

Not only should test takers be familiar with how to analyze, repair and maintain all of these components; they should also be ready to select and use the following tools properly:

• Multimeter
• Power supply tester
• Specialty hardware and tools
• Cable testers
• Loop back plugs
• Anti-static pad and wrist strap
• Extension magnet

Test takers will also be asked questions about printers, including how to analyze and repair paper jams, junk printing, out of memory errors, lines and smearing, blank paper and ghosted images.

How Can I Prepare for the Hardware Section of the A+ Certification Exam?

One of the most common suggestions made to those who are preparing for the A+ Certification Exam’s hardware section is to take apart and put back together a computer, printer and other devices covered on the test. This is one of the easiest ways to familiarize yourself with the parts of the machine and to see how they work together. 

While this is invaluable practice for some people, others also prefer to review schematic diagrams or read preparatory materials. There are many books and other items that are devoted to the topic of hardware that can be found at Total Seminars. It may be especially helpful to read preparatory materials while working on a hands-on repair job on a computer or printer.

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CompTIA Exam prices are going up.

December 23, 2013 in Uncategorized by

CompTIA is raising the price of all their exams effective January 1, 2014.

The price of the CompTIA A+ Certification, Network+ Certification, Security+ Certification and all the other CompTIA exams will go up 3% starting in the new year.

Discount vouchers based on the old prices are still available on Total Seminars’ web site.

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Learning More about Mobile Phone and Tablet Categories on the A+ Certification Exam

December 17, 2013 in CompTIA A+ by

[Posted 17 December 2013 by Kathy Yale]

The A+ certification is an important credential for those who want to start or advance their IT career.  It is an internationally recognized benchmark utilized by the computer industry to ensure IT professionals achieve a basic competency in concepts and skills employees would need to be successful. Technicians are expected to demonstrate knowledge of a range of topics including installation, upgrading and troubleshooting. An understanding of network configurations and operating systems is also necessary.

The A+ certification was developed and is supported by the Computing Technology Industry Association. Major computer companies such as Microsoft, Dell, Apple and IBM embrace it because it provides standardization of qualifications across the entire industry in the United States and internationally. This means employers in an increasingly globalized economy will have a better idea of the capabilities of each job applicant they interview and will be able to find the best fit for their positions. The certification ensures that individuals will be skilled in the latest technology including tablets, smartphones, and other mobile devices.

The Growing Need for Mobile Device Certification

This attention on mobile devices is partially a result of Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) policies. Because it is increasingly common for employees to bring their own smart phones and tablets to the office, businesses are beginning to have employees use them as their primary work devices. As a matter of policy, many companies are beginning to use mobile technology as a primary means to operate their business. Industry professionals across the board are utilizing iPhones, iPads and tablet devices and, as a result, it is becoming increasingly necessary for IT professionals to become trained on the inner workings of these devices.

Apple offers a consultant network made up of private contractors to provide companies with onsite IT support for its products. These Apple contractors must be A+ certified as a basic qualification. As mobile devices continue to improve and proliferate, IT technicians will have to stay abreast of the latest developments.

Mobile Modifications to the A+ Certification Exam

The A+ Certification exam consists of two modules: the first module is Essentials, basic IT information that all technicians are expected to master. The second module gives the individual the ability to choose from three concentrations. These include IT Technician, Remote Support Technician and Depot Technician.

In 2012 CompTIA released a revised version of the exam called A+ 800 that reflects recent trends in technology as well as feedback from employers. One change is the addition of performance based questions that require test takers to perform tasks and demonstrate skills rather than simply answer multiple choice questions. Another big change in the test is the increased emphasis on iOS mobile devices including the iPad Touch and iPhone. IT technicians are also expected to show proficiency dealing with the security issues common to smart phones and tablets.

As mobile technology continues to be a fixture in the IT industry, CompTIA will continue to grow their exams to meet the needs of the industry. The A+ certification exam will evolve and adapt to the changing circumstances in the corporate world as it adopts the latest innovations in IT.

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Will Windows 7 Questions Be On The New A+ Certification Exam?

December 10, 2013 in CompTIA A+ by

[Posted 10 December 2013 by Kathy Yale]

As of January 2011, the CompTIA A+ certification exams began to incorporate content related to Windows 7. This addition reflected the changes in computer usage and the growing number of people utilizing this operating system.

What Is The CompTIA A+ Exam?

The CompTIA A+ Exam is the certification platform used by many IT professionals to prove their level of skill in handling all types of computer devices and software. The content of the CompTIA A+ certification exam is governed by a board of representatives from some of the top names in computer hardware and programming, including Richo, Sharp, Lenovo, HP and ASI Electronics.

The CompTIA A+ exam offers certification related to practical skills as well as knowledge of computer operating systems and hardware. Currently, the CompTIA A+ certification exam covers the following areas:

• PC Hardware
• Networking
• Laptops
• Printers
• Operational Procedures
• Operating Systems
• Security
• Mobile Devices
• Troubleshooting

Windows 7 was released in 2009 and represented a leap forward in personal computing technology. This operating system was incorporated into the CompTIA A+ certification 
exam at the request of many of the makers of the latest computer devices such as laptops, PCs and tablets. Windows 7 questions are included under both the Essentials and Practical Applications sections of the CompTIA A+ test.

Where Do Windows 7 Questions Appear on the CompTIA A+ Test?

Windows 7 content has been added to several sections of the CompTIA A+ Certification Exam and will represent a portion of both practical and foundational knowledge questions. The new content appears in the following areas on the 700 series tests:

CompTIA A+ Essentials, Section 220-701– 3.0 Operating Systems

This section of the test asks basic questions about several operating systems, including Windows 7. Also included are Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 8. These questions, which make up a total of 33 percent of the test, can be broken down as follows:

CompTIA A+ Essentials, Section 220-701–and 4.0 Software and Networking

As part of the questions related to overall software and networking knowledge, Windows 7 questions are integrated into the assessment items.

CompTIA A+ Practical Application, Section 220-702–2.0 Operating Systems

This section of the test focuses on more practical applications of the Windows 7 system and may ask test takers to project solutions to problems or speculate on how Windows 7 affects the operation of various tasks.

CompTIA A+ Practical Application, Section 220-702–4.0 Security

This section relates Windows 7 to systems security.

Because CompTIA A+ certification is globally recognized by both the public and private sectors and is required by many employers, those who are interested in studying for and passing the test should focus on the operational aspects as well as the security aspects of Windows 7. 

The new 800 series tests also include information on Windows 7. Because the test is transitioning from 700 to 800 series, many test takers are choosing to take the new version which will offer a longer certification option. 

The 800 series CompTIA A+ certification tests include more information on Windows 7 than the 700 series. In fact, the 800 versions of the test now compact most of the 700 material and adds more questions on the "Unique to OS" features of Windows 7, XP and Vista. The 800 series of tests no longer covers Windows 2000 or ME.

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Exploring the Differences Between 220-802 and 220-801 A+ Certification Exams

December 9, 2013 in CompTIA A+ by

[Posted 9 December 2013 by Kathy Yale]

The CompTIA A+ certification is an excellent way for any computer specialist to demonstrate his or her knowledge in the field of computers and computer technology. The CompTIA A+ certification is broken down into two separate examinations, A+ Essentials and A+ Practical Application. Each examination is 90 minutes long and consists of 90 multiple choice questions. The two exam sections cover different topics in computing, and each requires focused preparation in order to have the best chances of meeting the full certification requirements on the first attempt. 

Comptia A+ Essentials—Section 220-801

The CompTIA A+ Essentials 220-801 examination of the A+ certification is comprised mainly of questions relating to computer hardware. The newest version of the examination consolidates all hardware-related topics into this section and also covers information on computer networking and basic operation. Knowledge the test-taker should possess before attempting this section includes, but is not limited to, the ability to perform the following tasks:

• Assembly and set-up of different brands of computers, including laptops
• Connection of keyboards and other control devices
• Connection of peripheral devices, such as printers and monitors
• Use of uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) devices
• Connection with the internet via dial-up, wi-fi or ethernet
• Use of passwords and firewalls
• Use of USB cables and other connectors
• Installation of routers
• Use of basic networking technology
• Set-up of computer-related gaming devices and home theaters

Comptia A+ Practical Application—Section 220-802

Section 220-801 of the CompTIA A+ examination covers topics that are primarily related to the use of computers after installation and set-up. Systems configuration, security, repair and troubleshooting make up a large portion of this examination. Below is a selection of the material covered in the 220-802 examination:

• Configuration of the latest versions of operating systems and software
• Securing computers and networks, both physically and virtually
• Set-up and use of mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets
• Locating and repairing hardware, software and networking problems

Preparing For The Comptia A+ Examinations

The CompTIA A+ examinations do not focus on any specific brands or products, but instead include information on the array of products manufactured by many different companies. The all-encompassing nature of the material covered on these examinations may seem overwhelming, but exam preparation materials are available to make studying easier. Study materials can be purchased in a textbook or video format, and practice versions of the exams with answers are available so that an exam-taker can test his or her knowledge prior to taking the actual exams. Practice tests are also excellent resources to gauge the effectiveness of the study materials used. While not a guarantee of success, thoroughly studying the material most likely to be covered on the exams can greatly improve the chances of passing the exams on the first attempt. Extensive hands-on experience is also essential to performing well on the CompTIA A+ exams. 

Mastering the information included on both examinations that make up the CompTIA A+ certification is important to any individual who hopes to pursue a successful career as a computer technician or IT specialist. As with most examinations, adequate preparation is crucial to success. High-quality study materials are available to help prospective test-takers prepare for these challenging examinations so that they are passed on the first attempt, and time is not wasted taking and re-taking them.

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The Easiest Ways to Get Ready for an A+ Certification Exam

December 3, 2013 in CompTIA A+ by

[Posted 3 December 2013 by Kathy Yale]

When preparing for an important and challenging examination like the CompTIA A+ certification, it is best to leave nothing to chance. Many people who take the A+ examination for the first time are not certain about the format and topics covered by the examination and benefit from having access to high-quality study materials prepared by Total Seminars, a company with experience helping students prepare for the A+ certification and other important certification tests. 

The Basics of the A+ Examination

The A+ examination addresses the broad, basic knowledge that anyone seeking a career as a computer technician or support expert needs to master before working in the field. The CompTIA A+ certification examination was last updated in 2012, and the version currently administered includes sections 220-801 and 220-802. Each section of the test contains around 90 questions and must be completed in 90 minutes or less. The questions are multiple-choice and include a wide range of topics on computer hardware, current software applications, networking, maintenance, problem assessment and repair. In addition to covering standard personal computers and laptops, peripheral and remote devices, such as printers, smartphones and gaming modules, are also incorporated into the examination. The current version of the test also includes performance-based simulations that are designed to directly measure a test-takers hands-on knowledge and skill. 

Self-Study vs. Prepared Study Materials

An individual with extensive computer experience may feel that it is not necessary to formally prepare for the A+ examination, but test-takers who prepare adequately have a better chance of passing than those who walk into the test without studying. A student who prepares for the test independently must take the time to gather a variety of resources, while a prospective A+ certification examinee who purchases a pre-assembled package of study materials already has everything at his or her fingertips to prepare for the test. The A+ exam is also updated from time to time, making it important to ensure that the study materials used to prepare are in-line with the most up-to-date version of the test. 

A+ Examination Material from Total Seminars

Total Seminars provides a range of exam materials focused specifically on the current A+ certification exam. The materials include a comprehensive training and preparation study manual. The same subject matter is also offered in a video format hosted by computer expert Mike Meyers. Separate study guides targeted at different exam topics may also be purchased. Sample examination packages that include multiple copies of practice tests and answers that are similar in format to the actual exam are also available. Total Seminars also sells exam vouchers that are required to be admitted to take the examination at one of the many certified testing locations around the country. These items may be purchased as individual components or in bundles that include combinations of two or more of the above items. 

While ordering and studying the materials from Total Seminars does not guarantee successful completion of the A+ examination, the study packages designed by Total Seminars will inform an examinee about the format of the test and the information covered, thus allowing the test-taker to thoroughly prepare before attempting the test. If you are planning to take the A+ certification examination to launch your career as a computer repair and maintenance professional or IT specialist, or if you are looking to advance in an already-established career, check out the assortment of A+ certification study and preparation materials offered by Total Seminars today.

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An A+ Certification Can Help You Get Your Foot In the Door

November 19, 2013 in CompTIA A+ by

[Posted 19 November 2013 by Kathy Yale]

An A+ certification is considered the basic stepping-stone to a career in computers. The A+ certification shows that you have mastered the basic skills necessary to gain an entry-level job in the IT field and lets companies and employers know that you are prepared to handle computer-related assignments.

What Is A+ Certification?

The A+ is a certification that is granted after a candidate passes two written exams. The A+ certification is granted for three years, but can be renewed through a Continuing Education Program.

An A+ Certification is one of the most recognized certification programs in the world. It was developed by, and continues to be sponsored by, the Computing Technology Industry Association, or CompTIA. This is a global association of IT companies that attempts to standardize professional qualifications so that anyone working in the computer industry has a minimum amount of knowledge. Most major computer software and hardware manufacturers and developers are members of CompTIA, including Microsoft, Dell, IBM, Compaq and other companies.

How Do I Get The A+ Certification?

In order to receive an A+ certification, a candidate must pass two written exams. These two exams cover the basic and fundamental knowledge necessary to install and configure computer systems and individual computer stations as well as handle basic software tasks.

The first test, known as the CompTIA A+ 220-801, includes questions on the basics of computer technology. Candidates might be asked to answer multiple choice questions about how computers work, the functions of RAM or ROM, how a hard drive stores information and other facts. There may also be questions on the installation and configuration of computers including both desktop personal computers on wired systems and laptops on wireless systems, hardware issues and networking questions. 

The Comp-TIA A+ 220-801 exam includes 40 percent of the questions on PC hardware, 27 percent on networking, 11 percent on laptops, 11 percent on printers and 11 percent on operational procedures. The CompTIA A+ 220-801 consists of 90 questions, and a passing score is 675. 

The second test is the CompTIA A+ 220-802. This exam covers skills necessary to install, configure and repair a PC operating system as well as common features for mobile systems. Questions on both Android and Apple iOS systems are included in the test.

The CompTIA A+ 220-802 test breaks down into 33 percent of the questions on operating systems, 22 percent on security, nine percent on mobile devices and 36 percent on troubleshooting. There are a total of 90 questions on the test, and 700 is a passing score.

What Should I Do To Prepare for A+ Certification?

In order to get an A+ Certification, it is important that a candidate prepare well for the test. One activity that is recommended for potential an A+ test takers is to disassemble and reassemble a computer. This allows the candidate to become familiar with the computer’s hardware.

Another way to prepare for the test is to study with comprehensive study guides. These are available for both portions of the test and cover all the basic knowledge necessary to achieve a passing score.

How Does A+ Certification Help Me?

It is important to have an A+ certification if you are serious about a career in the computer field. Most major companies require the A+ certification in order to hire. With an A+ certification, you can get a job that will lead you into a lucrative and satisfying career in the IT industry.

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How to Increase Your Competitive Edge with an A+ Certification

November 16, 2013 in CompTIA A+ by

[Posted 16 November 2013 by Kathy Yale]

Computer technicians and information technology experts looking for an edge in the workplace should consider attaining A+ certification by CompTIA as a way to gain a leg up on the competition. Keep reading to find out more about the A+ certification and how it can boost the career of even the most knowledgeable, experienced computer tech.

Achieving A+ Certification

CompTIA is a non-profit trade organization that has become a mainstay of the computer and information technology industry by preparing and administering certification examinations in a variety of topics. CompTIA’s examinations are designed by industry experts in each field to test the knowledge required to perform specific computer careers. The A+ certification examination tests knowledge related to setting up, operating and maintaining computers and computer networks and also includes the basics of information technology and systems administration. The A+ certification is intended to equally address all brands and types of computers that the average computer tech might encounter on the job. 

The A+ Certification Examination

The A+ examination is comprised of two separate tests, each of which consists of 90 questions and takes up to 90 minutes to complete. The test is given under the supervision of an exam proctor at authorized testing facilities located around the United States. While the A+ certification by CompTIA tests a range of basic computer set-up, repair and troubleshooting skills, the examination itself is far from easy. The newest versions of the examination, 220-801 and 220-802, are so new that reliable statistics on passing rates are not available, but previous versions of the examination claimed to have a passing rate of between three and 20 percent. This low passing rate may be daunting to some examination-takers, but the test can be taken as many times as needed to pass it. Proper preparation with a combination of textbooks, sample examinations and online support also serve to increase the chances of passing the examination the first time. 

Improved Employment Prospects

Achieving A+ certification gives a computer technician a competitive edge over other uncertified individuals who may be vying for the same jobs. Many employers seek out employees who have demonstrated a basic knowledge of important skills such as the information covered by the A+ examination. Even self-employed computer technicians benefit from achieving CompTIA A+ certification. Clients look for individuals who are at the top of their field and will select a computer technician or repairperson with a widely-recognized certification like the A+ certification over someone without a certification.

Enhanced Self-Confidence

Many computer students invest time and money into a training program without knowing if it will provide adequate preparation for the real-world problems they will face on the job. Even after completing training, a novice computer tech may still feel unprepared to tackle the demands of a full-time job as a computer repair technician or systems administrator. Taking and passing a certification examination like the A+ certification allows an individual to demonstrate knowledge not only to potential employers and clients but also to themself. For most people, knowing that they possess the knowledge and skills needed to perform their job well provides a major boost in confidence.

The A+ certification is not a guarantee of employment but can be a great way to set oneself apart from the crowd.

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150,000 new computing jobs will need to be filled each year for the next 10 years.

November 12, 2013 in Uncategorized by

Computer science education: The ‘why’ and ‘how’
eSchool News October 30, 2013

Advocates say computer science education is fun–and essential

Calls for more integrated computer science education have increased in recent years as studies show that computer science degrees lead to high-paying jobs that help boost the economy.

Computer science, which includes programming and coding, is the highest-paid college degree and jobs in the field are growing at twice the national average, according to, but fewer than 2.4 percent of college students graduate with computer science degrees.

Some states are working to change that. In May, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill that counts Advanced Placement (AP) computer science as a math or science credit. The course previously counted as an elective, meaning that many students passed it over for other courses that would meet graduation requirements.

Forty of 50 states do not count computer science toward math or science requirements for high school graduation, and only 1 in 10 schools offer computer programming classes. That could change, though, if more states make efforts similar to those in Washington.

Recent data indicate that only 35 of the state’s 622 high schools offer AP computer science.

According to data collected by the New Jersey Institute of Technology, 150,000 new computing jobs will need to be filled each year for the next 10 years.

Software engineering jobs are expected to grow by 30 percent by 2020, computer and information systems jobs by 18 percent, database administration jobs by 31 percent, and computing programming jobs by 12 percent.

By that time, 2020, there will be 1.4 million computing jobs and 400,000 computer science students–a shortage of 1 million, and a lost economic potential of $500 million.

By 2018, there will be almost three times as many job openings that require computer science knowledge as there will be qualified applicants. Employers said they struggle finding enough applicants with technical knowledge required for computer-related positions.

Students’ lack of interest in this subject doesn’t begin when they get to college, however–it starts much earlier, and experts say that the sooner students develop an interest in and a love for computer science, the better.

Fewer than 1/4 of students are able to enroll in rigorous computer science courses. In fact, 2011 data show that fewer and fewer high schools are offering AP computer science tests: only 2,100 in 2011–a 25 percent decrease from five years ago. When students do take the AP test, those tests account for just .69 percent of all high school AP tests.

Other nations are boosting computer science education. Scotland revised its school curriculum and places a major focus on computer science. In South Korea, many middle and high schools teach introductory computer science, and the subject will be a major part of a proposed new curriculum. Israel initiated an intense review of school computing courses and now has one of the most rigorous high school computer science programs in the world. In the past seven years, India has tripled the number of bachelor-equivalent degrees conferred.

Experts say that helping students develop and sustain an interest in computer science through in- and after-school activities could help students take that interest with them to college and the workforce. Ensuring that students have the opportunity to explore computer science and move past traditional stereotypes opens the field up to many more.

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Practice Makes Perfect: How Practice Material Can Ensure Success for the A+ Certification Exam

November 12, 2013 in CompTIA A+ by

[Posted 12 November 2013 by Kathy Yale]

The A+ Certification is a valuable tool that can help IT professionals advance their careers. It provides people with more career options and often results in higher salary levels because it shows employers that the professional is serious and self-motivated. The test features several sections, and many people will not pass it the first time around. However, students can greatly increase their chance of passing the test and receiving their certification by investing in practice materials.

Simulate the Testing Environment

Some people don’t test well. They freeze up and forget material that normally comes to the easily. Anyone who’s nervous that they’re simply going to struggle under the stress can benefit from A+ Certification practice tests. Available online and in printed form, it allows students to simulate the testing environment ahead of time. They can even take it to the next level by having a friend time them on answering questions.

Randomized Questions to Ensure Preparedness

When learning the material, it’s grouped in logical clusters. Many people make the mistake of studying for the test in those clustered units. The information is easier to remember because they’re only focusing on one key area at a time, but the test may not be in this format. The test is meant to mimic what is seen in the actual working environment, and that means being able to work on one component of the material and transition smoothly into another. Certification practice tests aim to help students prepare for the exam, so they offer randomized questions at the highest level. This ensures that students have learned the material thoroughly and will be prepared for the upcoming test.

Discover how the Questions are Phrased

The phrasing of a question can make a big difference in how it’s answered. If students don’t understand the particular phrasing or use of words, they may answer incorrectly even when they know the material. Practice materials take questions directly from previous tests, so students can see how questions may be phrased in order to be better prepared for the test. This helps students avoid mistakes on the day of the big test.

Highlight Weak Areas

It’s normal for students to drift mentally when studying, so they may miss an important section without realizing it. With practice tests, students can review the information and highlight any areas of weakness. Once they know where they struggle and what they may have missed, they can go back and review those sections before paying money to take the actual exam.

Save Money

The exams aren’t free, and students will become discouraged if they continue paying to sit for an exam that they fail. With practice tests, they can prepare for the questions that will be on the exam and have a greater chance of passing on the first attempt.

The IT field is becoming highly competitive, and employers are looking for professionals who are serious about their work and ready to move forward in the field. Even when someone already knows the material, taking the certification is an excellent way to show managers and hiring agents that they’re willing to make an investment in themselves and their own careers. When individuals take the time to practice and review information, they’re more likely to pass the test the first time around and begin benefiting from the certification.

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