4 week study plan for CompTIA Network+ Exam

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Studying can be a nightmare, I know. It’s a lot of work, a lot of reading, and, most of the time, for most people it feels boring or stupid. There’s one thing to read an article about something interesting to catch a new thing or two, and another to read and reread something so it gets stuck in your head. However, sometimes studying can’t be avoided. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t get boring, yet despair not! There’s still a way to get back in the saddle and clear those nasty obstacles of boredom and tiredness.

About the Exam

First off, it would be wise to talk a bit about this exam in general, which one? What, didn’t you read the title? The CompTIA Network+ is a certification exam for the associate-level network technician. Big companies like Dell or HP have a little red line in their job requirements that specifically mention this little piece of paper.  CompTIA prides itself on being a frontrunner in providing certifications and training for Network Technicians, and this shows both in their international renown, and power of their certifications. The exam itself is about 100 questions, lasting no more than 1 ½ hours. The score range from 100 to 900 with 720 being the magic pass score. It can be taken in a multitude of language such as: English, Japanese, German, Simplified and Traditional Chinese (these refer to the type of characters), Korean and Spanish. It has 5 big topics, each with its own 2-page-wroth of sub-topics. The exam topics, as well as their percentage value of the exam is as follows:Network Concepts (21%) ;Network Installation and Configuration (23%); Network Media and Topologies (17%); Network Management (20%); Network Security (19%). A detailed overview of the topics can be found here.

The four week plan

The 4 week plan is not for the whole study time needed, the “how to study for this exam from scratch” thing. If you want to study for the exam from scratch, it’s better you leave this article and find a training course. There is a multitude of training courses and programs/classes offered even by CompTIA, training for all of their courses, and they can usually be found on their main site (here). The 4 week plan is more-or-less for those final 4 weeks when the exam is almost here and you have no idea if you are truly ready or not. Because of the sheer size and quantity of the curriculum (see the exam topic overview), the study cannot be realistically done in just 4 weeks, however, if you have studied for the exam in a training course or, even better, at work, you can use it as a way to review each object and prepare for the test.

The 4 week plan effectively breaks into 2 weeks of actual study (remembering and reviewing all the data), 1 week of practice with CertMaster (or with a tutor/partner if you’re cheap), and one, last one, filled with practice, mock-exams and breaks. During these 4 weeks it will be imperative that you leave yourselves Sunday open. Even the Lord took a break on Sunday. At first you might feel like working on Sunday too, but if you disregard my warning s and do it you will find that the quality of your work is diminished, you won’t really remember much, and you will grow either too tired or you will effectively hate the subject and studying. We don’t want that.

This article also expects that you already have all your study resources already.

First two weeks

As mentioned beforehand, these first two weeks will be used to study up. The idea is to split those 5 big topics, and assign 2 consecutive days to each one. Then, without forgetting to leave Sunday as a rest day, start studying each topic for the allocated time. 2 days* 5 topics will leave you with 2 more days (beside the free Sundays) that you can use to study, and you may feel that you will lose them, but trust me, at the end, when you will have those 2 days open, you will be thankful because there is no real chance you will be able to finish every topic in two days. You may need an extra day for one or two, and here come the 2 extra days. How or in which way you split your topics and assign them is up to you. Use the knowledge you already have and measure up each portion in your head. Leave the stuff you think will be easier first and put the harder part by the end, or vice-versa. Just remember, you will have those two extra days at the end. As long as you don’t slack of, you should be able to finish most of it

Also, it is important that you create a comfortable environment while studying. Do not become stubborn and make a study environment that will not be beneficial to you. This is 2014, nobody studies in perfect silence anymore, in fact, and studying in silence may actually be detrimental for some people. Do not force yourself to become a priest if you love women. Listen to music; write with colored pencils; whatever floats your boat. Just be sure that you are actually studying and not just banging your head and feet.

Third week

If you don’t know what CertMaster is yet, find out. This week is made for him. During these days you will use it again and again and again. Check out its feedback and re-read the areas you keep failing in. Don’t worry, CompTIA says this program is an auto-evolving “teacher program”. It is basically a tester that provides immediate feedback on what you did wrong, why you did wrong and where to revise. They also say that it is a revolutionary new way to learn and prepare for your certification exam, that it can help you master the CompTIA curriculum, gain confidence and make learning fun. How much truth there is to that I cannot say for sure, yet it looks promising. The program is license-based, with a one year license costing around $190. If you’re cheap, or don’t know if you should buy it, there’s a trial available for the program. Otherwise you can enlist the help of a tutor or a friend that already took it/is a network technician already. The most important thing is to practice and find out where you are making blunders.

Forth week

During the first day of the last study week, you should auto-evaluate yourself on each topic by grading yourself a grade from 1 to 5, then practice. Keep using the CertMaster if you want, or use the practice question found on the main site. Anyway, specifically practice the areas in which you graded yourself least. If needed, review the textbooks as well. And for this week, you should use a practice-break day schedule, meaning that you do nothing but practice and review one day, and rest the second. This will help the information really sink in your brain.

Again, be sure to keep any Sundays or days before the actual exam free. There’s no use studying hard for 4 weeks if you study too hard and end up taking the exam exhausted. Otherwise good luck and have fun studying! May your exam be easy and results favorable.