Sunday, January 15, 2012

Network+ N10-004 and N10-005 Differences

If you're studying for the CompTIA Network+ exam, you probably know there are currently two versions of the exam. The N10-004 exam came out in 2009 and is available until August 31, 2012. The new version (N10-005) has been available since December 2011. A common question whenever a new exam comes out, is what are the differences so I've tried to address some of the differences here.

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Realistic practice test questions for the Network+ exam
CompTIA Network+ N10-005 Practice Test Questions (Get Certified Get Ahead)

Domain Differences

The following table shows a comparison of the domains in the two exams. The first thing that stands out is that N10-005 has one less domain. The Network Tools domain was rolled into the Network Management domain. What's not apparent from the table is that many of the objectives have been moved around. For example, the OSI model was in the Network Management domain previously, but it is in the Network Concepts domain now.
N10-004 Domain N10-005 Domain
1.0 Network Technologies (20%) 1.0 Network Concepts (21%)
2.0 Network Media and Topologies (20%) 2.0 Network Installation and Configuration (23%)
3.0 Network Devices (17%) 3.0 Network Media and Topologies (17%)
4.0 Network Management (20%) 4.0 Network Management (20%)
5.0 Network Tools (12%) 5.0 Network Security (19%)
6.0 Network Security (11%)

1.0 Network Concepts

The first domain of the N10-005 exam is Network Concepts. A primary focus here is with the seven layer OSI model. While the OSI model was in the N10-004 exam, there are a couple of differences. First, it adds in the TCP/IP model. Also, it includes the following objective: Classify how applications, devices, and protocols relate to the OSI model layers. You'll need to be able to look at an application, device, or protocol and identify which layer it operates on.

Many of the protocols and ports are similar. However, the new exam digs into Domain Name System (DNS) a little more. You'll need to know the different types of records and what dynamic DNS is. Troubleshooting methodologies are added but these are largely the same as they were in Domain 4 in the previous exam.

A completely new topic 1.9 Identify virtual network components. Virtualization is widely used and important to understand. Interestingly, they indirectly added a reference to cloud computing with Network as a Service (NaaS).

2.0 Network Installation and Configuration

This topic includes many of the objectives from the Network Devices domain in the previous domain. However, it does expand on some topics such as Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP). Many people commonly remember that DHCP provides IP addresses, but it does much more and the objectives identify topics such as reservations, scopes, leases, and options.

This topic also adds in troubleshooting topics for wireless networks and common router and switch problems. Most of these topics were in the Network Management domain previously.

3.0 Network Media and Topologies

This domain includes many of the same topics as the Network Media and Topologies domain in the previous exam. However, there is an important difference. In the previous exam, the objective often included the word identify or categorize. However, in the new exam, these words have sometimes been replaced with describe, or compare and contrast. These imply additional depth for the topics.

For example, instead of just being able to identify common physical network topologies such as Star or Ring, you're expected to be able to describe them. If you're asked to point to a square peg or a round hole, that requires one level of knowledge. However, it is a little more difficult to describe a square peg or a round hold.

4.0 Network Management

While the previous exam had a domain labeled as Network Management, many of the objectives are not the same. That's not to say that all of the objectives in the N10-005 Network Management domain are new. They aren't. Instead, objectives have just been moved around. As mentioned earlier, the Network Tools domain was rolled into this domain. Additionally, some of the specialized network devices topics from the Network Devices domain were put into here. Some of the other objectives have been reworded with a different emphasis, but the core objectives are the same.

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5.0 Network Security

The first thing to notice here is that security has become much more important. It was only 11 percent of the previous exam, but is 19 percent in current exam. Security is an important part of any network administrator's job and this reflects the growing importance of security.

Wireless security topics have been added and placed right at the beginning, and again in objective 5.4. This makes a lot of sense since wireless networks are so common and people often implement them with weak security.

The objective related to firewalls has different wording. Instead of just expecting you to explain common features of a firewall, the new objectives expect you to be able to install and configure a basic firewall. You'll still be expected to explain the common features, but you should have deeper knowledge of firewalls.


In summary, there are quite a few differences between the N10-004 and N10-005 exams. If you're studying for Network+, ensure you are studying the relevant materials for the exam you plan on taking. Also, if you're studying for the N10-004 exam, ensure you take it before the exam retires on August 31, 2012.

Good luck.

Best of luck in your studies,

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