Thursday, March 22, 2012

CompTIA Testing Changes

There are a few changes coming up with CompTIA testing you may be interested in. They are going to Pearson Vue exclusively as a testing center and the older version of Network+ will be retiring in August, 2012. Many resources including quality practice test questions for the new CompTIA Network+ exam are currently available.

CompTIA to Use Pearson VUE Exclusively

CompTIA has decided to use a single vendor for testing and has opted to go with Pearson Vue. They have been using both Pearson Vue and Prometric but effective, July 9, 2012, you will no longer be able to take a test at a Prometric testing center.

If you have a Prometric voucher to take a test, you must use it prior to July 8, 2012. After that date, it will be worthless.

Compare to Microsoft

Microsoft took a similar step a few years back, but in a different direction. You could previously take Microsoft exams at either a Pearson Vue or a Prometric testing center. They switched over to a single vendor at end of 2007 but chose to use only Prometric.

Compare to SSCP/CISSP Testing

SSCP and CISSP exams have been available as paper-and-pencil exams but are switching over to computer based testing. Effective June 1, 2012, you'll be able to register to take these exams (and other ISC2 exams) at Pearson Vue testing centers. ISC2 has been using Pearson Vue for several other exams including CSSLP and CAP.

Network+ Exams N10-004 and N10-005

The N10-005 exam was released by CompTIA in December 2011 and many people are taking it now. The N10-004 exam which was released in 2009 retires August 31, 2012. After that date, you can only take the N10-005 exam. This update is in line with CompTIAs practice of updating their exams every three years.

A common question people ask is "What are the differences between N10-004 and N10-005?" This blog gives some information on these differences.
Realistic practice test questions for the Network+ N10-005 exam
CompTIA Network+ N10-005 Practice Test Questions (Get Certified Get Ahead)
Another common question people ask is "Which exam should I take?" The most important consideration is that you should take the exam that you've been studying for. In other words, if you've been using N10-004 study materials, take the N10-004 exam. If you're just starting to study and don't have any materials yet, your best bet is to study the newer exam. It covers topics that are more relevant today.

Also, if life events prevent you from taking the exam before August 31, 2012, you won't have to start over if you're studying N10-005 materials. In contrast, if you were studying for N10-004 and missed the August deadline, you'll need to pick up new study materials.

New A+ Exams on the Horizon

The current version of A+ exams are the 220-701 (Essentials) and 220-702 (Practical Application) exams. These were released in 2009 and an update is due in 2012, three years later. CompTIA has published the objectives for the 220-801 and 220-802 exams but they haven't provided any information on when these exams will be live. However, it is possible to make educated guesses.
  • CompTIA does three workshops for most of their exams.
  • The third workshop for the N10-005 Network+ exam was July 18-22, 2011 and that exam went live a little over four months later on December 1, 2011.
  • The third workshop for the A+ exams was April 23-27, 2012. It's very possible these new exams will go live a little over four months later on September 1, 2012.
Similarly, we can predict when the 220-701 and 220-702 exams will be retired.
  • The N10-004 exam retires Aug 31, 2012, nine months after N10-004 was released
  • The 220-701 and 220-702 exams will likely retire six to nine months after the 220-801 and 220-802 exams are released, perhaps at the end of March or June, 2013.

Comparing Security+ Exams

As a comparison, the SY0-201 Security+ exam was released in 2008. New objectives were released in 2011 as SY0-301 and there was an overlap where you could take both exams. The SY0-201 exam retired December 31, 2011 and currently only the SY0-301 exam is available. An update isn't due until 2014.

Pass the Security+ exam the first time you take it


CompTIA is switching to Pearson Vue testing centers exclusively. If you bought vouchers ahead of time make sure you either purchase Pearson Vue vouchers or use Prometric vouchers before July 9, 2012. The Network+ exam has two active exams N10-004 and N10-005 and the N10-004 exam retires August 31, 2012. The A+ exams are being updated with new 220-801 and 220-802 exams coming out but won't be live before September, 2012.