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18 minutes left, 5 more questions to go. I got this. I’ve been keeping a close eye on the time, trying to answer 70 of the 75 questions in 70-75 minutes so I had 15–20 minutes (90 minutes total for the exam) to answer 5 Performance-Based Questions, or about 3–4 minutes per question. It’s what I practiced. Right on schedule, feeling pretty good. I took several practice tests and the PBQs were the easiest of the lot for me.

A google search of “Network+ exam tips” will show a general consensus to flag all 5 of the PBQ’s straight away and save them for last, and I did just that. As I went thru the exam, I kept thinking, “maybe I should go back to those PBQ’s, this test is about what I was expecting.” But I pressed on. I looked at the time 30 minutes left, and 10 more multiple choice questions left. I thought to myself, “that would leave 20 minutes or so for 5 PBQs.” Shoulda, coulda, woulda.. at least, I think, but I’ll come back to this.

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18 minutes left and on to the first PBQ. I have to assign types of WAPs to a building with certain security based on what the management wants. Pretty simple, I did a lot of this in the practice exams. Wait, there’s a part two after that? I have to do the AP’s for the two buildings as well, with encryption? I mean, I did that in the practice exams too, but.. time… Ok fine, that took about 4 minutes. I can still get thru the next 4 questions in 14 minutes (3–4 minutes per question).

Question #2 is a wall of text with 4 parts. It’s a layout of a building and I have to assign workstations and peripherals/network devices based on certain criteria spelled out in the aforementioned wall of text. And on top of that I have to assign the most efficient CIDR notations to the segment of the network as to not reserve, for example, 128 IPs for a subnet that will only utilize 3 workstations. Just reading this, I know this will take more than 4 minutes. I’ll come back to this one, what’s the next question say?

I read question #3 and it’s only a couple steps, but at the end of the second step it says to select the device causing the issue to start part two — PART TWO? Ugh.

Question 4 shows a readout of a wire certifier and you have to answer if the crimping was good or incorrect. Then you had to order the wires based on EIA/TIA 568A or B. I’ve done this 100 times running wire on my own home network over the years. Typing this paragraph here took me longer to do than this question, so I got a couple minutes back.

Let’s go back to question #2 — at least I understood what to do right off the bat so I didn’t need to re-read much. I dragged and dropped the devices to the corresponding network segments and assigned the CIDR notation based on the IP of the device at the ingress of the segment. Not too bad, check the time. Wait 2 minutes left? My heart stopped, or.. started racing, I don’t know. WHAT DO I DO??

I have two PBQs left and I’m not getting them done. Race back to question 3. I remember it said several PCs weren’t getting IP addresses assigned to them — I immediately thought “OK there’s a problem with a DHCP server.” There’s two DHCP servers to select from! Ugh! Just pick one! On to Part Two — I couldn’t even finish reading the directions when the test shut off.

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I didn’t finish.

Who doesn’t finish a mostly multiple-choice test? I was disappointed, embarrassed. And a little angry. The sample tests did not represent the level of PBQs on the actual exam — not even close. The sample tests did, however, have extremely similar multiple choice questions. I would have to rely on my preparedness from those to pull me thru.

After the brief survey, where I experienced every emotion known to man, wondering if I passed, I got to the screen. I saw it. “PASSED”. I just stared at it.

Passed. But how? I didn’t even finish. I began to smile as reality settled in. But I wonder — “If I had come back to the PBQs sooner, and finished them, would I have still passed?” Back to the shoulda, coulda, woulda from earlier. I essentially missed two questions, but if I did these questions sooner, I would have taken more time with these and would have potentially had to guess at an even greater number of questions later, just to fill in a blank and have a chance to get something right. But the PBQs are suspected to be weighted more heavily than other questions. I’ll never know what the right choice was, but this route seemed to work out.

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I want to outline my journey and share some insights and ideas as if I was going to do it all over again. That’s what I read about at the beginning of my journey so I would like to contribute my two cents, and if I help even one person, this last part would be all worth it.

On May 11th, I started studying for the Network+ exam, and today, June 10th (1 day shy of a month) I passed. I bought the Udemy Network+ by Dion Training. Went thru each video and took notes. I also downloaded a flash cards app and every acronym I ran across I put in there so I would at least know what the acronyms were. I read a few posts that said knowing these acronyms were paramount to narrowing down the options to a tough question. This was spot on info and highly recommend knowing ALL of the acronyms you are exposed to. At the end of the course, there is a practice exam. I took the exam and got a 60 — the Sunday morning before my exam on Thursday. Fine, I wasn’t expecting to pass; I really just wanted a metric of that areas I was weak in. I also heard several recommendations for Professor Messer’s youtube videos.

I went thru those videos and took notes over my weakest areas on the practice test. I noticed right away that those videos were more in-depth that the Udemy course and probably could have just done with this youtube series. I also saw that a package of 6 more practice exams went on sale on Udemy and bought those too. Each day I took another practice test when I got up. I usually got up around 5am — about 4 hours before I logged into my full-time job. During the day I just had youtube in my ears for about 4 hours a day, hoping I absorb something. At night I listened to professor Messer’s videos and took notes over the weakest areas of that morning’s test. Each day I got a better score.

Flash cards for acronyms. Videos and notes over my weakest areas. Reviewing the practice exams. Wash, rinse, repeat until test day. Know CIDR notation. Know addresses (classful, APIPA, loopback, etc.). Know acronyms. These were the things I studied intently. Everything else was repeat exposure and note-taking over my weakest areas.

If I had to do it all over again, I’m not sure I would have changed anything. I feel like Professor Messer’s videos were more comprehensive than Dion Training, but that Udemy course exposed me to the tests which were spot on compared to the actual comptia exam, except for the PBQs. CompTia PBQs are like those but on steroids. Much more complicated and several parts to them.

Thank you for reading my wall of text, now you know how I felt after I read question 2. :)

/Kevin

Not sure what I'm going to put here yet.