Tonight’s Article? An Exam Cliffhanger!

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I am busy studying to pass a certification exam scheduled for tomorrow morning. I am reading every document that I can find on the subject matter from the manufacturer, and I am working with a simulator to practice my skills. I have also written up about 70 flash cards with questions on one side and answers on the other.

The truth is though that I do not think much of certifications, or to be more accurate certification exams. These exams always seem to be more about recalling facts from memory than testing a person’s understanding of how and why a technology should be used.

The only exam that I ever felt did address the how part adequately was the Red Hat Certified Technician exam that I took years ago. That exam consisted of presenting you with a broken system and a list of objectives to have operational on the system. If you had the box running by the end of the exam you passed, and if not you failed. No multiple choice questions, just a verification of results (yes, I passed that exam).

Yet even that exam did not touch upon the “why” when it came to the technology. That is a vital and important question to ask as an IT professional. Why Linux instead of Windows? Why a SAN and not a NAS? Why iSCSI over FCoE? Why centralize the resources instead of distributing them?

I am the first person to say that I have no idea how you could properly test for the “why” understanding of a technology on a massive scale, but perhaps this is just because we have not tried to? I do not know, but to me the difference between someone who passed a test and an IT professional who is certified is not in the certificate itself. The difference is that an IT professional can answer those “why” questions.

Regardless, wish me luck and I will post the results of my exam here as soon as I have a chance to.

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