There are many ways to prep for a certification exam. The best way for you depends on your goals and resources: are you limited by time or money? Are you a visual learner? Here’s an overview of the most popular study methods, and the positive and negative aspects of each. Bootcamps are intense learning environments that normally last a week or several weeks, depending on the difficulty of the exam. Virtually all bootcamp attendee’s time is spent in a classroom learning the material, taking practice tests and taking the actual tests. Bootcamps are stressful, and not for the faint of heart. You will be working 12-18 hour days, and must be completely focused and committed to make it through. You can get a certification very quickly; usually in one or two weeks as opposed to months of training with other methods. You can see where you’re struggling and give you individual help but you will have an instructor who can not only answer questions. Most bootcamps offer labs that simulate a real working environment, allowing students to learn by doing. Bootcamps can run many thousands of dollars. There’s also the cost of travel to a hotel, which is often out of town.

How to choose a tech certification study course

You’ll be cut off from family and friends for a week or two. They don’t call it a “bootcamp” for nothing. Consider skipping this type of training in case you don’t work well under pressure. Many colleges and universities now teach certification courses. These are set in a classroom, and normally include a significant amount of lab work. They generally meet several nights per week over a number of months. The teachers of university certification courses are often IT pros in the field. You can ask them questions and get specific feedback for your situation. For example, the classes are spread out over months, so the time pressure is not nearly as great as it is for a bootcamp. Most of the universities and colleges are likely to have decent, or better, equipment. This includes substantial classroom networks, large labs and all the software you’re likely to need. Your local school may or may not have certification training available. If not, you will have to travel. Ranging from about $1,000 to more than $2,000, courses are expensive. A tons of books are available or every conceivable certification. There are multiple series, like the Exam Cram series, with a reputation for delivering solid information. Large national booksellers like Borders and Barnes & Noble usually have a strong selection of certification books. Almost all certification prep books contain companion CDs with practice tests. I recommend going to an online bookseller like Amazon. Com instead in case you choose this study method. You’ll have the widest range of choices, and be able to read customer reviews -- an invaluable aid. It’s not too expensive to get multiple books covering the same test or certification. Having more than one point of view can be helpful, and could provide insights that another book might not.