Ucertify is one of the sites I list at my Certifications Resources page. Ucertify has 274 tests in various areas that you can try out at no cost, but they recently offered me a chance to look at their complete Linux tests for "Junior Level Linux Professional-I".
Whether certifications have any value is an entirely different question. I would suggest that you NOT bother with certification unless you are planning to apply for a specific job that requires it or if you are just starting out and have no experience to brag about. Many people like myself look upon certifications as having little real value - it's "book knowledge" that doesn't necessarily translate into real skills.
However, some employment opportunities may require these as an indication that you have at least basic knowledge. So let's just leave that argument for another day. The rest of this article assumes that certification has value for you.
The good and the bad
I have looked at many of these test prep sites in the past, and there are always things I like and things I don't like. I have to tell you that my very first impression of Ucertify was negative, but I did warm to it as I continued.
Please get rid of John
As I started using their tests, I kept running into questions that began with this:
After the third time I saw that as the beginning of a question, I was annoyed. I'd seen enough of John, frankly.
I do understand the need to state assumptions, but really the only necessary things here are "root" and "Linux" and perhaps the specific Linux distro. I'd prefer just an "assumption" list preceding or following the questions, like:
- Root or sudo access
- Debian Linux, "Sarge" or newer
- Network or console login
- GUI or command line
If they set the assumptions off like that, it wouldn't be annoying, but you would know exactly what to assume when necessary.
Speaking of assumptions
While taking these tests, I often smiled to myself and said "But not always..". The thing is that not all distros implement the same commands and not all versions of commands use the same flags. Of course certification tests will demand knowledge of the specific distro being tested, but if I were hiring a general purpose Linux consultant, I'd want them to be very aware of those differences and I would not be particularly concerned that they knew esoteric trivia of one specific version. However, most people aren't hiring general purpose consultants, so minutia is important and these tests do have plenty of that.
Test mode vs. Learn Mode
When you take any of these tests, you can specify the number of questions you wish to answer (they will be selected randomly from the total available in that test), the time allowed, and what the passing score will be (1,000 being all answered correctly).
The ability to set the number of questions is particularly useful if you have small blocks of time during the day where you wish to practice and being able to set the time limit both enforces your allotted time and allows you to simulate the pressure you might feel under real exam conditions.
An additional feature is "Learn" mode. In this mode, a wrong answer brings up additional information showing the correct answer and explanatory text that may help you understand why you were wrong. That's a great feature.
In addition to the tests, there is a "Study Helper" section that provides a wide variety of instructional aids such as articles, shorter "study notes" and even flash cards. It's nice to see this variety and reviewing this material can help you identify area where you need to search out other resources for deeper learning.
The test suite I looked at (471 available questions) sells for $89.99, but other tests range from $15.99 (211 question GMAT test) to $119.99. Most fall in to $85-$120.00 range.
That's not cheap, but Ucertify offers a money back guarantee:
That's more than fair. In fact, I think it's pretty incredible and (assuming I were interested in certification) would make me much more willing to purchase these tests.
Of course, reviewing the free material there and at other places (including my own free tests) may make you feel confident of passing the exams without spending anything extra. That probably won't be true for most, though.
Tony Lawrence 2011/09/19 Rating:
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