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Flight Engineer Rudolf Flight Engineer
Flight Engineer
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Some tips from Randy Russell, our Director of Certification, on how to pass Red Hat Exams

Hello,

Just incase you might have missed the article on the redhat serviceblog, I will link it for you here. This might be an interesting read for all of you, that are aiming to become Red Hat Certified Professionals.

Tips for passing Red Hat Certification exams

 

kind regards,

Rudolf Kastl

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Flight Engineer Nikhil_V Flight Engineer
Flight Engineer
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Re: Some tips from Randy Russell, our Director of Certification, on how to pass Red Hat Exams

Indeed it was helpful.

It takes a lot of time to pass the self check question 1 for me, though I can quickly give yes to question 2.

--
Regards,
Nikhil
Always have a backup plan!
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Flight Engineer Tracy_Baker Flight Engineer
Flight Engineer
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Re: Some tips from Randy Russell, our Director of Certification, on how to pass Red Hat Exams

Thanks @Rudolf -- You say many of the same things I tell my students. 

I love when I find things like this.

Program Lead at Arizona's first Red Hat Academy, est. 2005
Estrella Mountain Community College
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Flight Engineer varelov Flight Engineer
Flight Engineer
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Re: Some tips from Randy Russell, our Director of Certification, on how to pass Red Hat Exams

From the article: 

"Aim to understand, not to memorize"...  "Make sure you can do things, not just understand them".

The advice is golden. I am happy he wrote the article.

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Flight Engineer littlebigfab Flight Engineer
Flight Engineer
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Re: Some tips from Randy Russell, our Director of Certification, on how to pass Red Hat Exams

Hello,

Thanks @Rudolf for that great article !

Having taken more than 10 RH exams so far, I'd like to share my own unofficial tips Smiley Happy Here they are.

Before the exam:

  1.  Favour a classroom exam over an individual exam. You'll have a desktop computer instead of a laptop, which implies a higher screen resolution to arrange your workspace and a better sitting posture for your neck. Your local lab environment will be more responsive and with no reserved shortcut keys. Even better: you won't be interrupted for the random security check at some point during the exam, and you won't waste time for that security check. Additionnaly, you'll be handed out a worksheet.

  2.  If you take a Red Hat classroom training to prepare for the exam, always take the exam on the very next day, as generally offered by Red Hat (ex: do281 = do280 + ex280). It may seem to be a good idea to take some more weeks to better prepare for the exam and eventually take it later, but it is definitely not. After 3 or 4 dedicated days of nothing but training, you're better prepared than ever and all the training content is easier to remember. With time, it will just fade away, especially after going back to your busy life.

  3. If you have to travel to take your exam, make sure to do so the day before the exam and find an accomodation at a walking distance of the exam location. You will spare a lot of pressure and be able to totally focus on the exam itself. In case of an individual exam, schedule it early in the morning, when your mind works best.

  4. If you take an exam abroad, ask about the keyboard layout. French exams workstations have the french "azerty" layout, for example.

  5. For non-native English speakers, always read the exam objectives in english, as they may be more accurate or detailed. Example: ex407 objectives in french (10 items) vs in english (15 items).

  6. Get the exact product version your exam will be on (ex: OpenShift 3.6 vs 3.9) and make sure to prepare with the exact same version. It may vary between individual exams and classroom exams, so pay especially attention if you have failed a classroom exam and plan on re-taking it as an individual exam. This could even be a legitimate reason to take the exam as an individual exam in the first place, if you are not very confident that you can pass it the first time and if classroom exam sessions for that exam are rare.

  7. Become familiar with a linux Desktop environment if needed. Many of us only use Linux from the command line interface and are not necessarely familiar with some Linux Desktop tricks (ex: select to copy / middle-click to paste)

  8. Become familiar with the "example.com" organization. The only way doing so is practicing with Red Hat trainings and exams labs. For example, know that you don't need to use FQDNs, short names work too (ssh servera, curl serverb, etc).

  9. Do not prepare for the exam with outdated materials. The only exam I ever failed was ex270 because I prepared with my 2-year old rh270 student guidebook (ex270 had not been released yet when I first took the training).

  10. Learn to type fast on keyboard. This is not only a tip for Red Hat exams but a must for your career in general. In case you generally use a dvorak-style keyboard layout (I do), make sure to return to the standard layout a couple of weeks before the exam to retrieve your typing speed at it.


During the exam:

  1. For non-native English speakers, always read the exam instructions in english to avoid mis-interpretation due to an approximate translation

  2. Quickly review the exam instructions. If you're familiar with Red Hat exams, you can save time here, but always make sure to get the key information, like the available manuals, which items depend on other items (if any), and if persistency after reboot is required (occasionnaly, it is not). Save the passwords you have been given (if any) in a gedit text editor, to keep them within reach.

  3. For each item, read all the specifications first before actually starting doing anything. First, it may avoid to have to start all over again after discovering a key requirement close to the end of the list. Second, the following specifications may give you some hints on the expected implementation.

  4. During the first 30 minutes of the exam, do not hesitate to reset your labs VMs if you are totally stuck or if the lab environment does not behave as you expect. I had to do it once, it unlocked the situation I was stuck in, and in the end I passed the exam.

  5. Use SSH only, never the VM consoles (unless required by the situation). A friend of mine recently failed ex280 because he did it all from the VM console, with no copy/paste option.

  6. Use several terminals side by side (ex: one on workstation, one on serverN). Pay attention that some commands may alter the behaviour of a different terminal (ex: with OpenShift, you can't "oc login" with 2 different users in 2 terminals at the same time).

  7. Pay attention to names and passwords that you are instructed to use and set up. Typos here are the most terrible way to fail a RH exam. Double check them all. For passwords especially, pay attention to line-return or blank characters that may be copied/pasted. Use the clipboard only once and confirm the entry by typing.

  8. Save key or complex commands in a gedit text editor to keep them within easy reach. You may have to re-use them or part of them later. This would also turn out to be very useful in case you need to reset some VMs.

  9. Don't be perfectionist, there is no time for that. For example, if you have been tasked with writing a bash script, skip comments and fancy code, and do not handle any corner-case situation.

  10. Some commands take time (ex: installing products). Do not wait doing nothing ; organize your desktop's layout so that you can keep an eye on it (in case it fails) and start doing an other item in parallel. If your pending task is a prerequisite for all other items, then start typing the commands you would next use in a gedit text editor.

  11. Do not fill in the feedback form under each item until you have entirely completed the whole exam. Sometimes, it may be tempting as the instructions may be misleading or pretty vague, but like in case of loss of cabin pressure : take care of yourself before helping others Smiley Wink

  12. Don't take any break : the clock is ticking ! Go to the toilets right before the exam and bring water with you during the exam. If you still need one break, run and hurry up.

  13. Do not leave the exam before the end. If you have completed everything, check again and again. Verify names and passwords by actually logging in. Verify reboot persistency if required by the exam's objectives. Verify everything. It may seem boring and useless at some point, but see it as the home stretch, the final 30 minutes or so of effort in weeks or even months of work.

  14. Do not attempt anything risky 15 minutes before the end. Do not break your systems, do not modify /etc/fstab or grub configuration, etc.


What about you ? What tip would you give to someone taking a Red Hat exam ?

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Flight Engineer Alexandre Flight Engineer
Flight Engineer
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Re: Some tips from Randy Russell, our Director of Certification, on how to pass Red Hat Exams

Very importent tip:

1. Favour a classroom exam over an individual exam. You'll have a desktop computer instead of a laptop, which implies a higher screen resolution to arrange your workspace and a better sitting posture for your neck. Your local lab environment will be more responsive and with no reserved shortcut keys. Even better: you won't be interrupted for the random security check at some point during the exam, and you won't waste time for that security check. Additionnaly, you'll be handed out a worksheet.

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Moderator
Moderator
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Re: Some tips from Randy Russell, our Director of Certification, on how to pass Red Hat Exams

Wow, those are all amazing tips. Thanks for sharing all that.

About keyboard layouts, I'm french, but I have been practicing hard on using US keyboards. It took a bit to adapt, but it's always better, and saves ton of time.

 

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Flight Engineer littlebigfab Flight Engineer
Flight Engineer
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Re: Some tips from Randy Russell, our Director of Certification, on how to pass Red Hat Exams

I forgot that one : master the vi text editor !

A few other command-line text editors may be available in Red Hat exams' labs, but some administration tools such as visudo, vipw or 'oc edit' open a vi editor by default.

Besides, editing with vi is much faster, once you've learnt key tricks such as copy/cut/paste lines, search (and replace), navigate to the top/bottom of the file and to the beginning/end of a line.

That is also going to be very useful for your career in general, not just for Red Hat exams.

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