On to RHCE

I recently scheduled my RHCE exam for February, meaning I’ll be spending the next month studying the course material and ensuring I have the necessary skills under my belt. I had originally intended to complete the test last July, but suffered from burnout following an extended period studying for RHCSA and was forced to re-schedule.

IT certs and self-paced learning can be tricky. They require a strong time commitment and can often be overwhelming in their breadth. The educational market is flooded with 1000-page study guides for 20-objective simulation-based exams, and it’s sometimes difficult to separate the essential portions from the “fluff” or extraneous topics. Further complicating matters, test objectives may not always reflect the most common tasks for a sysadmin or engineer, leading to frustration and resentment over failed exams.

While I’m generally interested in the topics I study, I always find myself fighting distraction. Studying is rewarding, but it’s easy to get pulled astray by the instant gratification of unrelated reading, video games, and the like. Sometimes personal circumstances get in the way as well. This leads to under-preparedness, and if the student’s confidence isn’t there, the natural inclination is to re-schedule the exam rather than fall short and waste the money spent on registration.

Pacing is also important: over-studying can also be detrimental, and the student should ideally prepare with a degree of desperation and eagerness to learn in a short period. If I set my test date too far in the future, I’m more likely to skip study days and feel less motivated by the time the test rolls around.

I feel that personal accountability is the main tool to combat these challenges. Announce your intent to write an exam on a certain date to your friends, family, and boss. If possible, join a study group, or find others writing a similar exam and offer peer support. Many computer-based training sites will offer some sort of scheduling to go along with their course material – take advantage of this functionality, make a schedule, and hold yourself to it.

Past experience has shown me that a little luck goes a long way as well.

As a study aid, I’ll be adding a few short, RHCE-relevant articles in the next while. Though there’s no shortage of information on the exam topics available online, I still hope that they will be helpful to prospective students and sysadmins.