Tech

My roadmap for passing the CompTIA Network+ (N10-007) in 2 weeks with no IT experience

I passed both CompTIA A+ cores earlier this summer and gave myself exactly 3 weeks to take the Net+ but I was worried as soon as I saw the notes that I may need more time. I ended up losing about a week’s worth of studying time but I managed to pass it with a 754. Here’s what I did.

I followed a very similar plan to my last study plan for the A+, you can read about it in detail here.

Here’s an overview of my preparation for the Net+:

  1. Watched all of the Messer videos, only stopping to take notes on the areas that were brand new or challenging. For example, I stopped and made sure I understood subnetting and binary math before moving on to the next part since that part was alien to me at first.

  2. For the 7-second subnetting section, I found that Messer’s video didn’t click with me so I used Practical Networking’s “Subnetting Mastery” playlist and I cannot recommend it enough. It breaks it down into easy-to-understand chunks and provides lots of practice examples and some curveballs you may see on the test. Here’s the link to that playlist.

  3. After watching all of the Professor Messer videos, I went over his course notes (which I bought from his website) and made flashcards using Anki of all the concepts that I felt I didn’t know 100% well and needed more review. I ended up with about 200 flashcards. To save time I ended up copying and pasting all of the bulleted text under each concept in his notes I wanted to review so it was a quick way to make the notes. I found this to be more helpful than just making traditional flashcards with definitions since this forced me to think more big picture when it comes to the concept and I would have to explain largely how it works or recall all the related terms or connected concepts. This helped me find patterns but it made studying with the flashcards a bit more slow-going and tedious than if they were regular memorization of definition flashcards.

  4. I also wrote down important tables, diagrams, and concepts in a notebook that I would review in conjunction with the flashcards. This included:
    1. A diagram I made of all the covered services and ports
    2. Binary math, hexadecimal conversion, and 7-second subnetting info
    3. Dynamic Routing Protocols diagram
    4. A running list of new or challenging acronyms (I did not write down the ones that were already ingrained into my brain from A+)
    5. Command-line tools
    6. A list of DNS record types
    7. Ethernet packet and frame structure
    8. Steps to convert a MAC address to an EUI-64 1Pv6 address
    9. 802.11 Wireless Standards
    10. Copper and fiber types, categories, and connectors
    11. WAN types, technologies, and standards

  5. Once I was somewhat (emphasis on somewhat) comfortable with the concepts above and had reviewed the flashcards once, I bought the Dion Udemy practice exams and took the first one as a baseline. This one had 6 practice exams instead of just 2 as his A+ practice exams did. The PBQs were included in these practice exams this time but modified to be multiple choice. It does specify on those questions how that would show up on the exam, however. I scored a 61% on my baseline, which was more or less what I expected but I felt a lot better about using one of these tests as a baseline since I had 5 more to go and I knew that it would be helpful to see what the test would be like so that I could narrow down areas of need.

  6. The final step of my preparation was to take practice tests and review my notes and flashcards. This time I made sure to review every single question of the exam after I finished, not just the ones I missed and I wrote down any questions that I was hesitant about in my notebook so I could be sure to review that question more carefully, even if I got it right. I also wrote down all the concepts and acronyms from the test that I forgot or didn’t recognize so that I could fill in info about them in my notebook and add it to the concepts I would review in the notebook.

  7. I also practiced writing down the quick subnetting table from the Practical Networking videos at the start of each test so it would become second nature by the day of the exam. I found that there were only one or two (if any) questions on each exam that required me to use it, but it did save a lot of time and allowed me to confidently find the answer for those few questions that may otherwise cause me to lose my confidence or even cause me to fail on the test. I recommend that everyone who takes this familiarizes themselves with this subnetting table and process because it could make the difference between a passing or failing score. There was one question on the real test that I don’t think I could have ever figured out if I didn’t use this table.

  8. My scores on these Jason Dion exams (in order) were: 61, 72, 71, 82, 78, 81. I was disappointed that I never broke 90% since by the end of my practice I felt largely comfortable with the material, I just found that there was always a chunk of questions that I missed because of the wording or that I rushed through or that contained concepts that were not covered in the messer videos. I’m sure that if I’d taken longer to study I would have done it, but I was on a time crunch… which leads me to my next point.

  9. My studying was disrupted due to family commitments (nothing bad!) but I lost about a good week that I would have otherwise studied from 9-5 as if it were a full-time job. I could do this for these first two weeks since I have summers off, but I know not everyone has the luxury of taking this much time every day to study. I still found a way to take practice tests in the mornings sometimes and looked at flashcards here and then for that week, but most days I couldn’t touch my studies and I found myself cramming for an hour or two on the days that I had any free time since this was the week leading up to the test. I was going to reschedule it since I knew I needed more time but the test center was booked for weeks and I didn’t want to wait that long. Please don’t let the 2-ish weeks of studying in the title discourage you if you need longer, this was 2 weeks of studying almost all day, every day, plus some scattered sessions here and there in the last week. If I was working a full-time job as I was during my first A+ core studies, I would have given myself at LEAST a month to study in the evenings and weekends, if not more.

  10. I bought a voucher on GetCertified4Less.com and it came with a practice test which I took the morning of the exam. It was a huge confidence booster since the questions were much easier and focused on recognizing and identifying the main concepts in the objectives so I got a 98% on that one and I went into the exam with a big confidence boost.

Of course, I knew the exam would not be as easy as that practice was, and I knew that it would be a lot like the Dion exams (which it was). Once the exam started I wrote down the subnetting table on the whiteboard and it did come in handy on a few questions. I skipped the PBQs and did the multiple-choice questions straight through. The first five questions were very tricky due to their wording and I found myself second-guessing questions that dealt with fairly straightforward topics. I swear they really do try to trick you though, so read all the choices and every word in the question carefully. After stumbling for the first few questions, I found that the rest of the test went very smoothly and I was fairly confident in most of my answers.

The PBQs were a mixed bag. Some were super easy and straightforward and others were confusing in the sheer amount of information they provided and the choices given. I found it helpful to work backward on some of them, for example, look at the answer choices and use those as a starting point to see which ones you can eliminate or test. I used almost all of the exam time, which was a departure from the A+ exams that I finished with about 50 mins left. It also helped to write down information in the PBQs onto my dry-erase sheet so that I could see it all at once and look for patterns.

By the end of the test, I felt more confident that I passed than I did for the A+, and I ended up getting a higher score.

Not gonna lie, I was prepared to retake the exam since I knew failing was more possible than I’d like. This was definitely harder than the A+ and I’ve heard from a lot of folks that this is the most difficult test in the trifecta so I am relieved that I passed. Should I have rescheduled the test until I was more prepared? Probably. I ended up crunching at the end and didn’t feel as confident as I’d like, but I also know myself and my limits and I knew that since I had consistently scored in the passing range of the Dion exams that I would be okay with a bit more preparation in the last week. I also know that I’m stubborn and I didn’t want to wait since that may psych me out.

Now I’m ready to dive into Sec+. I scheduled it for July 9th so I’m giving myself a solid 2 weeks to study. Why the shorter study time? Well, I passed Net+ with about that much time of solid study days and I feel a lot more comfortable with security. Plus, both the A+ and Net+ had entire sections in security that overlap with many course objectives on Sec+. I had also previously started studying for this test before I realized I needed to start with A+ due to my lack of IT knowledge.

Hopefully, you’ll get another positive update from me on July 9th!

Hope this help!

25 Comments

  • A

    Hey Alejandro, Congrats!
    Your flashcards sound amazing, if you get a chance, could you also send them my way?
    Thanks so much!

  • Herr Riebmann

    Hello and congratulations!

    Can you please provide me with the flashcards for Network+?

    Thank you in advance and kind regards.

  • Jacob Kastl

    Hello Alejandro, I know you have been getting a lot of these requests but may I have the flash cards as well. I am scheduled to take the test next week and would greatly appreciate it!

    Thank you for your roadmap. I also have zero experience in this field and this is all filling my brain so quickly.

    Jacob Kastl

  • sara

    I am studying as well- and these flashcards sound AMAZING! I would also appreciate them shared with me also if possible and thank you for such detailed and awesome information!

  • Brian

    Hi Alejandro,

    Thanks so much for this detailed information! I would greatly appreciate if you could send me the flashcards as well!

    Thanks!
    Brian

  • Andrea Alexandra

    Hi, Alejandro!

    I’m so glad I found your blog. The “no mames, guey” quote is what made me go “A huevo, de aquí soy”. Anyway, I am gathering as much material as I can to begin studying for the Net+. Do you mind sharing your Anki flashcards with me? I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you!! And thank you for putting together this amazing site.

    • Alejandro Avalos

      Claro que si! Thanks so much for visiting and I’m glad you found it! I’m sending you the flashcards now.

  • Kyle

    Hi Alejandro,

    Just wanted to post a brief note of thanks for putting these together. They were helpful to me in my journey to get my A+ and Net+, the latter of which I passed just a short time ago.

    Thanks!

    • Alejandro Avalos

      Hey, congrats! That’s huge I appreciate you taking the time to post this here. So glad to hear, glad to hear it was helpful!

  • B

    Alejandro,

    I think I found your blog through Reddit while I was searching for tips on the Network+ exam. I enjoyed reading through your experience. As another person with no IT background, your roadmap is very inspiring. I have no Certs at the moment but I am going to college for cybersecurity, I have tackled the Messer videos and am going through the TestOut Course. I have two questions for you

    1. Which exam was the hardest for you?

    2. Would you be willing to upload your Anki Network+ Flashcards?

    Thank you,

    B

    • Alejandro Avalos

      Hey B,

      I’m glad you found this helpful! I’d be happy to answer your questions.

      1. Network + was the most difficult by far, and I think it’s because of my lack of formal IT education. I knew enough from using and troubleshooting technology from my own life experience to have a decent foundation for A+ and Security + is far more concrete and less abstract than Net+. Areas like subnetting and binary conversions took me longer to wrap my head around.

      2. I sadly cannot upload them since the content in them was copied directly from the Professor Messer notes I bought, so I can’t distribute his materials online, but I highly encourage you to get the notes when you’re ready to take the exam and it’s very easy to copy and paste from the notes PDF into the Anki cards.

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