Failing a CompTIA Exam Doesn’t Mean You’re a Failure

Just because you failed a CompTIA certification exam doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Many candidates fail an exam at least once but pass a retake test later.

Failing Your CompTIA Exam Is OKIt Happens to Everyone!Passing a CompTIA certification exam on the first try is no small feat. CompTIA exams are challenging, and that’s precisely why hiring managers seek IT employees who hold CompTIA certifications. They know IT pros with these credentials are equipped to do the job they are applying to. While the difficulty of the certification exams can be intimidating, it should reassure candidates of the weight CompTIA credentials carry in the IT industry.

Let’s Get Real: CompTIA Certification Exams Are Hard

Some may believe that a CompTIA exam will be relatively easy to pass on the first try, especially if they spend a few weeks studying and have IT experience or a degree in tech. Nothing could be further from the truth. Highly intelligent, well-educated IT pros are often surprised when they initially fail an exam due to its level of difficulty.

It’s tough to say exactly how many CompTIA exam-takers have failed a certification exam in the past. What we do know is that failing IT certification exams in general is not at all unusual. TestOut Certification Magazine recently published the results of a computer technician certification survey and found that:

  • 32.9% of survey respondents never failed an IT certification exam more than once
  • 17% of respondents said they failed twice on at least one occasion
  • 9.2% of respondents failed three times on at least one occasion  

For those who have failed a CompTIA exam, these stats should be comforting as they normalize the experience of failure. It happens and it doesn’t mean you don’t have great potential as an IT pro.

Jim Hamilton, vice president of channel, Cytracom, said he was surprised by how challenging earning CompTIA A+, a foundational certification that includes two exams, was.  

“Proctored, high-stakes exams are very stressful,” Hamilton, a past vice president, member communities, CompTIA, explained. “The clock starts counting, and you have minimal time to answer each question. In addition to multiple-choice questions, simulations challenge you to apply and demonstrate competency.”

Hamilton noted that CompTIA exams will leave test-takers a little shaken up, and it’s not uncommon to be unsure of whether you passed your test. “I let out an audible sigh of relief both times when I learned that I passed the CompTIA A+ exams,” he said.

Passing a CompTIA Certification Exam Takes a Lot of Preparation

There are two aspects of the CompTIA certification process: Exam preparation and taking the actual certification exam, be it online or in person.

Like passing CompTIA exams, preparing for them isn’t easy. The biggest reason why people fail is because they don’t adequately prepare. This usually happens because candidates are unaware of how much studying goes into properly preparing for an exam.

Vernon Clifton, health informatics technology cybersecurity analyst, Advocate Aurora Hospital, admitted that failing the CompTIA A+ exams on his first try was a result of not preparing well. Clifton explained that he didn’t take exam preparation seriously enough because he had a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems/cybersecurity programming. This gave him a false sense of security.  

“It was a rude awakening when I ended up failing the CompTIA A+ exams,” Clifton said. “At the same time, failing helped me understand that I need to take exam prep seriously and that failure is a part of success.”

After stepping up his study habits using online learning tools and other resources, he passed both exams.

It also takes time to adequately prepare for a CompTIA certification exam. Drew Richards, senior service desk analyst, Impact Networking, passed the CompTIA A+ exams on the first try. However, this was only after dedicating a full 6 months to studying for them. This may sound excessive, but it’s not an uncommon timeline for CompTIA exam preparation.

Some certification candidates who study for 6 months (or more) still don’t pass their exam the first time around, and that’s OK. Some simply need more time, a fresh learning strategy or different learning resources. Many see their outcome change when they switch from using random study materials to CompTIA training tools.  

What Do You Have to Do to Sit for Your CompTIA Certification Exam?

The first part of the CompTIA certification process is getting ready for your test by mastering the exam objectives. The second part of the process is taking your exam either in person or online. To sit for your exam in person, you’ll do the following:

  1. Create a CompTIA account: Creating an account with CompTIA will enable you to buy an exam voucher and schedule your exam.
  2. Purchase an exam voucher: You can schedule and sit for your exam only after purchasing an exam voucher. Using a promo code or purchasing a CompTIA learning bundle can lower the cost of the voucher.
  3. Schedule your exam: Scheduling your exam is as easy as visiting the Pearson VUE website and locating an authorized local test center, then registering.  
  4. Review the testing policies: One thing all CompTIA exam-takers have in common is that they must read through and agree with the CompTIA Candidate Agreement after being prompted on exam day, pre-exam. Looking over the testing policies prior to the exam is also helpful.  
  5. Request accommodations: Those who need and qualify for accommodations during their exam can get them through Pearson VUE via the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Learn more here.

Those who want to take a CompTIA certification exam online must go through all the steps outlined above, starting with reviewing the testing policies. This helps candidates know if online testing is the right option for them and saves time on the day of their exam.

Additionally, online test-takers must perform a system test. They can do this by downloading the OnVUE online proctoring software prior to their exam day to confirm their computer system is compatible with the software.

The CompTIA certification process starts with preparing for an exam and ends with taking that exam. Many people fast forward to part two without dedicating enough time and energy to part one. You can prepare for your exam more effectively by studying with CompTIA CertMaster learning products.

CompTIA CertMaster Learning Resources Set You Up for Exam Success

The CompTIA CertMaster suite of learning solutions can be a game-changer for those who have failed a CompTIA exam and want to pass their retake test. These learning tools give you a clear idea of what to expect on your exam. They are perfect for IT pros, students and career changers who want to feel confident before testing.  

  • CompTIA CertMaster Learn: Whatever CompTIA exam you want to prepare for, CompTIA CertMaster Learn will help you fully grasp the exam objectives. This comprehensive eLearning solution offers candidates flexibility and is easy to engage with. It’s ideal for beginners, IT experts and everyone in between. It’s especially helpful if you need assistance managing your study time as it is organized into a customized learning plan.

This exam preparation tool includes interactive learning with performance-based questions and flashcards, videos that convey core concepts and processes and a personalized learning plan. Also included are self-assessments, learning progress analytics and reporting.  

  • CompTIA CertMaster Labs: All CompTIA certification candidates need the opportunity to learn by doing – before testing. CompTIA CertMaster Labs provides critical hands-on practice in real IT environments that can be accessed through an internet browser. This tool allows you to complete tasks and see your results right away, revealing your strengths and areas that need improvement.

User-friendly CompTIA CertMaster Labs includes pre-configured exercises that don’t need much setup and browser-based virtual environments that use real equipment. This tool also comes with lab guides that are aligned with your exam’s objectives.

  • CompTIA CertMaster Practice: Another training resource that can help you get ready for your certification exam is CompTIA CertMaster Practice. This online knowledge assessment and exam practice and preparation companion tool helps learners cement their knowledge through a complete, timed practice test experience. The test experience includes multiple-choice, scenario-based and performance-based questions. These are the questions you’ll encounter on your exam. This learning tool should be used in the last stage of your training process.

CompTIA CertMaster Practice includes knowledge assessments, personalized feedback, real-time learning analytics and adaptive learning that fortifies knowledge.  

Many CompTIA-certified IT pros have used CompTIA CertMaster products when preparing for their certification exam(s). IT student Kara Zukoski leveraged these learning tools when studying for CompTIA A+.

“I like using a combination of materials to study,” she said. “I used CertMaster, videos and study guides to get CompTIA A+ certified. Using CertMaster was great because I don’t currently have a tech job. I learned those skills without having a tech job. It makes me feel like I’m not falling behind.”

It’s always a good idea to plan for failure – just in case. When you purchase a CompTIA CertMaster product bundle you’ll get CompTIA CertMaster training tools, print or eBook study guides, an exam voucher and one exam retake. Learning about CompTIA’s certification process can help you pass your retake exam. – if necessary.

Failed Your Last CompTIA Exam? Don’t Hesitate to Try Again (and Again and Again)   

Failing one or more CompTIA certification exams is nothing to feel ashamed of. Don’t let it keep you from retaking your test or make you feel less-than. You can pass any CompTIA exam, no matter how advanced it is, if you’re willing to put in the work. When you dedicate yourself to preparing for an exam using the right learning tools and commit to being patient with yourself, it’s just a matter of time until you’ll be CompTIA certified.

Ready to get started? Learn the skills you need to pass any CompTIA certification exam with CompTIA CertMaster Learn + Labs. Sign up for a free 30-day trial today!

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