Certification Survey Extra: If at first you don’t succeed

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Certification Survey Extra is a series of periodic dispatches that give added insight into the findings of our most recent Certification Survey. These posts contain previously unpublished Certification Survey data.

In this edition of Certification Survey Extra, we look at the relative difficulty of successfully achieving a cloud computing certification.It takes a lot of effort to prepare for and pass an IT certification exam. Or at least it can. Many people’s first serious exposure to information technology comes about through certification, and when you’re essentially starting from scratch, there’s a lot to take in before sitting down at a testing center to prove your mettle.

If, on the other hand, you have a solid understanding of IT fundamentals, and a decent grasp of the subject matter being tested, then you may find it relatively easy to jump right in and get a passing score. Most certification providers consider answering about 75 percent of the questions correctly to be good enough for a passing score, and the bar is sometimes even lower than that.

Failure still happens, of course, and sometimes you may fail multiple times before finally breaking through. After all, as Thomas Edison famously implied, any failure that doesn’t cause you to stop trying is just another step on the path to success.

So are there a lot of successfully certified IT pros who persevered in spite of multiple failures? And what does the start-to-finish timeline typically resemble for those seeking a cloud computing credential? We zeroed in on both of those data points in our recent Cloud Certification Survey, and here’s what we learned:

Q: What is the highest number of times you have ever failed while attempting to pass a single cloud computing certification exam?

Zero failures: 66.7 percent
1 failure: 17.5 percent
2 failures: 11.1 percent
3 failures: 3.2 percent
4 failures: [No responses]
5 failures: 1.6 percent
6 or more failures: [No responses]

Q: From start to finish, what is the longest length of time it has ever taken you to earn a cloud computing certification?

0 to 3 months: 47.6 percent
4 to 7 months: 27 percent
8 to 11 months: 9.5 percent
1 year: 11.1 percent
13 to 16 months: 3.2 percent
17 to 20 months: 1.6 percent

It would seem that the, generally speaking, certified cloud computing professionals don’t often encounter an exam that’s so difficult they can’t pass it on the first try.  Maybe the exams should be harder? Or maybe we’re all just blessed to live in age that offer such a wealth of training and preparation options. There are so many places to turn for help that knowing where to look first can sometimes be a challenge.

It’s also the case that most certified cloud professionals didn’t need much time to hone their wits before attempting the exam. Nearly half of them went through the entire process in 3 or fewer months, and if we add in the folks who only needed somewhere between 4 and 7 months, then we’ve covered three-fourths of the total number of people who responded to our survey.

There’s probably a message in all of that. For potential test takers, it may be along the lines of, “You need to prepare at least a little, but don’t sweat the outcome of the exam too much.” For certification providers, well, passing the test on the first attempt is a highly desirable outcome. So if two-thirds of your customers are getting essentially exactly what they want, then maybe there’s nothing to change or improve.

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CertMag Staff

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Certification Magazine was launched in 1999 and remained in print until mid-2008. Publication was restarted on a quarterly basis in February 2014. Subscribe to CertMag here.

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