Inside Certification Novell Practicum

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Are you tired of believing that a person who carries a technical certification can actually do the work they’re certified to perform? How many “paper certification” holders are out there? How can employers verify that a new job candidate knows how to work with specific technologies? How can you tell who falls into which arena—“real” versus “paper”?


Technology customers are saying, “I know he’s smart, but how do I know he has the skills?” and “You want how much per hour for support? How do I know the person doing the work really has the know-how?”


Novell has listened to the industry, and created the Novell Practicum to address these very issues. Through the Practicum, Novell tests the performance of its certification candidates. Memorizing the materials and answering multiple-choice questions is not enough.


Novell Practicum
The Novell Practicum immerses certification candidates in a real-world environment and has them perform tasks. These tasks range from simple, such as adding new users, to more complex, such as configuring software for use on the platform. If you study the information in the books without taking the time to actually implement and support the Linux environment, you likely will have an extremely difficult time passing the Practicum.


Passing ratios for the Practicum are lower than traditional exams. This is exactly what Novell expected when it decided to ask candidates to perform tasks that demonstrate their abilities in a real-world environment. Even if the candidate knows in advance what some of the scenarios will be, they still have to complete the tasks once they’re in the testing environment, making it much more difficult to cheat on the exam or pass based on pure book knowledge.


Different scenarios, different tasks, from simple to complex—just as in the real world, candidates don’t know which environment they will be in, and how they complete one task will affect their performance on the tasks they haven’t seen yet.


Public Opinion
Certification candidates who have taken the Practicum exams have had positive things to say. One candidate said, “I truly feel that this should be the future of testing. I think that the exam tested my true abilities.” Another exclaimed, “Test me on what I do know! I studied hard on everything but Apache and SSH. D’oh! See you in a few months!”


Recently, the Novell Certified Linux Professional (CLP) was named in the top 10 Hot Certifications by CertCities. Linux columnist Emmett Dulaney put the Novell Certified Linux Engineer (CLE) at the top of his personal top 10 list.


Evaluating Performance-Based Tests
The rave reviews are great, but in the world of performance-based testing, how are the exams scored? Are they approved from a testing perspective? For the Novell Practicum, exam environments are evaluated on the fly after each exam is taken. Results are available to the student within five minutes.


We all know that there are usually several ways to complete any given task. To compensate for different approaches, the scoring process on the Practicum looks for correct completion of the tasks within the scenario, regardless of which path the candidate chooses to take to complete the task. If there is a disagreement about the scoring or if questions around evaluations arise, the virtual machine environment the student worked on can be easily reconstituted and further checked to see what was done or modified.


To further enhance the value of the Practicum, Novell is working with an independent third party to have the exam validated from a psychometric viewpoint. Alpine Testing Solutions is providing psychometric consultation, guidance and recommendations to Novell to assist with the ongoing design, development and reporting of the Novell Practicum exams.


Growth in Novell Linux Certification
As more customers, partners and IT professionals understand the unique benefits of holding a certification based on performance-based testing, Novell has seen impressive growth in the number of candidates who are taking Linux certification exams. Both the Novell CLP and the Novell CLE 9 have been experiencing steady growth.


The Novell Certified Linux Professional (CLP) certification requires candidates to demonstrate such skills as installing Linux servers into a network environment, managing users and groups, troubleshooting the SUSE LINUX file system, managing and compiling the Linux kernel, and troubleshooting network processes and services, among many others. The Novell CLP Practicum #050-689 is the only requirement for certification.


While training is not required, Novell does authorize both instructor-led and self-paced training materials that are designed to get candidates used to basic Linux concepts and help them learn the tasks required to manage a Linux network environment.


Some of the tasks that might be required in the live testing environment include:



  • Installing SLES 9.
  • Navigating the KDE and GNOME desktop environments.
  • Locating and using Help resources in the Linux system.
  • Performing various file management tasks in SLES 9.
  • Working from the Linux shell and command line to perform various functions.
  • Locating, viewing and using SUSE LINUX system information.
  • Managing runlevels, the kernel, the GRUB boot loader, system and hardware settings, the network configuration, user and group accounts, network resources and software packages.
  • Managing and configuring network printers and network file systems. Configuring and using a DNS server.
  • Deploying and using OpenLDAP on an SLES 9 server.
  • Managing backup and recovery.
  • Creating basic shell scripts.
  • Managing remote access.
  • Securing an SLES 9 server.


For a complete list of objectives and tasks you might encounter on the Novell CLP Practicum, visit


The Novell Certified Linux Engineer 9 (CLE 9) certification tests candidates on advanced SUSE Linux Enterprise Server administration skills. As more employers seek highly skilled Linux engineers, the Novell CLE 9 certification will help you get a leg up over the competition. Before attempting the Novell CLE 9 Practicum (exam #050-693), candidates must first complete the Novell CLP certification.


Both certifications require a single Practicum exam. These exams take about two and a half hours and are delivered around the world. Finding a Practicum testing center has become less of a challenge as Novell grows its testing channel. There are now nearly 200 participating testing partners. The cost to take the exam is $195 (U.S.).


Pioneering Performance-Based Testing
Novell has been one of the vendors leading the way into performance-based testing for IT certification exams. Its first Practicum exam was released in early 2000.


Using more than 20 different technologies, Novell has designed and developed the ability to test skills in a live, real-world environment. In addition, Novell has continued to improve on its original concept and has designed a new platform from the lessons learned.


As a testing candidate, the important thing to remember about the performance-based requirements of the Practicum is that this is a real environment. If you bring the server down, the server is really down.

As you look to expand your career opportunities and earn that next promotion, or if you want to hire someone with proven skills, look to technical certifications gained through performance-based testing. Smart just isn’t good enough for today’s complex world. IT professionals who have passed the Novell Practicum have demonstrated their knowledge

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