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Totally Free Certification Training

Few of us can stroll in and take a certification exam cold, cough with no prep work, prescription and walk out with a passing score. But you can get prepped without breaking the bank - if you know where to find the best free resources.

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[OK, you're right, it's not still 2001. You may still find some valuable pointers here, but yes, we've finally gotten around to upgrading. There is now a newer, more relevant article about Totally Free Certification Training. May it serve your needs well.]


One of the most daunting aspects of achieving certification is the price tag. Books commonly run $40 apiece and up, courses can easily cost $1,000 or more, and if you choose to attend a boot camp, it'll set you back several K. And let's face it - few of us can stroll in and take a certification exam cold, with no prep work, and walk out with a passing score. But thanks to the popularity of certification and the Internet, there's a substantial supply of free certification preparation materials available if you know where to look.

Before you begin your quest for free training there are two things you should know: First, the free stuff varies widely in quality. A fraction of it is excellent, a (slightly larger) portion is utter dreck, and the majority falls somewhere in between. Second, these are the types of resources that completely rely on the student to be self-motivated. If you doubt your ability to keep yourself organized, on-track, and moving forward, resources that come with more externally imposed structure will probably work better for you. Many certification candidates find a combination of freebies and for-pay options works best.

Certification Web Sites

Most certification freebies are brought to us via the Internet. There are now entire Web sites devoted to IT certification and many more that include certification sections. They range from the broad - such as, which covers over 500 certifications - to the specific, like Marcus Green's Java Programmer Certification Exam And Training Web Site.

Sites such as these are gold mines of free information. They'll feed you the details on what it takes to earn a particular designation - from the number and difficulty of the exams involved to the format and cost of the exams - and go on from there. You can also expect to encounter online tutorials, practice quizzes, insider information on certification, lists of suggested resources, and even the occasional online game to make learning more fun.

The tutorials are often very specific. For example, on the BrainBuzz site you'll find exam guides (called cramsessions) with such titles as "SAIR Linux Level I System Administration" and "Microsoft Windows 2000 Accelerated Exam." The practice exams run the gamut from demo versions of robust testing systems that use adaptive technology (such as those at to less technically sophisticated resources that simply provide a list of questions and answers on the screen. If you're so inclined you can even seek out the offbeat, such as the Rules Roundup Game at the JavaRanch, where your goal is to herd the cows into the pen by answering all the questions correctly.

When using free online tutorials and practice questions, don't assume that the information is flawless. Although the people who create these resources have the best intentions, it isn't unusual for a few errors to slip in. If you find some, be sure to email the content creator so they can be corrected.