The "Bulldog Method" of Certification Preparation

Cartoon bulldog

As the old saying goes: "People do the most amazing things." When one of my colleagues forwarded me a link to the forums recently (Thanks, Kim!) I wondered what I'd be digging into.


After reading through a thread titled How I Passed N+ With No Recent Networking Experience, however, I found myself impressed and inspired. The intrepid poster, one ladyfire3374, describes what she went through just recently to pass the current Network+ exam, N10-006, after a long hiatus from IT spent driving trucks.


I'd urge anybody who's interested in prepping for the exam to read her post completely. She describes a regimen and a set of resources that would seem to get anybody over that particular hump, given a similar application of effort and elbow grease.


Her method of preparation might be described as something like this:


1) Find a good prep book, read it through, and work through the practice questions in great detail. Her initial choice was Mike Meyers' current Network+ All-in-One (current Amazon price: $32.56).


2) Tackle all 950 questions in Mike Meyers' Network+ Total Tester ($75 from his website).


3) Get more exposure to and practice with scenario questions from's Network+ Hands-on Lab Simulator ($39.99 from the PITC website, an outfit I know well and have worked with for the last 20 years).


4) Work through all 400 practice questions in Darrill Gibson's Network+ N10-006 Practice Test Questions from the Get Certified and Get Ahead series ($29.99 from


5) Total non-exam expense: $177.54 not including shipping and handling charges or tax. Let's guess $200 in round numbers. That's a great reality check on my own rule-of-thumb budget for cert prep, which usually runs around $250.


Woman studying with nose in books

With all of this work and expense now described, I hope my characterization of her drive and tenacity as the "bulldog method" now makes sense. If anything, it is probably overkill to prepare this much.


On the other hand, her explanation is apt and to the point: "I am very thorough in test prep because the exam is so expensive, so my doc was rather long." Her "doc" is the 50-page long exam review document she put together for herself to create quick review material to go over both the night before and the morning of her scheduled test time. All before sitting down at the testing center to actually confront the Network+ exam.


What I like about her method is that it mixes reading and learning the material from books, with ample interaction with hands-on labs and practice test questions.


Although she's a self-confessed text-based learner (she says "I am a reader, not a visual learner. Videos put me to sleep" early in her recitation of the bulldog method), her approach is what offers other aspiring certification candidates a good model to follow in their own cert prep maneuvers.


You could do a lot worse than to copy her blueprint and her persistent ping-ponging among learning, going from to hands-on labs to practice test questions. It's not just a great way to prep for an exam, it's a great way to gain some mastery over the material it covers, too. Bravo!


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About the Author

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran who's worked as a software developer, technical marketer, consultant, author, and researcher. Author of many books and articles, Ed also writes on certification topics for Tech Target, ComputerWorld and Win10.Guru. Check out his website at, where he also blogs daily on Windows 10 and 11 topics.