What to Expect When You're Expecting CompTIA's New Server+ Exam

Server tech using laptop in server room

CompTIA's Server+ certification was launched in 2001, which is the same year I passed the exam and earned my Server+ credential. Bjork wore a goose dress to the Oscars. Britney Spears danced with a snake. The first iPod was released. Wikipedia made its debut — a factoid I just pulled from a Wikipedia article about the year 2001.


Needless to say, the version of Server+ I earned is now considered to be a legacy credential. The Server+ exam content was refreshed in 2005, and received another update in 2009. CompTIA is now in the process of creating a third update of the Server+ certification exam, which will see it incremented to version SK0-004. The new Server+ exam is expected to debut in the last quarter of 2015 or in early 2016.


CompTIA will likely offer both the current and the new Server+ exams for a few months after the new exam's release. This gives candidates who were preparing for the older version (in this case, exam SK0-003) a window in which to take the Server+ exam related to their course material. Eventually, the older Server+ exam will be retired.


When CompTIA updates one of its certification exams, they tend to follow a three-step process. First, they consult with a number of subject matter experts (SMEs) to gather recommendations for program content changes. Then they put together a beta version of the new exam, and offer it to the public for a limited time. The beta exam is like an audition for exam content; the total question pool is larger than a normal exam, and beta exam takers are encouraged to offer feedback on the questions.


Finally, CompTIA uses the beta exam feedback and results to decide which exam questions will stay, which questions will go, and whether any new questions should be created. Then CompTIA creates and releases the new version of the exam, along with what the passing score should be.


By the way, if you ever have a chance to take a CompTIA beta exam, it's worth your while to do so. CompTIA beta exams are usually offered at a highly-discounted price — the Server+ beta exam was only $50 (U.S.). Taking a CompTIA beta exam gives you the opportunity to directly contribute to the creation of a new certification exam. And if you pass the beta exam (the passing score is set by CompTIA when the final version of the exam is released), then you receive the certification.


The exam objectives for the new Server+ exam are available from CompTIA upon request. Here is a list of the top-level knowledge domains, with an approximate percentage of how much exam content is devoted to each:


? Server Architecture (12 percent)
? Server Administration (24 percent)
? Storage (12 percent)
? Security (13 percent)
? Networking (10 percent)
? Disaster Recovery (9 percent)
? Troubleshooting (20 percent)


If you are thinking of taking the new Server+ exam when it debuts later this year, you should definitely download the full exam objectives PDF document (remember to select the correct version, for exam SK0-004). This 22-page guide contains a very detailed blueprint of the topics candidates will encounter on the exam.


Here are some quick study tips for those of you interested in challenging the new Server+ exam when it's released.


Know Your RAID


Data tech working on RAID array

Whether you prefer "redundant array of inexpensive disks" or "redundant array of independent disks," you'll definitely want to know the most commonly used RAID storage options, including the benefits and drawbacks of each. Here's a quick rundown/reminder:


? RAID 0 — Striped disks, no parity. Good performance, but not fault tolerant.
? RAID 1 — Disk mirroring. Good read performance. Most cost efficient RAID solution that offers fault tolerance.
? RAID 5 — Striped with parity. Fast read/writes, fault tolerant, needs at least three disks. Can only survive one disk failure.
? RAID 6 — Like RAID 5 but with an extra parity set. Can handle two simultaneous disk failures.
? RAID 10 — Datasets are striped and mirrored. Most expensive option, offers excellent fault tolerance and performance.


Be an Expert Troubleshooter


One-fifth of the exam covers troubleshooting server hardware and software issues. You'll want to know core troubleshooting methods and procedures, particularly the order steps should be performed in. You should be familiar with standard network troubleshooting tools (ping, ipconfig, etc.) and the common switches used with them.


Administrate This!


Server administration has the largest chunk of content dedicated to it—nearly a quarter of the Server+ exam. The CompTIA Server+ Exam Objectives PDF is the best guide for this knowledge domain. Candidates should make a note of all of the topics and subtopics in the Server Administration section, and devote appropriate study time to these subjects.


It's good to see CompTIA taking the relevance of its certifications seriously, and refreshing its exams every few years with new content. GoCertify will be the first to let you know when the new Server+ exam goes live.


Would you like more insight into the history of hacking? Check out Calvin's other articles about historical hackery:
About the Author
Aaron Axline is a freelance technology writer based in Canada.

Aaron Axline is a technology journalist and copywriter based in Edmonton, Canada. He can be found on LinkedIn, and anywhere fine coffee is served.