Adobe Exam Changes Part 2 – Knowing More Than Just the Program

by Jason - Dec 17, 2015


Hello everyone! Not long ago, I shared with you some changes Adobe is making to their suite of Adobe Certified Associate (ACA) exams.

So, to get a first-hand look at the new exam format, I went and took the Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 exam for Windows. Now, mind you, it’s been :::covering my mouth::: years since I last took an Adobe exam, but I wanted to see what these new “scenarios” on the Adobe exams were all about. Plus, I had seen and heard some chatter from online forums and the like about how vastly different this exam is compared to previous Adobe exams. Given that part of my role as senior instructor here is to make sure we stay on top of exam changes, I took the plunge and took the exam.

And, yes, the exam has changed. But, the changes, in my humble opinion, were not drastic. I say that because though some questions look a little different, and yes, there are scenarios to go through, the core of any certification exam is still present. And that core is: Know the objectives and know ALL of the objectives!

Here is an example: Let’s look at the first domain of the Adobe Photoshop ACA 2015 objectives:

Domain 1.0 Setting Project Requirements
1.1 Identify the purpose, audience, and audience needs for preparing images.
1.2 Demonstrate knowledge of standard copyright rules for images and image use.
1.3 Demonstrate knowledge of project management tasks and responsibilities.
1.4 Communicate with others (such as peers and clients) about design plans.

Now, this is taken straight from the exam objectives as published on Adobe’s website. Someone studying Photoshop might be so focused on Photoshop that this domain just gets glossed over. And then, when a project question comes up on the test, the first thought is “uh-oh” or something worse.

And, with the scenario-based questions becoming a part of the Adobe exams, take a wild guess what types of questions are parts of these scenarios? I’ll give you a hint: Domain one. Besides, in order to be a Photoshop expert, shouldn’t one know what to do with meeting audience needs and know about copyrights and be able to work with others (like clients) on projects?

My point is, just knowing a program forward and backward is not enough to have a valid certification. For Microsoft Project, you need to know how a project manager operates, not just how to read a cost report. For Microsoft Access, you need to know how to structure a database, not just know how to change a field to a long date format. For Windows Server, you need to be able to design a server solution, not just know how to set up DHCP.

And, for the Photoshop ACA certification, you need to know how a Photoshop project is managed start to finish, not just how to change colors on someone’s shirt using a nondestructive method (yes, you need to know that, too).

So, resist the temptation to just ignore or gloss over test objectives that are not directly related to the program you are studying. In doing so, you will have a much better chance of passing an exam and, you will be a start-to-finish expert in the area you are certified in, not just a I-can-do-this-in-the-program person.



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A+ 900 Series and End-of-Year Exam Goals

by Jason - Dec 02, 2015


Hello, it’s me, your humble senior instructor hoping you all had a nice Thanksgiving. I sure did because my football team gave me a nice birthday present with a victory over the weekend!

So, today I want to update you on a couple of items we brought up in previous blogs. First, during the first half of our filming the A+ 900 series, Brad asked me a few questions about the course, which I attempted to answer. Now, we are wrapping up filming on the second half of the A+ course, so I can fill you in on some more details.

First, we are going to be releasing this course in two parts: one for each of the 900 series exams (220-901 and 220-902 for those of you who live by exam numbers). Both will be released early in 2016, about a month apart. We are going to this model of one course for each exam for one reason: to keep your focus on one exam and not worry when studying about which topic is on which test.

Secondly, in addition to the pre-assessment and post-assessment tests, the courses will have several mini-quizzes in the middle. On many occasions, after a unit is complete you will see my smiling face asking a review question. This will give you a chance to pause (or rewind), think of an answer, and then see how you are progressing with the material. I know when I am studying for an exam, I like to have a lot of reinforcement of the material, so we are doing plenty of it in this course.

Thirdly, I do believe you will find some of the segments quite entertaining as well as educational. How can a topic like A+ be entertaining, you wonder? Well, you will just need to find out when the course is released.

That’s my update on A+. Before I go, I want to give you a gentle reminder on a very cool Microsoft promotion. It is called the Second Shot promotion and it is good until January 16. Basically, it means for any Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) exam you take between now and January 16, if you happen to not pass the exam, you get a second chance at it for free! For those of you who tend to put off taking an exam because you are not sure if you know the material well enough, what better way to find out than to basically take a free shot at one? I know I will be taking advantage of this in the next few weeks.

Well, I hear the “let’s go film” call so I will talk to you all later. Be well and take care.



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Adobe Exam Changes – Some Are Here, Some Are On The Way!

by Jason - Nov 25, 2015


Hi everyone and Happy Thanksgiving and safe travels if you are traveling (I am not, thankfully). If you are studying for any Adobe CC 2015 exam, you will want to pull up a chair and read this carefully because the Adobe CC 2015 exams have changed and changed a lot!

When I first took an Adobe exam (Photoshop CS3 and you can figure out how long ago that was if you have an abacus), about half of the questions were multiple choice and the other half were simulations. The simulations were tasks I had to complete, in the program, such as doing a Gaussian Blur or using one of the many tools available in Photoshop to transplant one piece of a picture to another, such as replacing bad grass with healthy grass.

Now, Adobe is rolling out a new exam format. In this exam format, the exams are much more scenario-based, to where instead of having one task to perform in a situation, you have several tasks to perform, all tied to the simulation.

While this makes for a much more realistic knowledge test for the exam (which, having taken a lot of exams in a lot of disciplines, I happen to like), it is a big adjustment, especially for those who have taken a few Adobe exams and/or are studying for an Adobe CC 2015 exam.

We at LearnKey are always trying to stay on top of these changes. One way in which we are going to start doing this (and continue doing for many areas, not just Adobe) is to add practice labs, tailored to the new exam format. We will be adding some Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 practice labs to our website in the coming weeks. And, as other exams are updated, we will add labs for those. This will help bridge the gap between our current courses and a new Adobe series, which we have in our plans for 2016. But we are not going to make you wait for good exam practice material just because a test format changes.

In addition to the labs, we will, as needed, update our current workbooks to match up with any objective changes and test format changes in these new exams.

These tools will give you, the student, the latest and greatest preparatory materials needed to become successful in your certification quest for Adobe or, for that matter, any certification you are pursuing.



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PMP Exam Changes Coming Early Next Year

by Jason - Nov 18, 2015


Tis the season of certification updates. Earlier this year, we released a brand new Network+ course to follow the new Network+ exam. And, we are working on new courses for CISSP and A+, as we have detailed in recent blogs.

Soon, we will be adding to our course updates the new Project Management Professional (PMP)® course. PMP® is the most widely recognized project management certification in the industry. And, to keep up with the ever-changing theories and practices of project management, the Project Management Institute will be updating their PMP® exam early next year. For those of you who are familiar with the PMP® certification, the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK)® is not changing, but the tasks on the exam are changing.

What is also not changing is our expert extraordinaire for this course. We are very pleased to bring back Michael Solomon, the LearnKey expert who delivered the previous PMP® course, to bring you all up to speed on what the new exam will look like.

The new PMP® course will, in addition to Michael’s expertise, contain hundreds of practice test questions in the form of pre-assessment and post-assessment test questions, all with the goal of preparing you for what many have described is a very “wide” exam in that the topics can be very wide-ranging.

The PMP® certification is not built for new project managers. In fact, PMI requires, depending upon your college education, the equivalent of about two to five years of project management experience. The benefits of obtaining a PMP® are many. First, with the requirements of project management experience just to sit for the exam, having a PMP® proves that you are an experienced project manager. Secondly, the average starting salary of a PMP®, according to several web-based sources, is 15-20% higher than that of a project manager without a PMP® certification.

Finally, the methods and structure used to manage projects using what you learn in the PMP® exam will prove much value and clarity in any project you manage. So, if you have project management experience and have been deciding when you should pursue your PMP® certification, let 2016 be the year!



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Mobile Browser Download for Viewing LearnKey Courseware

by Jason - Nov 04, 2015


Soon after I became the LearnKey Senior Instructor, I took a little road trip down to the corporate office in St. George, UT to meet many of the staff members I had not met, have a meeting or two about building the best course we possibly can (which we are working on now with the upcoming A+ 220-901 & 220-902 courses and other series), and of course, I did manage to squeeze in nine holes of golf.

While I was there, our IT Support Services Manager, Kevin Jacobsen, asked me “Hey..have you ever used the Puffin browser on your phone? It’s great!”  Of course, I asked how it was great and he proceeded to show me how Puffin actually does something a lot of mobile browsers do not do, and that is play Flash files!

Immediately, I thought “Oooh…that means I can watch LearnKey courses on my phone and my iPad!” I confirmed this with Kevin and indeed, the Puffin browser plays our courses, and having spent several hours watching courses my course authoring colleagues have built, I must say the quality both on a tablet (my iPad Air in this case) and my smartphone (an Android device) is quite good. I was even able to pinch in on my phone to get almost all of the course player into the screen, as seen here:

Puffin Browser

So how does this happen? Puffin supports a Flash engine over the cloud, allowing the browser to play Flash files. The speed is just about as good in the mobile browser as it is on a regular PC.

Puffin also displays most pages in their full web view, not in mobile view. So while this helps our course player, you may want to think twice about doing a crossword puzzle on a website on your smartphone using Puffin.

Anyway, I highly recommend this browser as now, you can view our courses from practically anywhere on a mobile device, using Puffin. You no longer have to think “Oh, I would study but I just don’t feel like getting off of this cozy couch to get my laptop.” You can view the courses on your device.

You can get the browser at the App Store for Apple devices or on Google Play for Android devices. For more information, go to puffinbrowser.com



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CISSP Online Training Coming Soon!

by Jason - Oct 08, 2015


Hello, there. It’s your humble senior instructor again, letting you know about yet another top-notch course we are in the midst of producing and will be releasing soon. The course I am telling you about today is our updated Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification course.

The fine folks at the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (ISC)2 have recently updated the CISSP exam and the objectives on the exam. So, we brought in our CISSP expert, Michael Solomon, to bring us up to speed on what is new in the 2015 version of the CISSP exam.

So what is new in this version of the CISSP exam? First, the number of domains have been streamlined from 10 down to 8. Here they are:

  • Security and Risk Management
  • Asset Security
  • Security Engineering
  • Communications and Network Security
  • Identity and Access Management
  • Security Assessment and Testing
  • Security Operations
  • Software Development Security

Secondly, the areas of asset security, security assessment, and testing have greater weight on this exam than in the previous CISSP exam. Plus, the exam is being updated to cover the latest in security threats and vulnerabilities.

So who is the CISSP for? According to (ISC)2, the CISSP is an ideal certification for people in positions such as Security Consultant, Security Manager, IT Director, Security Auditor, Security Architect, Security Analyst, Security Systems Engineer, Chief Information Security Officer, Director of Security, or Network Architect. In other words, it is a great certification to have if you are a security professional.

To best equip you for this exam, we not only will present Michael’s top-notch instruction, but we also will have for you pre-assessment tests and post-assessment tests for each of the eight domains.

While you are waiting for this course release, take the time to check out (if you have not already), our CompTIA Security+ course and our newly-released CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner Certification courses as they are strongly related to our upcoming CISSP course.



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Project 2013 Exam Prep (74-343) Course – Coming Soon!

by Jason - Sep 25, 2015


At LearnKey, we are always striving to produce the best and most innovative courses possible.  In line with this, we are excited to announce that we will be adding to our library some exam prep courses. These courses are short in nature (two hours or less) and are focused on one task– to help you get that last bit of confidence you need to pass a certification exam.

The first course in this series is an exam prep course for Project 2013, specifically for exam 74-343, Managing Projects with Microsoft Project 2013. This is meant to be a complementary course to LearnKey’s Project 2013 course, authored by LearnKey expert Michael Solomon. This exam prep course will focus on each exam objective, line by line, and will get you the last bits of information you need to confidently walk into the testing room and walk out with a Project 2013 certification. Whereas Michael Solomon did an excellent job covering Project 2013 wall-to-wall, this course focuses on the detailed aspects of the Project 2013 (74-343) exam.

Over the next several months, many of our courses (especially the larger courses such as A+ 220-901 and A+ 220-902) will feature a session strictly devoted to final exam prep tips. Do keep in mind that these exam prep courses, or sessions, are not a replacement for the actual course. They are meant to be one of the final pieces of your obtaining a certification, along with, of course, post-test assessments, and real, hands-on practice in the application for which you are pursuing a certification.

Be on the lookout in the next month for the Project 2013 Exam Prep course. In the meantime, stay tuned to this spot to see news on future exam prep courses. You do not have to wait for this course to get solid exam prep advice. If you have not seen the blog we posted last week on test-taking tips, go check it out.



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Test Prep and Test Taking Tips

by Jason - Sep 17, 2015


As an instructor with over 15 years of classroom training experience, and now as Senior Instructor at LearnKey, I have taken and passed at least 25 different certification tests. I have often been asked what methods I use to prepare for and take these tests. I wanted to take a few minutes to address those questions, as well as offer advice that can help you better prepare for certification tests and make those test-taking experiences positive ones.

What is the best way to prepare for a test?

  • Know whether the test is multiple choice, simulation, a combination of these, or other formats. Many certification vendors will indicate what types of questions to expect in the exam.
  • Study the objectives from top to bottom and practice the objectives from top to bottom. Get the program you are trying to get certified in (most have trial versions) and install it and practice it.
  • Most tests require about an 80% score to pass. For the practice tests you take, make sure you are scoring at 90% or higher. This will give you more breathing room when you take the actual test.
  • Take advantage of the times you do feel like studying and if you don’t feel like studying, do something else.  I can’t tell you how many times I had to go back and re-read or re-watch study materials because I tried to study when I was not in the mood to do so.

How do I not get so nervous when I take a test?

  • For most tests, you are given something to write on. At the beginning of the test, you usually will have about five minutes to read the test tutorial. That tutorial usually takes a minute to read. Use the rest of the time to jot down any last facts, formulas, or concepts you feel are ones about to fall out of your mind.
  • Do not worry about the timing of the test. For virtually every certification exam, you have one to two minutes per question. If you have studied well, timing will not be a factor.
  • Most tests will let you mark a question for review. Make sure you read the fine print and the “how-tos” at the beginning of a test to make sure you can mark a question for review. Rather than sit on a question for too long, make your best guess, mark it for review, and use your leftover time at the end of the exam to go back and review the questions you have marked.
  • You do not need to get 100% on an exam to pass. Any time I take an exam, I fully expect to get stumped on 10% of the questions. You should too. Remember, if you have been getting 90% or higher on the practice tests, guess what? You have 10% of wiggle room to use up. Just make your best guess on the question and move on.
  • Many test questions are quite wordy and often much of what is in the question has nothing to do with it. So use what I call the “look up, look down, and look up” method. Look up at the question to get an idea what it is about, look down at the answers to see what they are, and then look up at the question again so you can best match up the question and the answer.
  • As you are going through the test, “celebrate” the questions you know you have answered correctly. Now, I am not advocating jumping up and down and yelling “woo-hoo,” as that may be a slight distraction to others taking tests, but put on your best smirk of confidence.

My final tip is this: Have fun with the process of getting certified and consider the certification a reward for all of the hard work you have put into the process.



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MTA Training and Certification Courseware

by Jason - Aug 27, 2015


Today I am excited to tell you a little bit about MTA Mobility and Fundamentals (98-368), our upcoming MTA training and certification course.

As with any certification track, new MTA exams come out from time to time. This year, Microsoft released exam 98-368 (Mobility and Device Fundamentals) and 98-369 (Cloud Fundamentals).  We at LearnKey are happy to announce that over the next several months, we will be producing both of these courses. Specifically, I want to talk to you today about 98-368. This course, due to be released this fall, replaces exam 98-349 as the IT world partially transfers from laptop/desktop environments to laptop/desktop/device environments.  This exam will cover managing devices both from a user standpoint and an administrative standpoint.  By devices we are talking mostly about tablets, but the course will also look into deploying company-based apps and other infrastructure pieces onto smartphones.

This course will include video training, solid test prep materials in the form of practice test assessments and a course workbook, and labs to help you practice the concepts needed not only to pass this exam but to also confidently administer mobile devices in your workplace.



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MTA Career Path Overview

by Jason - Aug 13, 2015


The Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certification track is a great way for those looking to enter the IT career field to gain knowledge and a Microsoft certification, which will always enhance a resume when looking to obtain a position.

The MTA certifications are in the first rung on the ladder of Microsoft certifications. Once a person has some tangible experience in an IT discipline, the next certification to get is a Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate certification (MCSA). From there, the next level of expertise and prestige in Microsoft certifications is that of a Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE).

So what does this pyramid of certifications look like?  Here is an example track for one trying to become a Windows Server administrator, taken directly from Microsoft’s web site:

MTA Overview

We currently have five MTA courses in our library and plan on releasing a sixth course by the end of the year.

Exam 98-361: Software Development Fundamentals

Exam 98-364: Database Fundamentals

Exam 98-365: Windows Server Administration Fundamentals

Exam 98-366: Networking Fundamentals

Exam 98-367: Security Fundamentals

If you think a career in the IT field is for you and the MTA certifications are your path, give us a call or visit our website and we will get your started.



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