Taking advice from the Techimike blog that detailed how he passed the CWNA, I figured I should apply the same things and write a blog post about the things I found helpful for passing the CWNP (and other vendors) exams. In the beginning, these are fairly simple tidbits of advice but towards the end, I get into more detail about the tips I had for the test itself.
Determine your best method on how to study
This can be easy or tough depending on your environment and personality, but figure out how you learn and retain information the best. This can range from self-study thru a book, online videos, hands-on, an instructor lead course, or other online training materials.
Most of my studying came from getting a book reading it, documenting or noting important sections that I read or had questions about, and applying what I had read thru some kind of hands-on learning on a lab device. For me, if I cant make it applicable I have a hard time retaining the information I have studied.
Determine when your best time to study is
This could be early in the morning, late at night, during lunch breaks, as soon as you get home from work, etc.
With young children (and since I am not a morning person) the best time for me to study was in the evening after the kids had gone to bed. This had its own set of difficulties, some nights I would be so tired from work and the day’s activities that made it hard for studying. The goal with this is to try and study each day so you will form this into a habit. For me, I had to begin with little bits or sections at a time to get my brain ready for the sheer amount of information I was going to be cramming into it. That being said if find that you are getting thru the content and not retaining or remembering any of it, either stop, take a break or make a note to re-read that chapter, section, etc. I can’t tell you how many times I had to reread a chapter due to daydreaming while reading.
Remember to take breaks
Have a method that works for you for taking breaks to help retain the information. This could be as simple as a 5-minute break every 20 minutes or a longer break after finishing a chapter or module.
These breaks gave me the chance to stretch, get some fresh air, and possibly something to eat or drink. I feel these are important to help relax the brain and give it a chance to rest before trying to cram more knowledge into it. This time also provided me opportunities to reflect back on my notes, think about what I was studying, and testing it out on my lab equipment, when I finished my break, A lot of times I found that spent more time playing around on the lab equipment and learning more about the subject than I did reading.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
At the time of writing it seems that Twitter is the place where all the wireless professionals hang out, while I have found this as a great place to gather information and see what others are doing, I don’t find this to be the best place for me to ask questions, I think this might be due to being newer to the community and not having the following as some of the other professionals.
The place that I really enjoy and find very helpful for asking questions is on Slack channels. Two of the main channels that I use are wi-fipros.slack.com and cleartosend.slack.com. There are many individuals here at various stages of their wireless journey with great insights. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions here, the only bad question is the unasked one, I was always amazed at their willingness to help without ever having any interaction previously with me.
Find some additional tools to help retain the information
Now after all of this, I will go into the things that helped me study for the individual CWNP tests (and possibly others).
Know the Exam Objectives
CWNP (and most companies that issue certifications) does a very good job documenting what topics and items are covered and what the percentages of the test these sections cover.
After reading thru the book, I tend to look at the percentages of what is covered in the test and focus my efforts according to how much they are weighted. For my journey along this path, I have found that the official study guides do a very good job covering these topics. I try to make sure to know the sub-topics in the Exam Objectives in case I missed them during my studies and if need to study the chapter or section.
At the time of writing this article, on the current CWNA test, there is a section about SNR. I like to be able to define and describe it. As an example, SNR is signal to noise ratio, it’s given in a dB value, it’s calculated by taking the RSSI minus it from the noise floor which equals the SNR, a Higher SNR usually means a better connection and higher data rates.
Practice test questions
Another thing that I have found helpful, is the CWNP has the option to purchase some practice tests and take them to get a feel of what the test would be like. I seem to recall hearing that these practice questions were actual test questions that were either too easy or too hard, or they were questions that were very similar to the test questions with some variables changed to make a different result. A rule of thumb that I used for these test questions is if you can score around 80-90% you are ready for the actual test. One thing that I have found while practicing with these questions is I tend to memorize the correct answer. So with knowing this I would have myself explain why the answer is correct based on some facts or better yet why the others are not correct.
Use flashcards to help with memorization
This is where I really was able to hone in on what I did or didn’t know and focus my efforts on what I needed to study or re-read.
The flashcard program that I really enjoy using is called Anki they have a Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, and a web version. (I have actually only used the Android version). In here you can create decks (this is good for definitions multiple choice answers, etc.) of what you want to review or you can search thru their premade decks that others have created. (there is an older CWNA deck that has a lot of material in, but still good information) from here you can control how many cards you want to see at a time and begin reviewing, based on how well you feel you had done you can select how frequently you would want to see this card again. At this point, I would try to apply the same define and describe the principle that I used in the Exam Objectives section.
Build a lab and test out what you have studied
As I somewhat eluded to previously in this article, building a lab and making the knowledge applicable was another big help for understanding how things worked/functioned. This doesn’t need to be something really elaborate or even using the newest hardware, I tend to use hardware that is in the end-of-life state so it’s usually very affordable and easy to find.
I hope you have found this information helpful and informative. These are the steps and procedures that worked for myself and my quirks on doing things. This may not be your style of learning, but find out what works best for you in your studies. If you have any questions or comments, let me know. If you are studying and need help or advice feel free to reach out to me, I may not have all the answers but I have been down the path.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.