CompTIA Exams to Include 'Performance-Based' Questions

by Janet Pinkerton | Aug 07, 2012
CompTIA will add performance-based questions to its CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ and CompTIA Security+ certification exams in the coming months.

Performance-based questions require exam candidates to perform a task or solve a problem within a simulated IT environment to demonstrate specific knowledge or skills. Currently, the three exams employ only multiple-choice questions.

The CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP) exam, introduced in September 2011, was the first CompTIA exam to employ a mix of multiple choice and performance-based questions. Now, CompTIA will expand its use of the latest exam delivery technology to its top three foundational exams in order to more accurately gauge the skill level of exam candidates.

The Performance-Based Difference

All CompTIA exam candidates take their tests on computers at authorized Pearson VUE testing centers.

Multiple-choice questions in CompTIA exams ask a candidate to select one or more correct answers to a specific question, and the candidate clicks on the correct answer or answers.

However, performance-based questions require the candidate to perform a task or solve a problem in simulated IT environments. For each performance-based question, the exam prompts the candidate to perform a specific task or solve a specific problem. A simulated environment is then launched in which the candidate completes the required steps.

Each question is designed around real-world computer scenarios that will test a candidate's skills and knowledge. Depending on the nature of the exam and the exam question, the simulated environments may include different aspects of IT infrastructure, such as command prompts, Windows or networking environments.

Once candidates use the simulated environment to perform the requested task or solve the stated problem, they click a "Done" button to submit their answer.

Exam candidates must pay careful attention to the wording and details of each question in order to form the correct answer.

To prepare for exams with performance-based questions, CompTIA encourages candidates to gain hands-on practice with exam objectives, in addition to engaging in their preferred methods for study and training.

When New Questions Will Be Added

CompTIA's schedule for adding performance-based questions to its exams is as follows:
  • CompTIA A+: The updated versions of the CompTIA A+ exams, 220-801 and 220-802, will contain performance-based questions in addition to multiple-choice questions and are scheduled to launch by October 2012. The current CompTIA A+ exams, 220-701 and 220-702, do not contain performance based questions and will remain in the market until CompTIA retires them on August 31, 2013.
  • CompTIA Network+: Performance-based questions will be added to the CompTIA Network+ exam (N10-005) this year, during the fourth quarter of 2012. The older CompTIA Network+ exam, N10-004, which does not contain performance based questions, will be retired on August 31, 2012.
  • CompTIA Security+: CompTIA will add performance based questions to the existing CompTIA Security+ exam, SY0-301, in the first quarter of 2013.

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