CertMaster Helps Management Consultant Understand the Breadth of A+

by Michelle Peterson | Oct 01, 2014

An Irish woman trying her hand at IT found great success with CompTIA’s new training tool, CertMaster, which she used to prepare for her CompTIA A+ exam. The 43-year-old management consultant said the learning tool helped her not only memorize the material — it gave her a full understanding of what was being presented.

“CertMaster got me focused and gave me a great understanding of my course,” said Olive Brennan Herbst, who works in Dublin, Ireland, and Hannover, Germany. “It prepared me for my final exam.”

Herbst said CertMaster’s combination of research — from neurobiology, cognitive psychology and game studies — worked in her favor. “I found that I remembered the answer to questions, plus I also understood why it was the correct answer,” she said.

Behind the Brain Science

CertMaster uses priming, spacing, analytics and engagement tools to help students learn. Priming creates a framework for learning so students don’t get overwhelmed with new material. Spacing gives the brain time to rest and gives memory the long-term time to form. Spacing keeps questions to just six to eight per lesson, plus a review.

When CertMaster presents a question, often with a related image, it includes multiple choice answers. Choose one answer and mark it “I am sure” or fill in the blanks with two answers you think might be right and say, “I am partially sure.” CertMaster responds by saying “you’re right” or “one is right” and gives you links to additional learning options before taking you to the next question.

“I thought that this was a great method of learning as it was interactive,” Herbst said.

CertMaster also asks questions in a certain repetition to create a pathway for learning and remembering. “CertMaster was great because each question I marked incorrectly would be repeated until I got them correct,” Herbst said. According to the brain science behind CertMaster, when you answer a question correctly and confidently twice, that information is more likely to be banked in your long-term memory.  

CertMaster also uses learning algorithms to analyze user data. If a student is flying through the lesson, CertMaster pivots to offer more challenging questions. When the student struggles, CertMaster goes back to more familiar territory. “This was very helpful as you could manage and monitor your progress,” she said.

In addition to traditional science, CertMaster also uses engagement tools used by the video game industry to tap into motivational triggers like risk, achievement and curiosity. Those motivators create a dopamine effect, too, so more playing means a positive feedback loop. With CertMaster, you’re given results, encouragement, a harder question if you’re doing too well and an easier question if you aren’t.

Herbst said the program was comprehensive and tailored to the subject matter. “I found the CertMaster online CompTIA A+ training very helpful and informative,” Herbst said. “It was an excellent learning tool.”

CompTIA CertMaster is available for CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, CompTIA Security+ and CompTIA Strata IT Fundamentals. Learn more about how CertMaster can be a powerful certification preparation tool and sign up for a free trial of the new online study tool.

For those thinking about using CertMaster; Herbst recommends taking it slow. “Take your time, remember to take breaks and enjoy the experience, as it will really help you pass your CompTIA A+,” she said. “It helped me ensure I passed.”

Michelle Peterson is a communications specialist for CompTIA.

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