At 3:00 p.m. on the Friday before a holiday weekend, Manatee Technical College network support services instructor Joel Hall was still in his classroom – and he wasn’t alone. Craig Detoma, a student getting ready to take his CompTIA A+ 802 exam, was there late, multitasking, installing an OS on one computer while trying to recover a dead hard drive from another. Detoma was tinkering with the machines as part of a class fundraiser in which students to do hands-on work on broken computers, directly putting into practice the information they learn while prepping for their certification exams.
This high level of dedication from both Hall and his students is in no small part responsible for the impressive level of success that students from Manatee Technical College have experienced on their CompTIA A+ exams. Hall estimates that over the last five years about 80 percent of his students have passed their certification exams. This year, though, has been different. The numbers have been even higher.
As a serious educator and a serious proponent of the IT field, Hall is always on the lookout for new tools and resources to improve his classroom’s performance. On hearing news of a new tool that could possibly boost Manatee Technical College’s already impressive success rate, his curiosity was piqued.
“When CertMaster came out, I was very interested because it came from CompTIA,” Hall said. “I thought, ‘Well this has to be one of the better tools out there; coming from CompTIA, which sponsors A+. Let’s give it a whirl.’”
Hall found CertMaster to be a great decision owing to its proven method of helping users remember information and to the way its reporting tools can make the teaching process more effective. Using CertMaster, the class’s success rate has gone from great to literally perfect. Of the students who prepared for CompTIA A+ in Hall’s most recent class, 13 had taken the 801 exam and all 13 passed.
But that’s only part of the proof of Manatee Technical College’s success and the efficacy of CertMaster. The successful IT careers of former students tell the rest of the story. From a single mother who was in dire financial straits now thriving at a distribution center for a large retailer to a man now working as a database administrator for Sarasota-based tax service Hewlett Jackson, IT pros from all walks of life have gotten their starts in Hall’s courses.
“They use the A+ to get into the IT door and from there they move on,” said Hall. “We have some recent graduates who are just starting out and some who have gone on to bigger positions.”
Hall often uses former students who have now started in their IT careers as examples for current students. Sometimes former students even come back to thank him – or do even better.
“I have a student who is now a network administrator for a local medium-sized business and he has actually come back and hired other students out of the class,” said Hall.
Detoma is well positioned to serve as an example for future students. Already an adjunct engineer for the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, he has also recently started his own company, Freedom Computer Repair and Networking. He hopes that having CompTIA A+ under his belt will be a key differentiator for his business. Halfway there with his 801 passed, Detoma found CertMaster to be a helpful part of the learning process.
“It was very easy to use,” said Detoma. “I really did enjoy it. It was probably one of the best programs I’ve seen, because if you get anything wrong it drills it into you, so you tend to remember it more.”
Detoma is looking forward to using CertMaster, alongside hands-on experience, to help him pass his upcoming 802 exam and get his CompTIA A+ certification.
“We’ve got quite a few good students here,” said Hall. “They’re looking to get out there and make a name for themselves, and they use the class to do that.”
Manatee Technical College is affiliated with the CompTIA Academy Partner Program, which makes it possible for the school and over 2,000 others to provide access to CompTIA certification exams and CertMaster. Click here to learn more.
Matthew Stern is a freelance writer based in Chicago.