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A Red Hat certification can help administrators, developers, architects, operators, or engineers take the next step in their career or fill skills gaps within their enterprises. What types of questions won’t you find on Red Hat exams? Multiple-choice, check all that apply and matching terminology. It’s no secret that the exams are hard. 

They’re performance-based, practical exams that are designed to validate IT professionals who want to take on ambitious projects and stay ahead of the technology curve. During the exams, you demonstrate your skills in solving real-world scenarios. To pass, you’re to make your systems and applications work according to the exam objectives, and configurations must persist after reboot without intervention.

So how do you start getting ready for a hands-on exam? In a video on, Randy Russell, Director of Certification, offers tips to help you prepare, and hopefully pass, your Red Hat certification exam. We’re rounding out his suggestions in this blog post with a few other helpful resources for you to bookmark.

What exam is right for you?

While some IT professionals already have a specific exam in mind based on their company priorities, you might have come across your peers’ RHCSA, RHCE denotations on LinkedIn—but are they also the right certification for you? 

Did you know we currently offer more than 30 certifications, including ones focused on middleware, Linux, cloud computing and more?

You can view them by job role and technology to find the one that’s most suitable for you at this point in your career. You can also review the Ansible, OpenShift, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and other skills paths to plan your training and certification journey.

Get trained and prepare with others

While you could take any Red Hat exam without taking training from Red Hat or anyone else, taking time to complete training courses is one important tip to bring you closer to acing that exam. 

Red Hat’s Certification team works closely with the Red Hat Curriculum team to make sure the topics covered in our training courses align with the objectives required of each exam. 

Sometimes our training takes place in classes where you can prepare with others. With more and more people doing self-study, how do you bounce ideas off peers? The Red Hat Learning Community, which launched in 2018, now has more than 50,000 members that you can connect and study with. It’s a platform that offers social learning and collaboration tools among students, instructors and subject matter experts. 

Line up your training to the exam objectives

Look up exam objectives and make sure the courses and labs you’re doing line up. “Our courses are generally a superset of the exam objectives,” says Russell. Aim to be able to do labs without consulting your notes, unassisted.

To find the objectives for the Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA) exam, for example, click over to the “Exam” tab from the certification landing page, then head to the EX200 link. From here, select the “Objectives” tab, where you’ll find specific study points for the exam.
Figure 1. Here’s a snippet of some of the RHCSA exam objectives:

  • Understand and use essential tools

    • Access a shell prompt and issue commands with correct syntax

    • Use input-output redirection (>, >>, |, 2>, etc.)

    • Use grep and regular expressions to analyze text

  • Manage containers

    • Find and retrieve container images from a remote registry

    • Inspect container images

    • Perform container management using commands such as podman and skopeo

Know the resources available to you during the exam

You might not need to commit every single command to memory, but you should know how to quickly look up the information and be familiar with our product documentation. You can also check out a list of tips from a Red Hat course developer, Marek Czernek, who covers how to use documentation in the exam in more detail. 

Review, review, review

You’ll be working against time during your exam and should know when to move on. If you’re struggling on one particular task, put it aside, work on one of the other tasks and come back to it. Additionally, allow time to be able to check your work. If an exam is three hours long, you may want to leave the last half hour to check over your work and make sure the steps or dependencies work. 

If you were not able to pass the exam previously, or are getting ready to renew your certification, review your last exam results. After your attempt, you receive a score report that includes information about how you performed against the objectives, whether you pass or fail. You can use these results to see where you need work for future attempts. Note that exam questions do change between retakes. 

Ready to get certified?

There’s no one way to study, but these tips can help you map out some plans to get as prepared as possible as you head into the test. You can also browse through all of our training and certification offerings in one place.  

We have made some of our most popular exams available remotely, and you’ll need to make sure your home environment meets all the requirements to take them. You can review Russell’s previous blog post on setting up your home exam space. 

Another tip to heed from Russell is to “Rest before you test.” Whether taking a test virtually or in person, don’t exhaust yourself the night before to cram information in last-minute. Take some time to explore all of the helpful resources available at your fingertips—from the Red Hat Learning Community, Red Hat training courses, and blog posts—to map out your plan to ace that exam and advance your career.

About the author

As the Managing Editor of the Red Hat Blog, Thanh Wong works with technical subject matter experts to develop and edit content for publication. She is fascinated with learning about new technologies and processes, and she's vested in sharing how they can help solve problems for enterprise environments. Outside of Red Hat, Wong hears a lot about the command line from her system administrator husband. Together, they're raising a young daughter and live in Maryland.

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