When I read reviews of Certification guides the publisher usually states that the text covers all of the objectives outlined by the certifying body. All guides that receive CompTIA's stamp of approval - as does this one - meet that basic requirement. This shifts evaluative criteria away from whether to text covers CompTIA's objectives, to how well those topics are developed and explained. On balance, Pearson's Network+ Cert Guide provides comprehensive treatment of the objectives and serves as a viable on-the-job reference. Many, if not all certification books achieve the former, far fewer succeed with the latter.
For those seeking Network+ certification and who are relatively new to networking (or trying to break into the field), this book provides a well-structured discussion of networking basics. Beyond that, the author offers test tips and clarifying notes throughout the chapters. Tips prompt you to focus more intently on certain areas. Notes are used as a way to anticipate your questions and provide quick, on-the-spot answers, highlight an important point, or direct you to a website for more information. For example, in Chapter 4, Understanding the TCP/IP Protocol suite, the author singles out important functions such as ARP, the HOST file, and DNS reverse lookup.
Each chapter is broken up - visually - with the use of style headers, bullet points, tables, lists, diagrams, numbered points, digital images, line drawings and screen shots. Such visual diversity breaks up and blocks written text so it is easier to read and digest. Diagrams, especially help you better understand how different processes work. An entire paragraph could be written to explain the role of the default gateway, for example, but a diagram expresses the information better - dynamically and with clarity.
Every certification book provides an end-of chapter review and questions to test your retention of the material. This book offers multiple and richer review options than most certification texts. For example, you can print blank "memory tables" included on a CD. Tables and lists are arranged by chapter for fast reference. However, there's a twist. Not all of the information is included so at many different points you have to fill in the rest of the information. For instance, one memory table includes several common protocols, their port assignments and the TCP/UDP service. The author provides some information in its entirety and some you have to fill in. This method breaks the tendency to simply scan over material; you must engage, recall and fill in the blank areas. Memory tables work in concert with other review options: defining key terms, hands-on exercises, troubleshooting scenarios, and review questions.
The companion CD also offers comprehensive exam prep software by examgear. You have the option to work in study mode or take a practice exam. Study mode allows you to identify areas you need to review while benefitting from detailed explanations of the material covered in the questions. The practice exam simulates an actual exam context and you receive a final score. Use this when you are close to your exam date so you know where specific weaknesses lie and you can re-train/review those specific areas.
Ann Vachon, MCSE, MCSA, A+, Net+, iNet+, Security+, Linux+, TICSA