Unauthorized Training Materials

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Did you know that CompTIA may ban you “from taking CompTIA exams” and/or revoke your certifications if you use unauthorized training materials?

I’m not sure why, but I’ve been getting a lot of queries from people recently that are using unauthorized training materials. This often comes in the form of “can you explain this question to me?”

When I ask them where the question came from, they name one of the well-known sources of unauthorized training materials.

After I explain the danger of using these materials, they are often surprised and indicate they were unaware of the problems using these materials.

Memorization vs Understanding

Many sources of unauthorized materials do not include explanations. Users memorize the answers without understanding why. When CompTIA modifies the questions slightly, it changes the meaning of the question and causes people to answer the question incorrectly. Worse, it’s not uncommon for these sources to have incorrect answers so people memorize the incorrect answers making it that much harder to answer the question accurately. This is often why people aren’t ready for exam day and get an opportunity to take the test again. 

Identifying Unauthorized Training Materials

CompTIA previously maintained a list of sources of unauthorized materials, but they no longer do so. Instead, they have these words on their site:

“If you are ever unsure whether the training material you are using is authorized or unauthorized, please visit certguard.com. Although this is not a comprehensive list, if your training materials appear in this list, you should discard and not use the materials.”

Get Certified Get Ahead

CertGuard Challenges

Unfortunately, there’s a disconnect between CompTIA and CertGuard, and CertGuard’s site is buggy.

As one example, CompTIA says to check the list on CertGuard, but the CertGuard site does not include a list of unauthorized sites. At least, not one that I could find.

As another example, if they haven’t evaluated a site, their search engine returns an error like this:

error ‘80040211’
/inc/inc_SendMail.asp, line 88

One way to see this is by entering comptia.net on the CertGuard search page. CompTIA’s URL is comptia.org so this search comes up empty. However, instead of indicating that comptia.net has not been evaluated, it gives an error like this:

CDO.Message.1 error ‘80040213’
The transport failed to connect to the server.
/inc/inc_SendMail.asp, line 88

I have tried to communicate with the site owners. Unfortunately, using their Contact page, I get this error:

Contact Us
error ‘80040211’
/inc/inc_SendMail.asp, line 116

This is the same error I was getting about 6 months ago.

CompTIA Security+ Study Guide

The 401 Version of the Study Guide

SY0-401 Study GuideThe CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-401 Study Guide is an update to the top-selling SY0-201 and SY0-301 study guides, which have helped thousands of readers pass the exam the first time they took it.

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Kindle edition also available.

Are you looking for SYO-501 Study Guide?

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How To Use CertGuard to Identify Unauthorized Training Materials

To use CertGuard, enter the URL of the site you want to check into the Search box. You’ll get one of three responses.

  • Don’t Use. If the site has unauthorized materials, it will be identified as a Braindump site. They recommend you don’t use their materials.
  • Safe to Use. If the site has authorized materials, it will be identified as Safe. Using their materials will not risk your certification.
  • Unknown – probably safe. If CertGuard doesn’t have information on the site, it will return an error. They appear to have automated tools that they use to identify braindump sites, so this probably indicates that the site is safe.

Security+ Non Braindump Sale

To guide readers to safe materials, I’m doing a limited time sale for CompTIA Security+ study materials. You can get the full package (test questions, flashcards, audio, and ten sets of performance-based questions) for only $39.99.

These materials are derived from the CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-401 Study Guide, which has been certified as CompTIA Approved Quality Content (CAQC) and covers all of the SY0-401 objectives.

All of the practice test questions have full explanations to help you understand why the correct answers are correct, and why the incorrect answers are incorrect. This way you can answer the questions correctly no matter how CompTIA words them.

Security+ Test Taking Strategies

Here’s a list of some of the blog posts I’ve created that include test taking strategies to help you pass the first time you take the Security+ exam.

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CompTIA Security+: Get Certified Get Ahead: SY0-401 Study Guide

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