RHCE Exam Tips

I can’t find alot of RHCE study or exam tips online, so I decided to write my own. The list does not contain exam questions, but rather my personal advice on how to do well for the exam. Hopefully, this can be useful for anyone taking the Redhat Certified Engineer (RHCE) exam. The RHCE exam is performance based. This means that cramping theory the night before the exam is not good enough. You have to perform, meaning that you must have enough practical experience prior the exam. If you are reading this webpage, I assumed that you are already a competent linux/rhel user and is planning to take the exam soon.

1. Go through redhat prep guide carefully and make sure you what what each point means.

2. Make sure you know how to troubleshoot the system using different run levels, emergency and rescue mode. Doing a few more practices before the exam gives you extra confidence.

3. Don’t assume you know. Do it to confirm. Even if using GUI, make sure you know what each field means. It is not only about clicking ‘next’ and ‘next’. If something goes wrong during installation or you forget to install some packages, you must know how to do it in command line later. Check that you are familiar with all yum and rpm commands. A good Linux Administrator must know how to work without using GUI.

4. Use ‘man’ minimally during exams because time is against you. You should be able to install any packages and configure it up and running in a short time. Remember that result is all that matters. The configuration file for some applications can be confusing and there are often other ways to achieve the same goal.

5. The reason why RHCEs are valued in the market is because they are able to configure linux servers securely. Make sure you know firewall, selinux, fcontext, booleans..etc including all commands associated with it.

6. If things go wrong, you must know where to look for the right logs. Check for file permissions, acls, file context, firewall, booleans.

7. All the changes you make must survive a reboot – all changes have to be permanent. Many people tend to forget this part. Reboot takes time. Try not to reboot if you can. Even updating partition table doesn’t require a reboot if you use the right command. Rebooting a machine too often tells people that you lack good System Administration skills.

8. Becareful of rumors or sample exam papers floating around. Remember that knowing your stuff is still the most secure way to pass the exam and practice is the key to success.

9. In section 1, try not to jump questions. Do the compulsory ones, then the non-compulsory questions, one at a time. You need to secure 80% for this part to qualify for RHCE.

10. In section 2, do each question quickly. If stuck, feel free to jump to the next question and revisit the problematic ones later. Test all answers. Re-read the questions and make sure you have answered them correctly. Your solution might work but it may not be what the question is asking for. Some people kept failing section 2 even if they feel confident that they have done well. Take this point seriously. There are 2 parts here, the RHCT and RHCE part. You need > 70 % for each part to get RHCE.

11. Try not to over configure or provide solutions that are not asked for. If a question is asking for A, give A only. Showing  that you are smart by giving B and C as well might introduce complications or extra work for other questions. For example, if you are not asked to use ldap or kerberos, don’t act smart.

12. Devise strategies to know where to look for configuration details rather than memorising it. Remember that there are sample config files in /usr/share/doc. For example, it might be a nightmare to memorise dhcp config.

13. Drink plenty of water and sleep well the day before the exam. 5.5 hrs is no joke (you get lunch break in between of course). My advice is not to do any last minute reading before the exam. Do something not related to the exam to help relax. Nothing can be worst than your brain blacking out or fingers making stupid typos. I thought this is common sense but many people forget it.

14. RHCEs have good reputation in the IT industry and many people have faith in them to manage their servers reliably. Do not degrade the reputation by resorting to using underhand tactics, sabotaging or cheating (including in the exams) to achieve personal goals. There were stories of students sshing into other students machine and doing nasty things when they know they were going to fail…

I wrote the tips based on my personal experience after passing the rhce 5 exam. I am sure that with enough effort, you should also be able to pass the exam. To me, experience is still valued more than a certificate. So don’t stop using linux even if you passed. Keep in touch with the latest linux development and open source technologies. Have good system administration practices.

Welcome to the RHCE family and good luck with the exams,
Bernard Peh

Author: bpeh

Bernard Peh is a great passioner of web technologies and one of the co-founder of Sitecritic.net Website Design and Reviews. He works with experienced web designers and developers everyday, developing and designing commercial websites. He specialises mainly in SEO and PHP programming.

1 thought on “RHCE Exam Tips”

  1. About man: better, look at man carefully during the lectures/labs and try to understand where to find things that you’ll need during the exam. There are some things that you just cannot do with the GUI.

    About SELinux: first thing you should do, even before starting section 1, is install setroubleshootd. It’s an incredibly useful tool.

    About doing all of section 1 and not wasting time on section 2 if you do not know how to do it: very good tip. Section 1 is very much a preparation for section 2, and you need to do it in sequence. Instead, the exercise of section 2 are (usually) self-contained. Note that the new exams are only 3.5 hours (IIRC), and I managed mine in a bit more than two.

    About reboot: take your time to triple-check iptables and chkconfig. Never use iptables from the command line, it’s likely that you’ll make some mistake or forget to save something. You’ll be requested different firewall rules for different services, and it’s very easy to make stupid mistakes.

    About sabotaging/sshing: no, the exam environment is firewalled.

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