I attempted the rhce exam in melbourne on Jan 2009 for the first time and passed. One of my friends asked me to share my experience and I thought it might be a good idea to do it online.
If you are into linux, redhat certification is the way to go. While being redhat cerified does not guarantee you a job, it does look impressive in your resume. But having said that, I did hear stories about doggy rhces who couldn’t perform in real-live scenarios. Experience is one thing and passing the exam is another. To a certain degree, you need to have enough linux experience to pass the exam but I also believe that a linux newbie can get rhce within a short time if he gets the right exam tips and memorise or study hard enough – I don’t agree on that but there were stories floating around.
In late 2008, I decided it was time for me to try out RHCE. I googled around only to find out that many experienced linux users were finding it hard, the most notorious being an article published in linux.com – sitting for the rhce exam. There were some forums saying that it wasn’t hard but some said that the passing rate is 50%. So I had mixed feelings. I did the rhce pre-assessment test at https://www.redhat.com/apps/training/assess/ and didn’t do well. I remembered doing the pre-assessment back in 2005 and didn’t get a good grade either but I still passed rhct on first attempt. The exam is practical so I was not too worried about the pre-assessment. I would be worried if I get 0 or super low marks for many sections, meaning that I know nothing about them.
I then went on to look for study materials and could not find many. I know that exam takers have to sign a non-disclosure agreement, and hence cannot make rhct/rhce exam information available to anyone (There will be serious consequences like having their certification revoked).
I found a popular rhce book by michael jang in amazon.com. Immediately, I made a trip down to my local computer bookstore and flipped through it. I felt it was too detail and didn’t like it. Most important of all, it wasn’t RHEL 5 (Pls don’t discredit the book. It is good but just not for me). So I came back and did more research and found some rhce self learning software. Some of them offer money back guarantee if you fail the exam – sounds good!. So I downloaded the demo and gave it a go. It was basically a combination of MCQ + Q and A thinggy. The thing that I don’t like is the ambiguity of the questions like “how many steps are needed to add a partition?”. Well, “how many steps?”, do you include the steps in fdisk or not? What if you use parted instead of fdisk? Or is it just conceptual like, step 1 – check for disk space, step 2 – fdisk to add partition, step 3 – write partition table to mbr. and so on… I believed I could answer most of the questions but didn’t get them right because I couldn’t understand the questions. I then emailed the software creator, giving him my suggestions.
I later went to ebay, youtube and a few other sites to look for resource. To a certain degree, I believed some of them did contain some leaked exam information (not sure to trust them or not). There were also some exam practice rpm floatng around (if I remembered correctly) and in fact some practices were very good. Thinking back, I asked myself why I wanted to take the rhce exam. My objective was not only to pass the exam, but I also wanted to know redhat’s approach and new things in RHEL 5.
LIke traditional schooling, my sub-conscious mind told me that real human interaction is still important. So I decided to look for some prep course in rhce. I noticed there were quite a few companies that offer short rhce courses but I couldn’t find any near me. The closest was actually redhat themselves. The 5-day RH300 cram course looked cool but the only problem was the $3300 AU (incl. gst) price tag. I registered for the course anyway and cc a copy of the registration to my management. I was a bit thick skin that time as I explained why it should be a paid leave and that they should sponsor the course. Well, they did and the journey began…