Today I got the results for the RHCSA EX200 exam which I took yesterday and passed with full marks, I received a score of 300/300 with the passing score being 210. This is just a quick review about the materials I used and how I studied to pass the exam, I hope that this guide will help you study! I will not be discussing any of the contents that were within the exam, if you’re interested in what is covered have a look at the exam objective page here.
Update November 2015: Our Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE EX300) 7 exam study guide is now available!
I’ve taken a break from the Microsoft world since earning my MCSA 2012 in December last year – the time of my last blog post here. I started studying for the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) for something different however towards the end of my study for that my work was able to send me on the RHCSA Rapid Track Course with Exam (RH200) which is something I’d asked if I could do. After a while I was given approval for it so put the Cisco study on hold and got straight into Red Hat. As a system administrator that deals primarily with Linux I was keen to get some Linux based certification as prior to the RHCSA I had 5 different Microsoft certifications which might give people the wrong impression about my skills.
To study for this exam I made use of the following materials:
- Red Hat RHCSA/RHCE 7 Cert Guide: Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 (EX200 and EX300) (Certification Guide) by Sander van Vugt
- RHCSA & RHCE Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7: Training and Exam Preparation Guide (EX200 and EX300) by Asghar Ghori
- RHCSA/RHCE Red Hat Linux Certification Study Guide, Seventh Edition (Exams EX200 & EX300) by Michael Jang and Alessandro Orsaria
- VTC: Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) – Exam EX300 Course
- LinuxCBT EL-6 Edition
- CBT Nuggets: CentOS System Administrator Prep
The video courses were all great, it’s always good to watch someone do something before you try to do it yourself in my opinion as this enables you to better understand what’s actually going on. Personally I liked the LinuxCBT series the best however it was also the longest at 40 hours, though I skipped some of the videos that were about topics that I knew were not covered in the RHCSA exam, the exam objectives page here lists the topics that are covered.
The two books were very useful as well, I started my study first with the RHCSA/RHCE study guide reading chapters 1-9 which cover the RHCSA, chapters 10-17 are focused on the RHCE so I’ll go back to that some time in the future. This book was good as per the name it was directed at the subjects that are in the RHCSA exam, however I liked the real world skills for red hat administrators book better as it seemed more practical, as per the name I suppose.
All the materials were great and had something unique to offer, I learned new things from all of them so it’s hard to just pick one video course or one book only to recommend for study. In regards to the books the RHCSA/RHCE study guide by Michael Jang seems to have a better rating on the Amazon website currently so that may be better if you only have time to just read one book.
RH200 Course Review
In addition to the above materials, I was also doing the RHCSA Rapid Track Course with Exam (RH200) which is a 4 day course with the exam on the 5th day, however I tend to over prepare and learn as much as possible as it helps me feel less nervous when it gets closer to taking the exam, in any case it beats failing and having to pay to take it again!
The course was really great, if you can part with the money to take it and want to learn really quickly and already have some Linux experience I’d highly recommend it. If you don’t have Linux experience then the course is not for you, as implied by the name “Rapid Track” it’s a quick course to hit all of the key areas of the exam. If you don’t have very much or any Linux experience you’d be better off with the two courses Red Hat System Administration I (RH124) followed by Red Hat System Administration II with RHCSA Exam (RH135).
Basically the Rapid Track course is the combination of both of these, from what was explained to me on the first day, so it depends on your current skill level. To help you know where you’re at you can complete the skills assessment test here which will ask you about 50 questions and based on the results suggest you a course. You also get to see the areas you are good and not so good at which helps you know where to focus your time towards improving.
The course covered essentially everything that was in the exam. By the time I took the actual course though I’d gotten through most of the above material listed previously in my own time and I found some parts of the course a bit boring as I’d already gone over some areas so much already. This isn’t saying anything bad about the training, probably more that I didn’t need to study so much beforehand, or perhaps I should have done the course that included both RHCSA and RHCE exams instead.
Practice practice practice
The EX200 exam is practical, you sit at a computer with Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) installed and have to complete a series of tasks. For this sort of exam the best way to practice is by doing, that’s not to say all of the videos and books listed previously are useless as I found them very useful, but actually installing the OS and doing the things yourself is probably the most important thing that you should look at doing. This is why I found the RH200 course so great, because the whole thing was basically a hands on lab where you have to work through things and complete various tasks.
If you’re practicing on your own you can download the RHEL ISO and install it, I did this in a virtual machine for educational purposes. You can use the free trial and you don’t need a subscription to use it, this just means you will not get updates and support which should be fine for practicing.
A great alternative is to look at using another distribution like CentOS. I’ve been using CentOS for about 3 years and it aims to be 100% binary compatible with RHEL which is the upstream provider. What’s great about CentOS is that it’s free, so you can download it and install it and all of the commands and tasks you would do in your practice would apply to RHEL.
At some stage in the future I definitely want to look at completing the RHCE EX300 exam as that’s the logical next step and I don’t think I would need too much additional study, I don’t think I’ll do a Red Hat course this time around mainly as it would cost about $5,000 AUD for the RH300 course which seems to come with both the RHCSA and RHCE exams while I only need just one of those. Looking back I probably would have been better off doing that course from the start and completing both exams together so I may have underestimated my skills when selecting one to do. I’m not sure if I’ll get back into doing the CCNA first which I put on hold to start the RHCSA and then do RHCE, or do RHCE first – you’ll find out which I complete in a future post no doubt.
The RHCSA certification is valid for 3 years, but if you earn the RHCE then that extends it so that it’s 3 years from that date, so the further off I leave that the longer my certification will last. The problem of course with that is, recently RHEL 7 release candidate came out so there will probably be certification for RHEL 7 soon and to get the RHCE with RHEL 7 it appears that I would have to do the RHCSA again with RHEL 7, so I might just look at doing the RHCE 6 first and then look at doing 7 some time far in the future. Once I have completed RHCE and CCNA I’ll probably look at going back into the Microsoft world and finishing my MCSE as mentioned in my previous post, the fun never stops.