The right self-study materials can be key to achieving any IT certification.Have you been delaying your IT certification course because of a lack of time? If you are waiting for a time when your workload at the office is reduced, or when you will be able to compromise some family time for your certification classes, then you should realise that it may never come.

Instead, take comfort from the fact that tens of thousands of other IT professionals have managed to clear their certification exams purely on the basis of self-study. Self-study materials can be pretty engaging in various forms, such as online books, PowerPoint presentations, help manuals, and video tutorials. In addition, they help you complete your certification while spending less time and money when compared to classroom training or any other form of instructor-led training.

With so many different vendors offering a wide array of courses and training materials, how can you select the correct IT certification study materials? Which certification vendors can be trusted to provide complete self-study material for successful certification?

My objective is to share tips regarding the selection of the most appropriate and comprehensive self-study material for your certification course. So, let us take an in-depth look at the various options for self-study materials, and the pros and cons of vendor-provided certification study materials.

Finding Appropriate Sources for Self-Study Material

How do you start searching for the correct self-study material for your chosen certification course? There are many online certification vendors claiming to provide the best self-study materials with “guaranteed success” for your exam. This is bound to confuse you, just like too many advertisements for similar products confuse consumers.

You need to look for material that not only helps you clear the exam, but more importantly helps you understand the concepts clearly, so you can implement them at work when required. The best way to know which self-study material is good, is to look at the reviews of previous students who have cleared the same certification exam via the self-study route. Fortunately there are hundreds, if not thousands, of reviews on study courses and materials online. Take care to check out such reviews on various IT certification blogs or discussion forums.

You can even use the certification forums or sites like Quora to put forth your query regarding the best self-study material options to be used. People love to give advice and there is no better way to choose the right study material than to make the most of the suggestions from successful, certified, experienced professionals.

When selecting study materials you need to make sure that they are offered in a variety of complete formats. For example, don’t opt for a certified vendor or third-party that offers only e-books for study without accompanying practice exam questions, video tutorials or case study manuals as well. When you study on your own, you may understand some concepts better by referring to case studies, while others might be better understood by referring to videos or e-book.

A word of advice on practice questions: Be certain the study materials include several online practice exam paper sets. This will help you simulate an exam situation for the certification course, before appearing for the actual exam.

Because individual circumstances change and study styles are personal, remember that there is no one fixed form of study materials that may work for you at all times. Often the greater the variety of ways to self-study, the more likely you are to enjoy the process and not become bored with one fixed study format.

Are Self-Study Materials from Online Certification Vendors Enough?

Even though the self-study option is less expensive than classroom training, the cost can still be dear. Take care to include the costs of your study materials in addition to the actual certification exam itself. You also need to consider any additional costs in the event that you have to appear for a re-exam due to failing to clear the first time.

So, let us consider the pros and cons associated with utilizing prep material from an online IT certification vendor.


  • The study materials are guaranteed to be exam-focused and you can expect that renowned professional vendors to offer high-quality notes and video tutorials.
  • Professional vendors have to preserve their reputations and so they typically offer the best services even for self-study certification packages. You may even receive limited access to some experts for a couple of sessions to clear up any uncertainties.
  • Experienced vendors have been in the certification industry for a long time and it helps to be associated with them. They are not only able to help you succeed at the certification exam, but can also assist you in getting in touch with the right IT candidates who can explain a certification’s benefits for your career.


  • Be certain that you are utilizing materials from a reputable training vendor. Sadly, many certification training vendors make use of brain dumps to determine which question sets can be expected on the exam. Often unscrupulous vendors hire students or have their own faculty sit for the exam. The exam takers attempt to memorize questions and later relate them to the vendors who prepare practice materials with similar questions for actual students who have yet to take the exam. Not only do these vendors risk getting barred at any time, but if you were certified via them, then the chances are great that your certification may be tainted and even considered void. Additionally, brain dumps may help you answer specific questions, but they don’t do much for your actual ability to perform on the job. It’s better to do real studying to ensure you understand the concepts and are able to apply your knowledge in real-world situations.
  • If you are appearing for a certification exam in a technology area that is relatively new, then you may not know if the certification material provided by the vendor will suffice. Again, the solution is to stick with a reputable vendor who has their ear to the Industry and is aware of certification updates.

The ideal way to go about self-studying is to opt for additional study materials or video tutorials. This can be done by subscribing to a third-party online training facility, such as CBT Nuggets, who offer access to web trainers in addition to well-crafted study materials. Rather than rely on study materials from just one source, you can mix and match materials by enrolling for practice test sets or video training sessions with additional third parties as well.

The right self-study materials can be key to achieving any IT certification.Access to various resources will ensure that you gain sufficient knowledge about your certification subject and that you will be well versed with the type of questions expected on the exam.

Remember to be active on discussion forums (or any other forums) with different IT professionals who are using, or have used, the same self-study materials.

I hope the above information helps you choose the right self-study materials from the right certification vendor and/or third party. If you have any additional suggestions for selecting the proper self-study materials, let me know.

Please feel free to leave your comments below and, as always, thanks for reading!