Interested in becoming an Apple Certified Support Professional? I’ll tell you how I have passed it for the last three versions of OS X (Lion, Mountain Lion, and Mavericks).
Are You Ready To Pass the Exam?
If you can answer every bullet point on the exam preparation guide–without looking it up–you can easily pass with 75% or better.
How Should You Prepare?
- Read the book and do the exercises
- Understand core networking concepts (TCP/IP, DHCP, DNS, etc.)
- Use OS X on a regular basis for six months or more
- Attend a class if you don’t study well on your own
Read the Book and Do the Exercises
The official book that the exam is based off of is Apple Pro Training Series: OS X Support Essentials. After taking the exam three times, I can tell you that the exam questions are taken directly from this book, sometimes even word-for-word. Some of the exact questions can also be found in the exam guide.
The training book is over 800 pages, but also well-written. I would recommend getting it from peachpit.com as you will get amendments to the book and supplemental downloads, including an eBook, which is great for references (hint: Cmd+F). They will also send you a discount code when the next iteration of the book is released.
The first time I took the exam, I read the book through and through three times (highlighting and re-reading passages even if it seemed redundant). Repetition is the best way to remember things, but it is also very grinding. In addition, I had also been working with Macs for about one year. When I finally took the exam (10.7 at the time), I passed with 88%.
The exam isn’t really one you can just walk in and take. There is a massive pool of questions so you need to have a lot of knowledge about each section in the book.
On the plus side, you don’t really need to know any of the Terminal commands (but you should know the few used in Single-user Mode as there is a section on the book on this).
Understand Core Networking Concepts
There is a section in the book on networking fundamentals. So, if terms like subnet mask, DNS, DHCP, proxy, or VPN mean nothing to you, go back and read that section again. If you really want a firm understanding of networking fundamentals, I recommend something like the Guide to Networking Essentials (it is a pretty dry read, but very informational). I recall some questions were just basic networking questions–not relating to OS X at all.
Use OS X on a regular basis for six months or more
Nothing is as useful as actually using and troubleshooting OS X in real life. Having practical experience will act like the glue that makes all the book theory make sense. I would suggest using OS X for six months or more, trying to learn something new each day.
Attend a Class If Self-Study Isn’t for You
The classes cost a lot and will cover the entire book in about three days. If you go through a place like JAMF, you can also take the test right after the class. If you just want to take the test, be prepared to drop a couple hundred dollars.
Earning the Certification
Once you pass, you can post your credentials in the Apple Certified Professional Registry, where anyone can search for your name and see your certificate. You will also get a nice Apple logo you can use with business cards or your Website. They also send a nice paper certificate in the mail.