Previous Page
Next Page

Exam Prep Tips

The Solaris certification exam reflects the knowledge domains established by Sun Microsystems for the Solaris OS administrators. The exam is based on a fixed set of exam questions. The individual questions are presented in random order during a test session. If you take the same exam more than once, you will see the same number of questions, but you won't necessarily see the same questions.

Solaris exams are similar in terms of content coverage, number of questions, and allotted time, but the questions differ. You might notice, however, that some of the same questions appear on, or rather are shared among, different final forms. When questions are shared among multiple final forms of an exam, the percentage of sharing is generally small.

Solaris exams also have a fixed time limit in which you must complete the exam.

Finally, the score you achieve on a fixed-form exam is based on the number of questions you answer correctly. The exam's passing score is the same for all final forms of a given fixed-form exam.

Table 1 shows the format for the exam.

Table 1. Time, Number of Questions, and Passing Score for the Exam


Time Limit in Minutes

Number of Questions

Passing %

Sun Certified System Administrator for the Solaris 10 Operating System: Part 1




Sun Certified System Administrator for the Solaris 9 Operating System: Part 2




Question types on both exams are multiple choice and drag & drop. As of this writing, there are no true/false or free response type questions.

Remember that you do not want to dwell on any one question for too long. Your 90 minutes of exam time can be consumed very quickly and any unfinished questions will be marked as incorrect

Correctly answered questions receive one point each. Many of the multi-choice questions are scenarios that have multiple correct answers. The question will inform you of the number of answers to select; however, if you get one answer wrong, the entire question is marked wrong and you do not receive a point.

When you finish the exam, you will receive the results with a report outlining your score for each section of the exam. You will not know which questions were correct or incorrect.

If you fail, you'll need to purchase another voucher and retake the exam after a two-week waiting period. Every exam will contain different questions.

If you feel that you were unfairly scored, you can request a review by sending an email to

Putting It All Together

Given all these different pieces of information, the task now is to assemble a set of tips that will help you successfully tackle the Solaris certification exam.

More Pre-Exam Prep Tips

Generic exam-preparation advice is always useful. Tips include the following:

  • The certification exams are directed toward experienced Solaris system administratorstypically 6 to 12 months of experience. Although the Sun training courses will help you prepare, some of the material found on the exam is not taught in the Sun training courses; however, everything on the exam is found in this book. To pass the exam, you need to retain everything that I've presented in this book. To help you assess your skills, I've created the ExamGear test engine which you will use to assess your retention of the materials. In addition, you can purchase hundreds of additional ExamGear test questions from to assess your knowledge of the material. I don't recommend taking the Sun certification exams until you consistently pass these practice exams with a 95% or higher in ALL categories.

  • Become familiar with general terminology, commands, and equipment. Hands-on experience is one of the keys to success; it will be difficult, but not impossible, to pass the exam without that experience. Review the chapter-specific study tips at the beginning of each chapter for instructions on how to best prepare for the exam.

  • Avoid using "brain dumps" available from various websites and newsgroups. Your exam may not match that particular user's exam and you'll obtain a false sense of readiness. In addition, brain dumps do not prepare you for the scenario type questions that you will receive on the exam, and may be illegal. You need to know the objectives and there is no shortcut for learning the material. Sun goes through a 13-step process to develop these exams and to prevent cheatingyou cannot pass these exams without understanding the material. Besides, what good is the certification if you don't know the material? You'll never get through the job interview screening.

  • Review the current exam-preparation guide on the Sun Web site. Visit my website,, for late-breaking changes and up-to-date study tips from other administrators who have taken the exam. Use the forum to talk to others that have already taken the exam.

  • Memorize foundational technical detail, but remember that you need to be able to think your way through questions as well.

  • Take any of the available practice tests that assess your knowledge against the stated exam objectivesnot the practice exams that cheat and promise to show you actual exam questions and answers. Sun knows that these exams and brain dumps are available and they change the questions too often for these types of practice exams to be useful. Too many users have written me to say that they thought they were prepared because they could pass the exam simulators, only to find the questions and answers were revised on the actual exam. I recommend the practice exams included in this book and the exams available using the ExamGear software on the CD-ROM. These are true skill assessment exams with flash cards to help you learn and retain while taking the exams. The test engine on this CD is designed to complement the material in this book and help you prepare for the real exam by helping you learn and assess your retention of the materials. If you know the material, you'll be able to handle any scenario-based question thrown at you. For more sample test questions, you can visit my website, I keep the questions up-to-date and relevant to the objectives. In addition, through our Solaris Certification online forum, you can share your experiences with other Solaris administrators who are preparing for the exam, just like you, and learn from those who have gone through the process. In addition, this website will provide up-to-date links to the official Sun certification websites.

During the Exam Session

The following generic exam-taking advice that you have heard for years applies when taking this exam:

  • Take a deep breath and try to relax when you first sit down for your exam session. It is important to control the pressure you might (naturally) feel when taking exams.

  • You will be provided scratch paper. Take a moment to write down any factual information and technical detail that you committed to short-term memory.

  • Many questions are scenarios that require careful reading of all information and instruction screens. These displays have been put together to give you information relevant to the exam you are taking.

  • Read the exam questions carefully. Reread each question to identify all relevant details. You may find that all answers are correct, but you may be asked to choose the best answer for that particular scenario.

  • Tackle the questions in the order they are presented. Skipping around will not build your confidence; the clock is always counting down.

  • Do not rush, but also do not linger on difficult questions. The questions vary in degree of difficulty. Don't let yourself be flustered by a particularly difficult or verbose question.

  • Note the time allotted and the number of questions appearing on the exam you are taking. Make a rough calculation of how many minutes you can spend on each question and use this to pace yourself through the exam.

  • Take advantage of the fact that you can return to and review skipped or previously answered questions. Record the questions you cannot answer confidently, noting the relative difficulty of each question, on the scratch paper provided. After you have made it to the end of the exam, return to the more difficult questions.

  • If session time remains after you have completed all questions (and if you aren't too fatigued!), review your answers. Pay particular attention to questions that seem to have a lot of detail or that involve graphics.

  • As for changing your answers, the general rule of thumb here is don't! If you read the question carefully and completely the first time and felt like you knew the right answer, you probably did. Do not second-guess yourself. If, as you check your answers, one clearly stands out as incorrectly marked, then change it. If you are at all unsure, however, go with your first instinct.

If you have done your studying and follow the preceding suggestions, you should do well. Good luck!

Previous Page
Next Page