by Sharon Florentine

CompTIA Taps Brain Science to Help You Conquer Certification Testing

News Analysis
Jun 09, 20143 mins
CareersCertificationsIT Jobs

CompTIA's CertMaster combines principles from neurobiology, cognitive psychology and game studies to help you learn new material and retain it for the long term.

CompTIA has launched a new e-learning tool that leverages research in neurobiology, cognitive psychology and game studies and uses key principles from each field to help you learn necessary information quickly and retain it long-term.

CompTIA Launches CertMaster E-Learning Tool

The CertMaster training program, available for A+, Network+, Security+ and Strata IT Fundamentals certification tracks, features a variety of techniques to help you learn, including adaptive learning, spacing and motivation triggers, says Terry Erdle, CompTIA’s executive vice president of certification and learning, and to give students the confidence to pass the test and move on to an IT career.

Closing the IT Training Gap

“We’ve seen over the years that we train far more people than we test,” Erdle says. “While there’s tremendous effort to train on tests like A+ and Network+, students don’t always follow through and actually take the exam, and we are trying to address some of the reasons that’s happening,” he says.

Erdle says sometimes this lack of follow-through is cultural, or because of logistical challenges — some students can’t physically get to a testing location, he says — but is most often a result of an intense fear of failure or lack of confidence in the ability to learn and retain the information.

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“We’re trying to overcome these challenges by tapping into brain science and figuring out how best to prepare students to both sit a challenging exam and pass, and also how to have confidence that those skills and knowledge will stay with them as they move into new IT jobs,” Erdle says.

The Science of Games

Most of the scientific research CompTIA used to develop CertMaster is the same as that used by the gaming industry to keep players engaged and energized while playing, and encourages a sense of progression, risk, achievement and curiosity. This pings dopamine levels — since it feels good to succeed — and creates a positive feedback loop, making it easier to retain information and skills. CertMaster also provides immediate, high-level feedback to encourage students to learn from mistakes and lessen the risk they’ll abandon the course, says Erdle.

Erdle says CertMaster’s personalized, adaptive learning and data analytics technology will customize the training to each individual’s strengths, weaknesses and level of knowledge and retention.

[Related: How Gamification Makes Customer Service Fun]

“In traditional learning, repetition is how material is taught. But in adult learning situations, each adult brings a different level of knowledge about different subjects, and it’s hard to know what’s relevant for each one,” he says. “CertMaster can quickly figure out and then benchmark each student’s knowledge so they’re not hammering on material they already know,” he says.

Data analytics can also predict when students have reached their maximum learning capacity and need to take a break.

CompTIA CertMaster is available starting June 4, 2014, and costs $139.00 per course, Erdle says. Discount pricing is available for academic institutions, and separate channel partner pricing is also available, he says. CertMaster can be accessed via any Web browser, and on both iOS and Android mobile devices. Visit for even more information.

Sharon Florentine covers IT careers and data center topics for Follow Sharon on Twitter @MyShar0na. Email her at Follow everything from on Twitter @CIOonline and on Facebook.