[lpi-discuss] General comments on LPI levels

Mark Miller mark.miller at lpi.org
Sat Sep 17 20:29:39 EDT 2005

On Sat, 2005-09-17 at 16:16 -0700, ross e. brunson wrote:

> I totally disagree.  It's not a notion, it's observed behaviour in the
> real world.  I have seen people memorize enough of the LPI questions
> from TestKings etc. to be able pass an exam.  Those same people in a
> practicum exam would be completely at sea and probably fake a heart
> attack to get out of the exam.

Trouble is this is still anecdotal. There simply is no educational
research to support this assumption. A person can pass the test one time
and fail it another.  There are no psychometric measures of either the
validity or reliability of performance testing in this domain. There are
years of such studies with written testing. I'm not making this up, I've
spoken to people who make their living doing exactly this. 

> > The desire to do it on a
> > computer is a feel good thing.  Believe me, doing something once is NOT
> > proof that you really understand something.  
> SO, by inference, taking the LPI exam once is not proof that you really
> understand something?  If you understand it, you should be able to do
> both; answer a question and configure the item.  It's the preparation
> for all the objectives that really causes the person to be successful at
> any exam, study and practice helps you with either format.

True, and nothing prevents a data dump after they pass a test either. My
sole point it that while so many in the computer world feel that a hands
on test prevents the abuses of the MCSE fiasco there simply is no proof
of that. For the cognitive domain there simply is no advantage in
performance testing. 

I tend to believe that our tests identify the people who understand this
to a deep level.  They do not have the crutch of being able to look up
the man page or an artificially constrained problem due to time or
resources.  Ideally we would have a world that required multiple written
and performance tests taken over time. That is far too expensive in time
and resources for anyone but the largest of corporations (who don't have
the patience) or government (who do).

We are not doing anything but verifying that a person has a certain
level of skill at a certain point in time. Both approaches have their
strengths and weaknesses and we should recognize them.

> I still maintain that we should have a combination for the highest
> level, which honestly isn't directed (with respect and kudos to our 3rd
> world brothers) to countries with insufficient infrastructure to support
> the b/w needed to do this online.  There are testing mechanisms that
> would allow for a 2 machine online practicum exam in as little as 50KB
> per testing user, and they work now.

So far the big boys in the First World like the US don't grok Linux
well. That is slowly changing but Japan and Germany are much more aware.
Look for places like China, Venezuela, Brazil, Malaysia, and South
Africa to take off before you get North America and even Europe fully on

And in India, a place with a fair bit of good infrastructure, a $100 CBT
test is prohibitive for someone to take more than once.  Unless an
employer is picking up the several hundred dollar tab for a hands on
performance test it just won't happen.  Most people require more than
one try at getting certified on average no matter what certification you
are taking.

I stand by my assertion that performance testing in our domain is no
better than written tests and that the combination of the two is really
the best way to do it.  Right now I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for
LPI to do performance testing anytime soon.

Mark Miller
Program Manager
Exam Development Level 1
Linux Professional Institute

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