[lpi-discuss] paper vs. computer based exams

Anselm Lingnau anselm.lingnau at linupfront.de
Fri Sep 5 09:05:11 EDT 2008

Alan McKinnon wrote:

> Lest anyone thinks I have a poor opinion of the RHCE exam, I don't. As
> exams go, this is an especially good one and Red Hat put a lot of work into
> making sure it is relevant and meaningful. Luckily, false positives (people
> who passed but didn't deserve to) don't appear to happen in my experience.

I guess the false negative rate means that Red Hat wants to make *very* sure 
that the Anointed do know their stuff. If ever so many people who might (or 
ought to) have passed the exam in fact fail the exam, this is not really a 
big problem, from Red Hat's point of view, as long as there are enough people 
around who *do* pass such that enough certified practicioners are available 
to just satisfy the market's demand for official experts in Red Hat's 
offerings. It would not do to flood the market with certificates as this 
would make RHCEs too much of a commodity. Red Hat presumably doesn't want 
three RHCEs competing for every job or project on offer; much better for 
everyone concerned to keep numbers down, hourly rates high, RHCEs in work and 
the certificate desirable because it helps ensure that RHCEs actually have 
something to do with themselves. On the other hand, if Red Hat were to decide 
to err the other way, reducing the number of false negatives (people who 
ought to have passed but didn't) will always to a certain degree increase the 
number of false positives (people who did in fact pass but didn't deserve 
to), which would taint the reputation of the RHCE certificate as a whole if 
word got out that x% of RHCEs are actually duds who do not know »ls« 
from »cat«.

It is as well to remember that Red Hat's main business is selling Linux 
expertise to commercial customers, with sidelines in developing and packaging 
software and providing training for the Red Hat »priesthood«. This is very 
different from LPI, which unlike almost every other certification provider in 
the IT industry does not have actual products to peddle other than 
certificates. In other words, LPIC certification is a first-class citizen; it 
can stand on its own without having to be constantly tweaked to deliver what 
external players such as the product development, product marketing, partner 
liaison, etc. departments expect from it this month. Instead, with LPI, our 
main work can be how to make the actual certificate better in the long run, 
i.e., improve the way exam results mirror actual expertise, ensure that the 
content is relevant and up-to-date, facilitate exam delivery, and so on. From 
my point of view this is a Good Thing.


(This is my personal opinion and not that of Linup Front GmbH.)
Anselm Lingnau ... Linup Front GmbH ... Linux-, Open-Source- & Netz-Schulungen
Linup Front GmbH, Postfach 100121, 64201 Darmstadt, Germany
anselm.lingnau at linupfront.de, +49(0)6151-9067-103, Fax -299, www.linupfront.de
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