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Firebrand Training, a few facts!

Discussion in 'Training & Development' started by DreamWorks, May 18, 2008.

  1. DreamWorks

    DreamWorks New Member

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    Anyone considering a career change or who may be thinking of embarking upon a certification track, will at some point come across Firebrand Training.

    Head office in London, training centres based in Oxfordshire and Germany, they claim others but in fact they don't actually exist.

    For any of you considering this company as your training provider you should be aware of a few key points.

    Almost none of the courses that they have on offer actually adhere to any official training, rather than using Microsoft MOC material or official Cisco material they write and use their own courses, know in the industry as 'grey' material.

    Whilst there is nothing wrong with this approach in particular it is done for a reason. They key aim of the company is to get your money, get you in and out in the fastest possible timeframe. They advocate 'accellerated training', for this read 'we will teach you the bear minimum to give you a chance at the exams. In truth if you attend any of the courses without the vendors requirements (Microsoft 18 months working at a high level in a multi domain environment) you will never pass.

    What you will get (depending upon your instructor) is a much knowledge as he can cram in given the very, very short time frame. You will not get the experience you need, nor the time to practice it whilst on the course.

    To compensate for the lack of time many instructors will give you 'cheat sheets' answers to the questions that have been downloaded and barely changed to hid their source, at least this has been my experience on the courses I have attended.

    Senior management frown on this (officially) but whatever gets the student through and with a smile is actually allowed.

    The classrooms are very, very poor (despite their claim of a state of the art centre) the equipment is usually old, the wiring is not in the least structured, lighting is poor as is ventilation and the chairs provided will induce more back problems than you may imagine.

    They will tell you that they have won the IT Training Company of the Year award 3 time in succession, but bear in mind there is no actual qualitative assessment for this award, it is based simply on a presentation created by the senior management team and a very good PR man.

    When you contact the sales team you will be given a high pressure sales (they are salesmen after all) who will promise you that you will learn, you will pass and that you do not need experience to do either. That will very much on how much experience you bring with you. They will actively encourage you not to talk about the fees with other students, this is because is you do you will find that course fees can vary considerably, sometimes by thousands of pounds.

    When you purchase the course you will also be purchasing exam vouchers, THESE ARE YOURS, YOU HAVE PAID FOR THEM. Why then do I stress that, well Firebrand have a neat trick, they will encourage you not to test if you are not ready, telling you that you may take the vouchers and test when you are ready. This has two effects, firstly if you test and fail you become downhearted and effect the course stats. Secondly, and more interestingly, if you don't ask for these unused vouchers then they will be absorbed back into the system and sold again to other students. The net result saves the company huge sums of money and is in fact THEFT!

    The food is excellent and especially good when you consider that the management team have set a limit of £10 per head, that figure provides three meals, drinks and snacks, but be prepared for the fact that if your course lasts more than seven days you will see the meals repeated.

    Bedrooms are basic and clean, testing facilities often fail due to poor infrastructure.

    Firebrand Training was originally an offshoot of The Training Camp (based in the USA) the 'parent company' is now in severe difficulties, due to falling student numbers and the fact that the company has been cutting back on all extras to stay in profit. Firebrand are very much in profit but are adopting the same practices, small and subtle changes that indicate a potential sale in the near to medium future. The first course I attended (some years ago) included a cheap but useful backpack, this was soon dropped to save the £5 that they cost. On my last course they have reduced the number of hi-lighter pens from 2 to 1 to save 50p per student !!!

    So how is it that I know these things and why write them here? I (and a small team) have been researching this method of learning now for many months, as to why, well that is simple: all of the best accademic research tells us that distributed learning works whereas mass does not. With this starting premis I decided to investigate.

    The conclusion is simple if you want to spend thousands of pounds for certification then this is the way to go, so long as you have low moral scrupals, if you want to LEARN, do it the way Microsoft, CompTIA and Cisco reccommend and learn the technologies properly.

    Oh, one last point, many if not all employers now check to see when and where you attained your certifications, more and more are now taking a very dim view of this 'brain dump' approach. So if you don't have experience to back up the certs, you will not get the interview, much less the job.

    You have been warned, you decide!
     
  2. GiddyG

    GiddyG Terabyte Poster Gold Member

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    I went with Firebrand for a course a while ago and, while the cousre and the tutuor were both substandard in my own opinion, I can categorically state that I was not offered any braindump materials at any time. In fact, I was given proper Mike Meyers books (brand new) which helped compensate for the poor quality (again IMHO) Firebrand own brand training materials.

    That said, I would never ever use Firebrand for training...
     
  3. tomhayward

    tomhayward New Member

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    I retired from selling IT training courses about a year ago. Prior to that I had worked, over the previous 14 years for three IT training providers. I left the first two companies because I discovered that what I was selling students was, in most cases, untrue. I do not tell lies.
    The last company I worked for was called NITLC. What I liked about NITLC was that they never knowingly asked me to say anything which was untrue, and, because of my previous experiences they let me contact, at random, past and current students.
    Yes, it is expensive to train this way. But, if the service is good and you need directed study, then it could be the way to go.
    There are many very good books on the market (thats how I taught myself Visual Basic) but practical experience on a live network may be a valuable mark on your CV, and you cannot get that from a book. Also, unless you are very strong willed and motivated, it will probably take you a longer time, and don't forget those exam fees !
    Finally, if any training provider says you can go from driving a taxi (for example) to MCSE in under a year forget it.
    Most salesmen who come to see you will be commission based and it is in his interests to sell you the biggest course he thinks you can afford. If you are lucky enough to get to see someone whose company will not allow them to sell you something which is unsuitable then you should be advised on the correct career path. I know of only one company who does just that.
     
  4. Zappa

    Zappa New Member

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    I've gone to Firebrand (nee Training Camp) a couple of times and found it to be a real value. I'm not sure where Dreamworks gets her information but let me say I was genuinely please with the quality of education I received and so was my employer.

    I did have a minor bad experience with an instructor who was an overweight, basically downright gross, ogre of a bloke. I guess he'd been working there a while, perhaps too long, and stunk of drink every morning but aside from that the rest of the organization was fantastic. Really a nice place to learn and I recommend it...although I wouldn't recommend "Mr. Stinky."
     
  5. Spark

    Spark Bit Poster

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    I spoke to them last year as I have been considering doing CEH and CHFI eventually and I found the sales guy relatively knowledgeable, but I don't think I would actually use their services.
     
    Certifications: A+
    WIP: MCSA
  6. zebulebu

    zebulebu Terabyte Poster

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    I did my CEH at Firebrand (when it was still 'The Training Camp'). Whilst I was perfectly happy with the content of the course, made some pals there and passed the exam, I had plenty of prior experience before doing the course. In common with every course I've ever attended, there were a couple of people who should never have been there - and this seemed to be far more prevalent on some of the other 'accelerated' courses (MCSE in a month? LOLOL), but to be honest, I thought the course was pretty good. The instructor, in particular, was awesome.

    The main gripe I had with it was that they were filiming 'The X Factor' whilst I was studying there - and I had squeaky voiced teens serenading each other outside my window at 1 in the morning - which led to a couple of (ahem) 'incidents'.
     
    Certifications: A few
    WIP: None - f*** 'em
  7. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    You abused some squeaky voiced teens ? Normally thats done by people already in a pop band ! :blink
     
    Certifications: CITP, BSc, HND, SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCEA, N+, Sec+, Proj+, Server+, Linux+, MCTS, MCPD, MCSA, MCITP, CCDH
  8. scaramoosh

    scaramoosh New Member

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    dreamworks, thanks so much for that post on firebrand.
    I have been called a few times by a real pushy sales guy who was trying to bully me into doing the training there. He was saying that they are a "different" training company as thay are the only ones to offer on site accomodation etc. This i was trying to tell the sales guy wouldnt work for me anyway as i have a baby!!
    as it goes i am going down the self study route at the mo and will take it from there...
     
  9. Button

    Button New Member

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    This is totally true,

    I attended firebrand when ir was the training camp two years ago now, the sales guy was really helpful in telling me the classes were only 5 to 6 people so the teacher can focus on users, you will learn a lot, a 9 times out of 10 pass rate, said classes would be from 9am - 8pm.

    I told the guy I was a beginner level and was still shadowing an engineer and even completed an induction form to say this of which I was told the tutor would read through these so he was aware of each persons levels. I arrived and there were over 14 people in the class a mixture of mcse, mcsa, mcp. The teacher knew nothing about our indvidual levels or background in IT. The first class on the first night lasted until 9pm and we were given reading and I stopped at 1.30am and had not even finished it as had to be in class for 8.00 the next day. The rooms are dark and dingy.

    By the second day I was struggling after the morning session and approached the teacher for advice. Whose reply to me was, you should not be on this course as I did not have enough experience and you are not realistically going to pass why dont you stay for the experience! This was not what I had paid my money for, he was rude and quite frankly belittled me in front of others too. He was not helpful did not try to advise me with a way forward or anything.

    I then phoned the admin department to explain the situation and did not see the point of me staying as I only had enough money for one lot of training and it would be wasted if I could not pass. I took the decision to leave and it was not until I returned home that the training camp then said I was unable to have my money back so I lost my whole training fund and forfeited £1,200 for asbolutely nothing! They conveniently would not provide me with a copy of my initial application form either that stated my experience after I went to CAB for advice.

    My advice look elsewhere
     
  10. dwhyte85

    dwhyte85 Nibble Poster

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    Alot of these bootcamps state you need knowledge before going into these courses, all of these courses are aimed at sticking in your head (cramming) not learning, I don't honestly think they are worthwhile for the cost (£6k MCSA???) or you'll get value from the course, you may have a cert at the end but... I don't think it'll prepare you.

    Saying that, I crammed from 2 books for 70-290 using practice exams (not brain dumps afaik) over 2 weeks and managed 814, but i setup some virtual machines and used the free 2003 copy (student testy majjiga) and made my own mini domain and played around this way.

    I really like this forum, people could do 'meets' and quite easily do a weekend of learning and probably get far more out of it than sitting being read from a book.
     
    Certifications: Bsc. Comp Sci, MCP, MCTS, MCSA, CCENT, MBCS
    WIP: ICND 2, CEH and converting MCSA to MCITP: Enterprise Administrator
  11. paulr

    paulr New Member

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    I did an MCTS at Firebrand in late 2007.

    "Almost none of the courses that they have on offer actually adhere to any official training, rather than using Microsoft MOC material or official Cisco material they write and use their own courses, know in the industry as 'grey' material."

    The instructor worked largely from the Microsoft Press books (the hardback red ones). The main modifications were changing the focus on various sections based on his experience of the exam. If by 'grey material' you mean BrainDumps etc. there were no such materials offered.

    "Whilst there is nothing wrong with this approach in particular it is done for a reason. They key aim of the company is to get your money, get you in and out in the fastest possible timeframe. They advocate 'accellerated training', for this read 'we will teach you the bear minimum to give you a chance at the exams."

    Yes ..... that's what they claim. It's accurate ; it's a very hard slog.

    "In truth if you attend any of the courses without the vendors requirements (Microsoft 18 months working at a high level in a multi domain environment) you will never pass."

    I am living proof that this is not true. You need (IMO for MCTS) a decent preunderstanding of .Net and OOP (working the Kalani books will be fine). The people who struggled on my course were those who came from VB6 who had neither.

    "What you will get (depending upon your instructor) is a much knowledge as he can cram in given the very, very short time frame. You will not get the experience you need, nor the time to practice it whilst on the course."

    Yes ..... and that's what they say as well. You do get some practice exercises, but it's not designed to teach you to program. It does what it says on the tin.

    "To compensate for the lack of time many instructors will give you 'cheat sheets' answers to the questions that have been downloaded and barely changed to hid their source, at least this has been my experience on the courses I have attended."

    Not on my course. They did state they chucked out people with Braindump material, though I've no idea whether this is true or not. There were two sets of practice tests for revision, one of which was the one in the MS Press book.

    "The classrooms are very, very poor (despite their claim of a state of the art centre) the equipment is usually old, the wiring is not in the least structured, lighting is poor as is ventilation and the chairs provided will induce more back problems than you may imagine."

    Didn't really find it a problem despite the 24/7 nature of the course. It was a fairly bare room with lots of computers. I did think the furniture in the rooms was a bit rubbish ; if I did another course I'd take a folding camping chair.

    "When you contact the sales team you will be given a high pressure sales (they are salesmen after all) who will promise you that you will learn, you will pass and that you do not need experience to do either."

    Not in my experience, though of course some may do this. I don't understand one thing ; if you paid for this yourself (you spoke to sales) and you dislike it so much why did you do it more than once.

    "That will very much on how much experience you bring with you. They will actively encourage you not to talk about the fees with other students, this is because is you do you will find that course fees can vary considerably, sometimes by thousands of pounds."

    We were told on the QT by someone there to negotiate hard if we ever did another course.

    "When you purchase the course you will also be purchasing exam vouchers, THESE ARE YOURS, YOU HAVE PAID FOR THEM. Why then do I stress that, well Firebrand have a neat trick, they will encourage you not to test if you are not ready, telling you that you may take the vouchers and test when you are ready. This has two effects, firstly if you test and fail you become downhearted and effect the course stats. Secondly, and more interestingly, if you don't ask for these unused vouchers then they will be absorbed back into the system and sold again to other students. The net result saves the company huge sums of money and is in fact THEFT!"

    The pass rate was something like 75% as far as I could tell. The only people who didn't take the tests clearly weren't ready and were struggling. I was never quoted a pass rate either in sales or in the course.

    "The food is excellent and especially good when you consider that the management team have set a limit of £10 per head, that figure provides three meals, drinks and snacks, but be prepared for the fact that if your course lasts more than seven days you will see the meals repeated."

    Outside the main meals snacks and drinks were unlimited. I probably got through that in a day just on drinks.

    "Bedrooms are basic and clean, testing facilities often fail due to poor infrastructure."

    Didn't happen on any of the three tests I took AFAIK.

    "On my last course they have reduced the number of hi-lighter pens from 2 to 1 to save 50p per student !!!"

    Possibly, but my experience was if you wanted more stationery you just asked for it.

    "The conclusion is simple if you want to spend thousands of pounds for certification then this is the way to go, so long as you have low moral scrupals, if you want to LEARN, do it the way Microsoft, CompTIA and Cisco reccommend and learn the technologies properly."

    They don't claim that you will 'learn the technologies' anyway. You pass the certification, that's the whole point. No one would seriously learn in that fashion.

    "Oh, one last point, many if not all employers now check to see when and where you attained your certifications, more and more are now taking a very dim view of this 'brain dump' approach. So if you don't have experience to back up the certs, you will not get the interview, much less the job."

    Obviously. The certs don't actually say where you took the course, mind, though you can tell because of the short gaps between the exams.
     
  12. amorrell

    amorrell New Member

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    I took the 9 day MCTS course in March covering the Windows Foundation (the required exam), ASP.Net 3.5 and ADO.Net 3.5. This was to try and gain the MCTS qualification in .Net 3.5 technology.

    My requirement was quite simple. Being a contractor I felt that in these quiet times it would make sense to use my time to gain formal recognition of my abilities. It would be good for the CV and allow me to fill in any grey areas. The thought of spending over £4,000 on a course was a huge committment and carried some risk. Having spoken with Fire Brand sales staff on and off for the last 12 months I was assured by them that the course would prepare me for the exams and I was very likely to pass. There are no guarantees, I know that, but I figured that with 20 years IT experience and 5 years of .Net usage I had a very strong chance of passing the exams.

    Why was I so confident? Well I was told that 90% pass the exams first time. You might want to ask them to provide statistics to back this up as it is not on their web site. I questioned this figure at least three times but was assured it is accurate. On balance though, I figured that an intensive course which has a strong lab element (more on that later) would be good enough to prepare me for a pass or a very close fail and I would retake any falied exam closer to home at a later stage.

    On day one of the course which I attended, the tutor told us all that the pass rate is nowhere near the 90%. A figure was quoted that I think was closer to 60% but the actual statistics from the course I was on might help you decide if this is right for you.

    Exam 536 (Foundation) - 13 delegates and 8 passes - 62%
    Exam 562 (ASP.Net 3.5) - 13 delegates and 4 passes - 31%

    I didn't receive stats for the ADO exam simply as there were still two people taking the exam when I left but believe that it would have been similar to the ASP exam.

    I wouldn't have minded failing any exam if the course, lab elements and self study were good enough to make me feel confident in the technical aspects such that I could retake these exams later.

    The balance of course lecturing to lab time is about 85:15 in my opinion. Sitting in a class room and being lectured gives you a great overview of the stuff you don't know and helps identify your weak areas. However, there is little time to gain lab experience during the course and it's down to you, after dinner finishes at 7:30, to decide whether you do lab work or read the books to cram in more knowledge.

    Personally, I learn by doing, and not terribly well by just listening for 8 to 10 hours. However I found that there were so many aspects to these exams that I just don't use every day that lab exercises would take far too long and I tried to read late into the night to approx 11pm.

    Intensive training can work very well as I know from previous experience on other courses with other companies but this Fire Brand course needs more time allocated to it. I think Fire Brand have determined how long people are prepared to stay away from home / work and shoe horned the material into the available time. They want your money / training budget.

    Yes, I passed the Foundation course but felt that there are areas I still don't know well enough to feel proficient enough to pass if I were to retake it next month. Do I care? Well yes, I do. I want to feel that the exam really ensures that I know the subject well enough to claim proficiency.

    What of the ASP course? Well the wrong book was supplied as the 3.5 version wasn't ready! That is not necessarily Fire Brands fault as they are sticking to MS Press publications but given that your money buys the books it would have been a nice gesture, if nothing else, to apologise and send out the books for .Net 3.5 when they become available. Or perhaps use a Wrox publication instead?

    I believe from my own experience and comments from other delegates that there are exam questions covering topics that simply aren't covered in the course material. This is small in number but still reduces your chances of a pass. I can't talk about them specifically but would recommend not attending this course until you done the online exam practice questions by MeasureUp. These are extremely challenging and in my opinion will highlight your weak areas quite quickly.

    I failed the ASP course but came away with a good understanding of some areas where I was previously weak. Regrettably though there are still too many technical areas where I need in depth lab practice time to build up this knowledge before I feel confident to take the exam again. I expect a retake might be possible in another 2 months.

    So what of the ADO course? This was all too brief and I simply didn't bother to take the exam, instead, preferring to defer this to another date when I have the ASP exam under my belt. I spent considerable time on the lab exercises this time but the MeasureUp questions simply raised more weak areas for me.

    I believe the course was mis sold to me under their claims of a 90% pass rate but naturally Fire Brand don't quite see it from my perspective. I complained and was willing to meet their Sales Director and the Sales Representative who sold me the course but they declined. Attending the course again is simply not going to help cover all the areas I feel are needed for the exam for me to pass.

    At the end of the day I think it was unfairly sold and not the sort of course I would recommend. If you want a refresher course and feel very proficient in the technology then this might be a good option for you. Be prepared for a tiring experience though as it will be very wearing.

    To remain positive though I would recommend the online MeasureUp tests which will possibly shock you into how much you don't know. But that is only a good thing and will lead to improvement. I'm sticking with the self teach route in future, it takes far longer, is harder to get the quiet time away from home but it is more reliable and rewarding - and much less costly.

    If you want a hands on course the Fire Brand way might not be for you - it certainly wasn't right for me.

    Andrew
     
    Certifications: MCP
    WIP: MCTS ASP 3.5
  13. JonnyMX

    JonnyMX Petabyte Poster

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    If they were that bad, why did you use them again?

    :blink
     
    Certifications: MCT, MCTS, i-Net+, CIW CI, Prince2, MSP, MCSD
  14. chasb441

    chasb441 New Member

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    glad i checked the site for firebrand issues. i have emailed them with a general enquiry and as of today ( contacted them yesterday) i have had 3 emails from salespeople.....but it seems they just want your money....thanks for the info on this thread...will look elsewhere. ....looking for a 'full-time cram course' (revision maybe) to consolidate a one year selfstudy effort for compTIA A+.....any suggestions welcome (uk based) :oops:
     
    Certifications: None
    WIP: compTIA A+
  15. Modey

    Modey Terabyte Poster

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    Plenty of college's offer professional training certs these days and are usually much much cheaper than the majority of private training providers. The local one to me offer A+ (quite popular) and many others (Cisco and MS stuff). Might be worth looking into.

    I believe LearnDirect (government run / funded) offer training courses for various certs but it's generally a self study type deal with extra help from a designated tutor. They only offer the training though, not the exams themselves.
     
    Certifications: A+, N+, MCP, MCDST, MCSA 2K3, MCTS, MOS, MTA, MCT, MCITP:EDST7, MCSA W7, Citrix CCA, ITIL Foundation
    WIP: Nada
  16. simonp83

    simonp83 Kilobyte Poster

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    I try to do my cert exams at the NITLC in Newark as it's such a nice place to sit and take an exam, never done any of their courses though. The Newark one isn't testing non NITLC students at the moment in Newark as i think Prometric sent out a software update that caused problems with machine crashes but i'd rather sit through a few machine crashes in an exam than go anywhere else.
     
    Certifications: A+, MCP, MCDST, MCTS, MCITP
    WIP: 70-291
  17. SimonD

    SimonD Terabyte Poster Moderator

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    Sorry but I used Firebrand earlier last month without issue, have a look at some of the dates and you will see that some posts are more than 2 years old.

    I have no issues with recommending Firebrand and I will be using them again (I have already used them three times now).

    My suggestion may be to just give one person a call, I have a salesman called Duncan at Firebrand who doesn't pester me, I call him up and enquire about course dates etc, we talk about availability and if it fits in with my timescales that's great, if not then he will leave it for a few months and call me back.

    Give Duncan a call and have a chat with him.
     
    Certifications: CNA | CNE | CCNA | MCP | MCP+I | MCSE NT4 | MCSA 2003 | Security+ | MCSA:S 2003 | MCSE:S 2003 | MCTS:SCCM 2007 | MCTS:Win 7 | MCITP:EDA7 | MCITP:SA | MCITP:EA | MCTS:Hyper-V | VCP 4 | ITIL v3 Foundation | VCP 5 DCV | VCP 5 Cloud | VCP6 NV | VCP6 DCV | VCAP 5.5 DCA
    WIP: VCP6-CMA, VCAP-DCD and Linux + (and possibly VCIX-NV).
  18. dhenderson

    dhenderson Bit Poster

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    Hi all,

    Im going on a CompTIA A+ course in November with Firebrand. Ive read the posts here. Just wondered whether they come highly recommended, what they are like etc.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 20, 2010
    Certifications: CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network +
    WIP: MCTS: 70-640 - Active Directory Server 2008 , configuring.
  19. tech.adonis

    tech.adonis New Member

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    Firebrand offers cramming not learning. I was sold two courses LPI1 and LPI2. Stated that classes would be from 8am till 9pm. Thats not what you get, the trainer is not always there for the labs, you'll on the whole be left without support. I am on the last days of the days LPI2 course. It became obvious ealy in the LPI1 course that I was not realy getting it and I only took the 1st exam. I failed. Those who were able to pass these exams under these conditions had many years of experience with Linix before they got there, at best these are revision courses. They do no test you to assess what your level is. The trainer although very knowledgable, a a really nice guy, lectures like a machine gun and relies on the exam sample questions he gives out as evening homework. The guarateed pass they stress so much to sell the course, is only good if you pay for another week of hotel bills. You can't arrange your own accomodation or if you live near enough commute to the centre. Tough. For the money they ask you can go to India to learn and get much more and see a bit of the world, not the forest of pylons that surround the centre. If these guy see a chance to clobber you for your money they will. Following the advice of Dreamworks, I will take my vue voucher and use them elsewhere.
     
  20. MrSQL

    MrSQL New Member

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    Ok

    i have just completed the SQL 2008 Developer course, and here is my very truthful feedback.

    There is a very big level of inconsistency between the course teachers. i.e. some are obviously very good, some not so good. i happened to get one that wasn't so good.

    we did the MCITP SQL Developer course, there were 14 of us. Only 2 passed the first exam TS Level.

    now, thats less than 15% pass rate - which is pretty bad in my eyes. The class wasn't full of beginners, we are all either business analysts, software developers, etc.. working quite heavily with SQL. so why the bad pass rate? well we were over worked, and not given the chance to study on our own. The teacher didn't cover enough of the course work, nor did the teacher understand that students need time on their own to study.

    im not going into more detail, other than to state i wont be using firebrand training again, and everyone that was on the course with me, would probably not use them again either.
     

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