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Need Answer to Urgent Multiple Choice Question; Signed, Your Boss

Posted by TestOut Staff on

Here's something to think about for all of you working IT professionals out there. When is the last time that your manager sent you an urgent e-mail to start the day that was written up sort of like this:

That urgent multiple choice question from your boss

Dear Ted,

I need you to look into this issue right away and get back to me. Suppose that I have an application whose behavior depends on the environment variable BAR. Which of the following command lines may be used in a bash shell to configure the application?

  • A. export $BAR=baz; echo $BAR
  • B. set BAR=baz
  • C. BAR=baz ; export BAR
  • D. echo $BAR=baz
  • E. declare -x BAR=baz
  • F. echo BAR=baz

I've got a hunch that it might be D, but I don't know for certain. Look it over and get back to me ASAP. Thanks!


Let's face it, the real world isn't multiple choice. And while taking a multiple choice test may be a good indication of how well you are able to memorize facts, it doesn't entirely measure your ability to do actual work in a real-world IT environment. The best way to prepare for a certification exam is by learning how and why things work, and then reinforcing that learning by performing actual workplace tasks.

The example above is the sort of question that you might encounter on, for example, the Linux+ certification exam offered by CompTIA. The correct answer is either C or E; both will get the job done. If you're just looking for the first few letters of the answer that you remember memorizing, however, then you might not notice that there are two valid options. That wasn't specified by the source of this particular review question.

If you actually know what you're doing, on the other hand — and you remember to read the entire question before clicking an answer — then you're much more likely to realize that more than one of the options is correct. That's the kind of learning that's reinforced at TestOut Continuing Eduction through courses like Linux Pro. Frankly, in the real IT world there are often multiple means of getting to the same end, and which one you choose is up to you.

Don't settle for multiple choice learning just because it's the easiest way to pass a multiple choice test. Challenge yourself by using performance-based training to actually learn how to do things on the job. You'll have a better experience both with the test and on your first day at the office (and every other day after that). And if Harold hits you up with an urgent multiple choice question on Monday morning, well, you'll still be able to handle that, too.

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