Networking Concepts (PBL)

Category: Objective Test
Type: Individual


60-minute test administered during the NLC.

Objective Test Competencies: General Networking Terminology; Specific Network Operating System (NOS) Concepts; OSI Model & Functionality; Network Topologies; : Equipment for Network Access (firewall, DSU/CSU, TI, Wi-Fi, etc.); Network Security

Skills: Acquiring a high level of familiarization and proficiency in working on and with networks is essential in today’s connected workplace. This event provides recognition for PBL members who have an understanding of network technologies.


Objective Test

Objective Test Guidelines

  • No materials may be brought to the testing site.
  • Electronic devices must be turned off and out of sight.
  • Financial calculators may be used for accounting, finance, and analysis & decision making events; calculators will be provided for all other events.

The general event guidelines below are applicable to all national competitive events. Please review and follow these guidelines when competing at the national level. When competing at the state level, check the state guidelines since they may differ.


  • Dues: Competitors must have paid PBL national and state dues by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on April 15 of the current school year.
  • NLC Registration: Participants must be registered for the NLC and pay the national conference registration fee in order to participate in competitive events.
  • Deadlines: The state chair, or designee, must register each state competitor on the official online entry forms by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the second Friday in May.
  • Each state may submit three (3) individuals in all events requiring only objective tests and two (2) individuals or teams for all events that require a pre-judged or performance component.
  • Each competitor can compete in two (2) events.
  • Each competitor must compete in all parts of an event for award eligibility.
  • A team shall consist of two or three members. Exceptions are Parliamentary Procedure which must be a team of four or five members, and LifeSmarts which must be a team of two members.

Repeat Competitors

Competitors are not permitted to compete in an event more than once at the national level unless one of the following circumstances applies:

  • Modified Events: A competitor may compete in the same event when the event is modified. Note, if the only modification is a name change, competitors may not compete in the renamed event.
  • Team Events: One (1) competitor of the team may have competed in the same event at one (1) previous NLC; however, they may not compete more than twice in the event at the national level.
  • Chapter Events: Competitors may compete in a chapter event more than once (Community Service Project).
  • Individual Entry: A competitor who competed as an individual entry in a team event at the national level may compete in the same event a second time as part of a team, but not a second time as an individual.
  • Parliamentary Procedure: Two (2) competitors of the team may have competed in this event at a previous NLC; however, they may not compete more than twice at the national level.
  • Pilot Event: Competition in a pilot event does not disqualify a competitor from competing in the same event if it becomes an official competitive event. The participant may compete in another event as well as a pilot event.

Breaking Ties

  • Objective Tests: Ties are broken by comparing the correct number of answers to the last 10 questions on the exam. If a tie remains, the competitor who completed the test in a shorter amount of time will place higher. If this does not break the tie, answers to the last 20 questions will be reviewed and determine the winner.
  • Objective and Production Tests: The production test scores will be used to break a tie.
  • Objective Tests and Performances: The objective test score will be used to break a tie based on the tie-breaking criteria of objective tests.
  • Reports/Projects and Performances: The report/project scores will be used to break a tie.
  • Performances: Judges must break ties and all judges’ decisions are final.

National Deadlines

  • State chair/adviser must register all competitors for NLC competitive events online by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the second Friday in May.
  • All prejudged components (report PDFs, resume/letter of application PDFs, and project URLs) must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the second Friday in May.
  • All URLs and PDFs for prejudged projects and reports will be submitted by the state adviser via the competitive events registration form.
  • All production tests must be received at FBLA-PBL by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the third Friday in May.
  • Desktop Publishing—the finished product must be uploaded in PDF format by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the third Friday in May. Label all documents with the event title, competitor’s name, state, and school.
  • All production tests must be uploaded online.
  • State chair/adviser may make name changes only (no additional entries) by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the first Friday in June. Competitor drops are the only changes allowed after this date and onsite.

National Awards

The number of competitors will determine the number of winners. The maximum number of winners for each competitive event is 10. Only one (1) award is given to the schools competing in chapter events (Community Service Project and Local Chapter Annual Business Report).

Additional Materials

  • Financial calculators may be brought to objective testing and used for any accounting, finance, or analysis & decision making events.
  • Certain events may allow the use of additional materials. Please refer to event guidelines.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

FBLA‑PBL meets the criteria specified in the Americans with Disabilities Act for all participants who submit a special needs form.

Recording of Presentations

No unauthorized audio or video recording devices will be allowed in any competitive event. Participants in the performance events should be aware the national association reserves the right to record any performance for use in study or training materials.

Graduate Students

Graduate students may compete in all PBL events.


General Competitive Events Tips
Event Tips
Format Guide

Website Resources
General Networking Terminology
1. Describe the principles of data transmission.
2. Demonstrate knowledge of the purposes, benefits, and risks for installing a network.
3. Explain and convert number systems (e.g., binary, decimal, and hexadecimal.)
4. Identify types of networks (e.g., LAN, WAN, and MAN) and their features and applications.
5. Interpret basic networking terminology and concepts.
6. Identify various network operating systems (e.g., Novell, Linux, Apple, and Mac).
7. Identify the relationship between computer networks and other communications networks (e.g., telephone system).
8. State the differences between various network environments (e.g., peer-to-peer, client-server, thin client, n-tier, internetworks, intranets, and extranets).
9. Analyze the advantages and disadvantages of peer-to-peer and client/server networks.
10. Identify services delivered by a server, such as application server, communication server, domain/directory server, fax server, file and print server, mail server, and Web server.
11. Identify applications and server services, including printer, DNS, DHCP, and Internet services.
12. State the functions of common help desk tools and resources such as incident tracking, knowledge database, and staffing.
13. Describe the role of the ISP.
14. Define and explain the function of DNS, DHCP, WINS and host files.
15. Differentiate between various current protocols (e.g., AppleTalk, TCP/IP, IPX/SPX, NETBEUI, and DHCP).
16. Explain current network standards and pseudo-standards (e.g., IEEE, RFCs, and ISO).
17. Describe the role of the NIC (Network Interface Card) including explanation of the MAC (Media Access Control) address and its uses.
18. Define terms related to network media (e.g., shielding, crosstalk, and attenuation).
19. Identify standard high-speed networks (e.g., broadband, ISDN, SMDS, ATM, and FDDI).
20. Identify names, purposes, and characteristics of network connectors (e.g., RJ45 and RJ11, ST/SC/LC, MT-RJ, and USB).
21. Identify tools, diagnostic procedures, and troubleshooting techniques for networks.
22. Identify a MAC address.
23. Define the purpose, function, and/or use of the following protocols within TCIP/IP: IP, TCP, UDP, FTP, TFTP, and SMTP. HTTP, HTTPS, POP3/IMAP4, TELNET ECMP, ARP and NTP.
24. Identify IP addresses and their default subnet masks.
25. Identify the purpose of sub-netting and default gateways.
26. Identify the main characteristics of network attached storage.
27. Identify the purpose and characteristics of fault tolerance.
28. Identify the differences between public vs. private networks
29. Identify the basic characteristics (e.g., speed, capacity, and media) of the following WAN technologies: Packet switching vs. circuit switching, ISDN, FDDI, ATM, Frame Relay, Sonnet/SDH, T1/E1, T3/E3, and OCx.
30. Define the function of the following remote access protocols and services: RAS, PPP, PPTP, and ICA.
Specific Network Operating System (NOS) Concepts
1. Identify the general characteristics and functions of network operating systems (e.g., window NT, LINUX, and UNIX).
2. List and describe the function of the system files for major operating systems.
3. Navigate the desktop operating system environment using system utilities, system administrative tools, filestructure tools, and hardware-management tools.
4. Identify tools, diagnostic procedures, and troubleshooting techniques for operating systems.
5. Properly setup protocols, clients, and adapters on a network operating system.
6. Identify major considerations faced when installing a network operating system.
7. Configure a client to connect to a typical server such as UNIX/Linus, Netware, Windows, or Macintosh.
8. Determine the impact of modifying, adding, or removing network services (e.g., DHCP, DNS, and WINS) on network resources and users.
9. Install and configure MS Windows client and/or server operating systems operating systems in a server-centric network environment.
10. Monitor and correct server performance issues.Monitor and correct server performance issues.
11. Configure and connect computers to configure a domain environment.
12. Install cable to configure a domain environment.
13. Design and configure subnetting tables.
14. Select the appropriate NIC and network configuration settings (e.g., DHCP, DNS, WINS) protocols and NETBIOS/host name, given a network configuration.
OSI Model & Functionality
1. Identify the properties of the open system interconnection (OSI) standard.
2. Describe the evolution of OSI from its inception to the present and into the future
3. Describe the primary function of each layer of the OSI model and the way each relates to networking activities.
4. Describe devices in a network environment and their place in the OSI model.
5. Describe the network processes that use protocols and map these to the appropriate OSI levels.
6. Identify the OSI layers at which the following network components operate: hubs, switches, bridges, routers, NICs, and WAPs.
Network Topologies
1. Explain network topologies (e.g., star, bus, ring, broadband, and baseband).
2. List advantages and disadvantages and distinguish between the topologies and protocols of local area networks and those of wide area networks.
3. Compare and contrast wireless networking to wired networking.
4. Explore the concept of broadband and various incarnations, including DSL, cable, and high-speed wireless (e.g., satellite, WiFi, WiMax, and GSM).
5. Identify components and features of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) 802 Networking Specifications.
6. Identify the principles and operation of fiber optics, analog, and digital circuits.
7. Identify the principles and operation of wire (e.g., coaxial and fiber optics) and wireless systems and install.
8. Identify names, purposes, and characteristics (e.g., definition, speed, and connections) of technologies for establishing connectivity.
9. Demonstrate the use of connectivity methods (e.g., cable modem, DSL, T1, dial-up, and WiFi) and peripheral equipment (e.g., portable storage devices, printers, cable modem, and wireless technologies).
10. Specify the general characteristics (e.g., carrier speed, frequency, transmission type, and topology) of the following wireless technologies: 802.ll, 802.11x, infrared, and Bluetooth.
11. Identify factors which affect the range and speed of wireless service (e.g., interference, antenna type, and environmentalfactors).
12. Test, validate, and troubleshoot IP connectivity using TCP/IP utilities.
13. Demonstrate use of remote access (e.g., VPN and teleconferencing).
: Equipment for Network Access (firewall, DSU/CSU, TI, Wi-Fi, etc.)
1. Explain different functions of network communications equipment (e.g., modems, DSL/CSU, NIC, bridges, switches, routers, and hubs.)
2. Identify the purpose, features and functions of the following network components: Hubs, Switches, Bridges, Routers, Gateways, Brouters, CSU/DSU, Network, Interface Cards, ISDN Adapters, System Area Network Cards, Wireless Access Points, and Modems.
3. Discuss various types of network adapters.
4. Install and configure necessary hardware and software for a basic network installation, including the creation of a shared resource.
5. Explain the uses of current and emerging specialized server hardware, including RAID, blades, SMP, storage devices ultra SCSI, and hot-swappable technologies.
6. Explain advantages and disadvantages of wireless technologies
7. Identify the types of wireless network media (e.g., WiFi, WiMax, and GSM.)
8. Differentiate between broadband and baseband.
9. Identify different types of network cabling such as CAT5, Coax, fiber, and select the appropriate type of connectors for each.
10. Install and configure network cards (physical address).
11. Describe types of modems (e.g., analog, cable, and DSL) and standards.
12. Identify uses of virtual machines.
13. Configure a connection (e.g., IP, IPX, dial-up, PPPOE, authentication, and physical connectivity) given a remote connectivity scenario.
14. Select the appropriate TCP/IP utility from among the following: Tracert, Ping, Arp, Netstat, Nbstat, Ipconfig/Ifconfig, Winipcfg, or Nslookup given a troubleshooting scenario.
15. Select the appropriate tool (e.g., wire crimper, media tester/certifier, punch down tool, tone generator, and optical tester) given a wiring task.
16. Interpret visual indicators (e.g., link lights and collision lights) to determine the nature of a network problem.
17. Identify the utility and interpret the output based on output from a diagnostic utility (e.g., tracert, ping, and ipconfig).
18. Identify the cause of a client connectivity problem (e.g., incorrect protocol/client software/authentication configuration, or insufficient rights/permission).
19. Identify the cause of the problem involving a wiring/infrastructure (e.g., bad media, interference, and network hardware).
20. Choose the appropriate media type and connectors to add a client to an existing network.
21. Identify the purposes, characteristics, and benefits of software firewalls and hardware firewalls.
22. Demonstrate an understanding of the role of routers, switches, modems, and other network devices.
23. Identify key elements of VPN (virtual Private Network) and RAS (Row Access Strobe) technology for secure connectivity
Network Security
1. Define network security.
2. Identify security requirements and the need for data protection.
3. Develop, document, and implement a network security plan (e.g., install, configure, upgrade, and optimize security).
4. Identify, define, and describe the relevance of security goals (e.g., integrity, confidentiality, and availability).
5. Perform preventative maintenance for computer and network security.
6. Demonstrate understanding of physical and logical security issues and solutions.
7. Identify the security procedures and policies necessary to maintain, monitor, and support a network.
8. Identify potential risks and entrance points, including internal and external risks and the tools used to neutralize them (e.g., firewalls, monitoring, antivirus, spyware, and spam protection).
9. Identify techniques for disaster prevention and recovery (e.g., backup and restore).
10. Explain principles of basic network security (e.g., IP spoofing, packet sniffing, password compromise, and encryption).
11. Illustrate what fundamental legal issues involved with security management.
12. Identify various security, video, building utility monitoring systems and how they link to the network.
13. Describe and implement various forms of malware protection for servers, including antivirus software, spam, adware, spyware filtering, and patch management.
14. Demonstrate an understanding of and be able to identify both internal and external threats.
15. List the major types of malicious code and identify appropriate countermeasures.
16. Detail types of social engineering attacks.
17. Demonstrate an understanding of the concept and significance of auditing, logging, and system scanning.
18. Explain intrusion detection and identify some characteristics of an intrusion detection system.


PBL Program of Study


States may submit up to 3 entries.
Competitors must be registered for NLC and pay registration fee.
Competitors must pay dues by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on April 15.


Test: 1 hour