In the second week of December 2014 I sat the CCNP ROUTE exam for the fourth and final time and passed.
I have to say that I was starting to get pretty frustrated with this exam, the issue in my mind is that there are many questions that were basically a reading or comprehension exam. Lots of times I was sure that I knew the answer but then I had to spend time reading and re reading the answers so as to not get tripped up by the wording.
I know most of you would say that is the same for all exams but I particularly felt this to be the case fro ROUTE I honestly don’t remember having these issues with SWITCH (but on the other hand it has been 12 months since I sat for that). I really hope that the newer exams focus more on knowing and applying the technology and not trying to trick the examinee by very closely wording the answers and also the ambiguity of the questions.
I assume that these problems are at least partly to combat cheating and to simulate time pressure in the exam and it definitely does induce some stress, at least it did for me.
Exam rantings and frustrations aside I learnt a lot while studying for this exam which I am very pleased about. I did a lot of labbing and made a lot of mistakes along the way which helped a great deal in spotting mistakes in configurations and this helped me as I then got to take the time troubleshooting and learning how to quickly spot basic mistakes.
In addition to this I tried to come up with a better study method than I had used in the past, unfortunately I don’t think I made great strides in this department however I do believe I picked up some good habits but I definitely need to work on this area if I want to take it further (CCIE/University etc).
Once ROUTE was done and dusted I had two of the three required exams out of the way on the CCNP R&S track (version one) and that left only TSHOOT to go.
As the deadline for the old TSHOOT exam was coming up and we were now in the Christmas period I thought I would try and knock it out before January 29 2015 as I already had the study material for the old TSHOOT exam (both the official cert guide and the foundation learning guide).
I had read a lot of forum posts about this exam and lots of people said to just review the ROUTE and SWITCH material and to take TSHOOT while this info was still fresh in the brain. I spent the weekend reading through the official certification guide and I found that most of the material was familiar as I work in a NOC and troubleshooting is a primary function of our job. Long story short I sat the exam and passed first go, only by the skin of my teeth, but hey a pass is a pass.
Honestly at this point have no idea. I know that I would like to focus on routing and switching and I really want to dig deep and expand my knowledge of foundation protocols. To this end I have ordered TCP/IP Illustrated to take a good look at how TCP really works. I am also looking at picking up MPLS VPN architectures vol 1&2 and internet routing architectures plus Routing TCP/IP vol 1&2 for some more light reading.
Will I start studying for the CCIE…the short answer is no, I know that now is not the right time. Before I even think of taking on this beast I want to expand my knowledge wide before I go deep, specifically with service provider technologies and gaining a much deeper understanding of TCP/IP. On top of this I am going to start looking at different study techniques and putting them into practice to see if I can make up some of the study shortcomings I have identified while studying for the route switch track.
I was also looking at the CCDA/CCDP but my hesitation here was that I didn’t want to waste time picking up certifications just for the resume. I’m not going to spend my time on something that may not benefit my technical skills as much as say jumping straight into the SP track and so from this I have decided that since routing and switching is fresh in my head I will be concentrating on service provider technologies (bgp, mpls, isis etc) as well as TCP/IP.
So I hope to be able to publish some more interesting technical blogs in 2015, some no so specifically related to exam topics but more focussed on specific technologies.