You can pass the CCNP R&S exams the first time, but it’s not as simple as just studying everything. Here are a few things to keep in mind when preparing…
The CCNP exams test CCNA-level skills and knowledge, too
That’s a good thing, because it helps weed out those who “brain dump” the exams. If you got lucky with OSPF on your CCNA exam, you’re not going to get lucky on the CCNP ROUTE exam. You really DO need to know this stuff. You can’t just pass the CCNA composite exam and then forget everything. You have to have a solid foundation to build on. You’re never too educated to go back and revisit the fundamentals.
Spend most of your time studying configuration and troubleshooting at the command line interface.
There’s no hard and fast rule on this, but a good rule of thumb is this: make sure you spend AT LEAST 50% of your time in IOS. Both the ROUTE and SWITCH exams have some simulations, but the TSHOOT exam has a LOT. If you’re not proficient with the command line interface, you won’t pass. Again, this weeds out the dumpers, and it raises the difficulty level of attaining the cert.
Write down all your questions in one place and periodically revisit them.
You’ll be amazed at how many questions you will learn the answer to without realizing it. Some questions you’ll look at and think, “Duh, that one’s easy. How did I not know that before?” From my CCIE studies, I have a list of questions that I organized by category: Layer 2, Layer 3, Security, QoS, etc. Writing down questions also reminds you of how much you DON’T know, highlights your misconceptions, and becomes a de-facto study guide. The last thing you want going into the exam is a false sense of security.
The exams cover a LOT of topics, and some of them are pretty in depth.
This is where a lot of people get frustrated, confused, or just overwhelmed. They look at the exam topics, see the magnitude of it all, and try to study and memorize everything about everything.
That’s one of the biggest reasons I’m creating a series of CCNP R&S courses for Pluralsight.
The first course, Basic Networking for CCNP Routing and Switching 300-101 ROUTE was released this month. In each course I focus on real-world customer requirements and then demonstrate how to configure them step-by-step, explaining each command as I go. When watching the courses, you’ll quickly get an idea of what areas you need to study more and what areas you already know.
Not only that, each course module includes an assessment which thoroughly tests your knowledge of the relevant exam material. And, if you get an answer wrong, it will take you to the exact spot in the course where I cover that particular topic. It’s an incredibly effective way to study and learn quickly.
Check out the entire CCNP Routing and Switching learning path.
Update: Visit the CCNP Routing & Switching forum