As some of you know, I’ve been back and forth on the CCNP Routing and Switching certification. A little over a year ago I sat in for the ROUTE exam and failed.
This time around I’ve decided to take on the 642-813 SWITCH exam first. Currently, I’m doing more work on switches than routers so it only makes sense right?
I’m determined to get a pass this time around so I’ve given myself plenty of resources:
CCNP SWITCH Official Certification Guide (OCG) – This is my primary text book. I am reading it from cover to cover (can’t forget the coffee.) The way I schedule out my reading is I keep it to one chapter per week. There’s 18 chapters so I should be done with the book in 18 weeks.
To be clear – I may not be ready for the exam in 18 weeks, I would be finished reading the text book. I may very well need to re-read some chapters. That’s fine. It’s better to know the material than to speed along just to pass an exam.. because you won’t pass if you don’t know it.
There are pre-chapter quizzes. I’ve opted to leave this process at the end of reading a chapter.
At the end of each chapter there is a section called “Exam Preparation Tasks”. Use this section to verify what you’ve just learned. Review the key topics listed and be sure you can define the key terms. What I actually do with this section is I turn it into a blog post. I write about the key topics and key terms but in my own words.
If I have trouble explaining those topics then I either:
- Re-read the section in the OCG
- Find the section in the CCNP SWITCH FLG
- Find external material to help solidify the topic in my brain
- Cisco’s documentation
- Cisco Learning Network
- Other blogs
If you can teach it then you’ve done well. Only after doing the above I then take the chapter quiz. Didn’t do so well? Then spend more time reviewing.
Implementing Cisco IP Switched Networks (SWITCH) Foundation Learning Guide (FLG) – This is a supplemental text book to the OCG. I may not read it from cover to cover but it’s a nice to have if you want to read more details about a specific topic. You may even want to make this one your primary text book if you’re new to network engineering.
CBT Nuggets – For $99/mo you can have access to CCNP training videos. Jeremy Cioara is an excellent trainer. I don’t even fall asleep while watching or listening to these videos.
INE Videos – I’ve heard good things about INE’s CCNP series training videos. If anything, I would use this as secondary to CBT Nuggets if I find myself scoring lower than expected on a practice exam.
Forums, Blogs, etc – There are so many other resources out there. For example, Cisco has all their documentation online. If you’re having a hard time understanding HSRP, perform a Google search and find Cisco’s documentation on just that. Other people may have asked your question on forums. Don’t be afraid to ask on forums either. There are many blogs out there dedicated to passing certifications but it may be harder. INE has a good blog which discusses some certification topics.
I don’t have a normal schedule. My wife and I work very hard and we have a 2 year old toddler who is very active. The majority of my studying gets started after my son goes to bed. Sometimes I have to make dinner. There’s grocery shopping to do beforehand. Don’t forget the laundry. Time management will be key here if you have a life similar to mine.
They say sticking to a schedule is key. What is more important is making it fit around your current schedule. Will it be 1-2 hours every night? Every other night? This is entirely your call.
Since I study in the evening, I can probably dedicate 2 hours max of studying. I wake up early to be at work by 6am. Some nights I just can’t study and I need sleep. If you can, get those training videos on MP3 and listen to them on your commute.
Write your notes in Evernote so you can review them anywhere. I have the Evernote app on my iPhone, iPad, and laptop.