Last night saw me sit the end of course exam for the CCNP SWITCH Network Academy course. I bagged a passed with 75% and passed the course with a score of 86%, which will do for me.
I found it interesting chatting to the guys after the exam that the opinion of the exam and of the course in general was that the difficulty had been ramped up a touch. I've attended my Networking Academy with the same guys for 2 years now and I know roughly where we all sit in ability. In general we were all scoring 5-7% less on the new CCNP track compared to the CCNA track or the old CCNP ISCW and BSCI courses.
My thoughts for the new CCNP course are as follows:
Pro's - Course emphasis is much more on practical, hands on lab work and troubleshooting. Learn the labs and the commands inside out. The course material was easy to follow and well presented and I didn't notice the shocking errors in the chapter quiz's/exams that were present in previous versions of the CCNP
Con's - The course material is now in a book instead of being online via the netacad website. For me this was an annoyance as it wasn't made clear prior to enrolling on the course that I needed to purchase said course manual on top of paying my course fees. I for one would have preferred to have the cost of the book bundled in to the course fees and then it could have been handed out on the first night. Instead I had to order it that week so it would be delivered in time for week 2.
Also in having the course presented in a book it meant that I had to keep the weighty manual on me at all times on the off chance I had a quiet moment to continue my reading. Previously I could have just fired up the website and away I go.
Conclusions - I really enjoyed my time on the course and got a lot out of the lab time and the access to the tutor. I guess your experience will depend greatly on the availability of hardware and the quality of the tutor presenting the course however for me this was great value for money and well worth 16 evenings of my time.
If you get an opportunity to enrol on a Cisco Networking Academy course I highly recommend it.