So, last Friday morning I turn up to my local test centre ready to face the 642-813 Implementing Cisco IP Switched Networks exam. I had done the labs, read the books (David Hucaby's Official Certification Guide and the Foundation Learning Guide that accompanies the Cisco Networking Academy course), I had also passed my CCNP SWITCH Networking academy course with flying colours. So passing the certification exam was going to achievable wasn't it...WASN'T IT?
After 2 hours I knew I had failed even before the screen pinged up with my score. Close but no cigar. After the initial frustration (taken out on the interior of my car) I ran through the exam result sheet which clearly showed the Simulators sticking out like a sore thumb. Trying to think back at the questions I had faced also revealed another area - 'Planning'?.
Finally, I did a Google search for 'Failed CCNP SWITCH exam' and it was then that 2 + 2 made 4. On forums and chat rooms across the web one acronym kept turning up - BCMSN.
BCMSN! after smacking my fore head for being such a dumb ass I came to the realisation that that was what had let me down. I had used the old CBT Nuggets videos on the BCMSN. I had sourced abridged notes on the BCMSN study material (publically available from your popular studying blogs) combining them with the official SWITCh material I thought I had every thing covered. But I hadn't.
The new CCNP SWITCH focuses on practical hands on tasks required in such roles as a Network Engineer, BUT and here is the crux of my failure, it also focuses on the Preparation, Planning, Design, Implementation, Operation and Optimisation of a network. Some of the area's were tested thoroughly on the BCMSN exam but Preparation, Planning, and Design certainly weren't.
And so there I had it. I had nailed the practical stuff but dropped short on the Preparation, Planning and Design.
So what I am going to do? Well between now and 3 weeks time when I sit this exam again I'll be looking back at Chapter 1 - PPDIOO and tailoring my lab work against each criteria. Goodbye BCMSN videos and material and hello harder studying.
A (£117) lesson learnt. The hard way.