12 Replies Latest reply: Aug 25, 2012 7:14 AM by JamesVallespin RSS

    Passed Switch - My Goals and Study Methods


      So I passed SWITCH this morning and after reading John's post on how he passed ROUTE https://learningnetwork.cisco.com/thread/37724?tstart=0 I thought I would post my own record of how I passed SWITCH.  Hopefully others out there will find this useful on there journey to becoming CCNP.


      SWITCH is my first exam in the CCNP track.  After completing CCNA in October (for the 2nd time, reminder to self never let your certs expire again) I elected to start with SWITCH.  I elected to take SWITCH first as my current work environment is predominately L2 and L3 switching.


      How long did it take?

      Approximately 3 months.  I completed CCNA in October and the next day I was studying for SWITCH.  Dedicated or what!  Getting CCNP certified was always a goal for me and when I completed CCNA I became highly motivated to achieve my goals.  I was also in the perfect environment to complete my exams as I had access to a lab and real production gear.


      Study Materials


      CCNP SWITCH Official Certification Guide

      This was my bible.  Everything came from this.


      CCNP SWITCH Portable Command Guide

      Great little pocket book for reading on my journeys to and from work.  Extremely helpful in memorising command procedures.


      CCNP SWITCH Lab Manual

      This is where I got all my labs from.  Without this there is no way I would of been as confident as I was.


      INE - CCNP Routing & Switching Videos

      What can I say.  Wow these were amazing.  It was like sitting in front of instructor led course.  Highly recommend for those who are considering it.


      Cisco Learning Network - CCNP Study Group

      A great place with like minded people.  I wasn't a great contributer throughout my study as a lot of my questions were already answered by others.


      Lab Gear

      I was pretty lucky with the lab side of things as I was able to setup my own personal lab with spare gear at work.  This consisted of 4 x 3750's (2 distribution and 2 access layer). Honestly I would have to say this was one of the biggest advantages I had.  I had access to this gear 24x7 and used it at every opportunity I could.  Of course there is also our production network which consists of 6500's, 3750's and 2950's but this is strictly look but no touch as any change could bring down the whole network.


      Study Methods

      My methods for studying were quite simple.  My goal was to take a topic per week from the Certification Guide.

      I would read the relevant chapter from the Certification Guide (taking notes thoughout) and then undertake the labs from the Lab Manual.  During this time I would also watch the relevant INE vids.  Before moving onto the next topic I would take the practice questions from the Certification Guide and re-lab any areas that I wasn't confident with.


      When did I schedule my Exam date?

      I scheduled my exam date around 3 weeks from when I completed all the topics.  This gave me a date to prepare for and in this period I made sure I re-labbed everything and went over all the practice questions.  Anything that I wasn't confident with I went back to the books and went over again and again.  The forums came in handy during this period as it was a place to seek help and confirm my ideas.


      Exam day

      I made sure I had a good nights rest before my exam to ensure I would be fresh on the day.  The morning consisted of nothing out of the ordinary just my usual routine with a few practice questions thrown in for good measure.


      My tips and recommendations

      What can I say.  Like John I recommend labs, labs and more labs.  Make sure you are confident with implementing the technologies and understanding what is going on.  I guess I am lucky as I had a lab to access 24x7 and could spin up anything I liked on demand.

      I also recommend that you set yourself goals.  Without my weekly goals I wouldn't of been able to get through.  This is the 2nd time I have taken the SWITCH exam (previously it was BCMSN) and the reason I failed last time was because I wasn't dedicated enough and didn't give myself a routine/procedure to follow.


      My next task is to complete ROUTE before moving onto TSHOOT.  The plan is to complete ROUTE by mid year but I am prepared to take a little longer and be flexible with my goals as no doubt the concepts will take a little longer to grasp as they not directly related to my day to day tasks.


      Good luck to you all.