I passed my CCNP ROUTE this morning. I was not sure I was ready at any time during my study so I just went for it. I will mention how I did it in case it helps anyone else but the time I took to sit the exam is not really the way to do it. I took about one year to do it but that was due to my workload and moving countries and cities so often.
I bought a few things so I could get different views/questions from different authors. All of these are cheap enough to buy bar one.
Cisco Press CCNP ROUTE by Wendell Odom.
Top quality books as always, Wendell is spot on with content and quality. I have passed CCENT, CCNA and now CCNP ROUTE with his books with success; I will always use his books now.
CCNP ROUTE Portable Command Guide
Brilliant for carrying around and it has many lab examples on all subjects and some good tips.
I used this for my CCNA and now my CCNP ROUTE. What I like about this is that you can move around quickly between protocols without starting up routers etc, even if you only have 2 minutes spare you can bang out a quick redistribution or hit your weak points.
CCNP study guide is cheap and has some good things in it; Chris has a very good way of explaining things. I normally use his material to fine tune what I know and get a different angle on things. When you think you know it all and then read another authors view on things you realise you don’t know it all.
Great little AP, perfect for studying when you have just a few minutes to spare.
As I travel around the world a lot I cannot carry equipment around with me. I was not sure I could even do the CCNP ROUTE without equipment but obviously you can. I did however have access to live networks but you can only look; not touch ? Remote labs are possible but most of the places i stay have limited internet access.
I deal a lot with static routes, subnets and troubleshooting in my job and although I am the manager with IP engineers underneath me I don’t do the configuring. One mistake can bring the network down and it happened once 9 months ago (not by me) so I leave my CCNP/CCIE experts to it. I am and will always be more of a technical manager/design engineer rather than someone who will end up doing all the hands on.
How I studied
I studied one chapter at a time with Wendell’s book then went on to do the labs for it before going to the next chapter. I found this the best way to do things otherwise after 20 chapters you forget what the 1st chapter was all about. I took one year to get ready for my exam but that is not normal. I have moved countries, cities and job positions and every time I do that it causes a delay to my studies. Life is not perfec and you have to do what you can when you can.
Once I finished the book and did labs for all chapters I had built up quite a few labs by then on GNS3, i spent some time on these and it was well worth it. I used to go back and change a few things to make it a different type of lab. OSPF > EIGRP, RIP, STUBs, route maps, access lists etc etc.
After I finished Wendell’s book I then went into Chris Bryant’s book but only looked at the parts that covered my weaker points, route maps and access-lists were my main weakness and it caught me out on the exam also. I got better at them but I was still making silly mistakes. Chris explains things very simply and his books are cheap enough.
After Chris’s book I then went through the Command Memorizer. This is a brilliant tool for improving your lab skills; I had no issues with labs on the exam so the proof is in the pudding. I used to be terrified of labs in the exam but this time I was fine, I did the labs as quick as I can type and I can type fast
Last of all I bought Bosons test exam and it is brilliant. It can take a while to get through those 157 questions/labs but that is because they explain why the correct answer is correct and why the in-correct answer is in-correct. You learn a lot from just one question on Boson, a brilliant tool which I will buy for all my future exams.
How long did it take to study for the CCNP
Took me one year but really it can be done in 4 months I think. As I mentioned earlier I moved countries, cities and job positions, I worked long hours 7 days a week so it is very difficult then to find the time to study.
How did I know I was ready for the CCNP exam
I didn’t, never had a clue.
The CCNP ROUTE is such a lot of information to take in and it is very hard to know if you are ready or not. Eventually I just booked it and if I failed then I would at least know my weak areas.
During the week before the exam
I spent my time on labs, my weak points and skipped the rest, you can't do everything in one week so just stick to your weak points and what gives you the most points in an exam I.E. labs.
I went to the centre early in case the traffic was bad, had a nice cup of coffee and went over a few things for 30 minutes before sitting the exam.
Labs, Labs, Labs, they are so important. Create a lab for every chapter you go through on the book, make sure you can do that lab fairly quickly and you will be fine.
I used the Boson exam to show me my weak points then I went over and over them time and time again.
I hope this helps a few of you.
Regards and best of luck