hmmmm.... I think that depends on the strengths and weaknesses of the test taker. For me, BCMSN and ONT were the easier ones BSCI and ISCW were the harder ones. Now, I do a little bit of everything in my job, which is why I went for the CCNP in the first place. But there were several areas in my studies that were way deeper than what I do on the job, so it was a good learning experience.
BSCI went into the depths of various routing protocols. I only use one in the job so there was a lot of new material for me to go after.
ISCW was the same. I knew some VPN basics and how to harden devices, but did not have the depth and knew nothing of MPLS.
BCMSN is the switching exam and I do that every day! ONT is the QoS/Voice/Wireless exam. That exam had lots of new material, but because I do wireless, my feel my experience helped me pass the ONT.
It really all depends on where your stregths are. If you have no experience, then they will all be hard.
I found the BSCI to be the most difficult as at that time, my day job was mostly switching and wireless, not so much routing. Thankfully when I took ISCW and ONT I had exposure to almost everything but MPLS at that point so they were not so difficult.
I found that the BSCI was the hardest as well. I consider that exam mainly tailored to the service providers, so a lot of the routing stuff was way over my head. Most of the stuff I consider myself to never see again. I thought it was interesting, but it was definitely the hardest.
Be careful - I used most of what was on the BSCI on a daily basis in a previous position working on a large private network. Lots of BGP, OSPF, redistribution, route filtering, et cetera. I didn't think I'd use all that knowledge so quickly, but I did! I actually went beyond just the CCNP level on certain technologies simply due to the scope of their deployments.
The cool thing about the BSCI was that there were some things that I could apply to my job, even though it does seem to be a service provider type test. Learning some advanced features of eigrp and summarizing routes was great for me. Learning about BGP was also very helpful. So when I call my ISP for work, when they talk about BGP I at least now have a basic understanding of what they are tallking about.
The suprise for me was learning about multicasting and how helpful that was for my job. After learning about some multicasting basics, I ran with that and improved the performance of a 40 building campus!
The hardest is that which you have the least experience/knowledge of!
Everyone will likely have (and has had) a different answer.
You may want to edit this post. There is a lot here that might violate the NDA. Seems to be pretty specific to the exam questions and I would not want to see you have any issue with the powers-that-be.
Any exam where you don't have remember why the leds are blinking With proper study plan & execution every exam can be fun and possible. I am not saying they are going to easy or hard. If you read & enjoy the exam books just like you do with any good novel you are there:) As I my dad used to say if you start any work with thinking "**** this is going to hard" Then it's hard as you already lost your "own" support.
I expected to see some interesting responses. I agree that the exam that is hardest is the one that you don't study for as well as you should. There are always some inherent difficulties with certain subjects often times just due to the magnitude of the subject itself. It seemed to me from looking at the exam topics, that the BSCI had the potential to be somewhat harder than the others since it appears to cover a wider area of subjects.
htman47, (one of my favorite games)
I had to laugh when I read this since I have not read anything other than Cisco books in so long. I have to admit I am addicted to reading them. I read them for fun, at lunch, in the car, on my breaks, before I go to sleep, when I wake up. My wife says its a sickness, could be worse.
Like the old saying goes, "If you think you can't, you're right". Thanks for all the input, guys. I am currently working on the BSCI anyway and I can't stop reading now until I see how it ends. LOL
Another point is that BSCI covers a lot of information - and several very diverse protocols that within their inner workings can sometimes contradict how others work. Lots of details, lots of nuances, lots of lots, lol. BGP and OSPF and RIP are three protocols that work entirely differently, and carry seperate nuances and caveats and their uses even differ to large extents.
BCMSN seemed to cover many technologies that all flowed together, at least to me. They all behaved similarly in my eyes - most of the features are complimentary.
But, I haven't taken the latest revisions of those tests - I passed mine in 2005 and 2006 respectively.
I think the main difference in the BSCI that you took and the latest BSCI was multicasting and IPv6. I was in the middle of studying for BSCI when the new one came out and the CCNP changed to what it is today. I actually used the older BSCI books to study for the new BSCI exam. Other than IPv6 & multicasting, the old book was pretty sufficient with regards to IPv4 routing protocols. But it has been 2 yrs ago since I took it myself so there may be more differences that I don't remember either.
Even with the fact that I failed the BSCI my first attempt, it was a test I enjoyed studying for and enjoyed passing even more!
I thought BSCI wasn't that bad, except for IPv6 and multicast part. There's a good amount of overlap with CCNA, and now that I'm almost done with ISCW studies, I fail to find anything common between ISCW and CCNA and think it's harder than BSCI. Maybe the exam will make me think otherwise if I'm overprepared for it. Hopefully these two were the hardest as everyone says, so I can get my certification sooner.