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    How To Prepare For CCNP TSHOOT


      In continuation to my earlier post about How To Prepare for CCNP ROUTE (link: https://learningnetwork.cisco.com/thread/61741), here is the equivalent for CCNP TSHOOT.  I passed the exam last week and would like to share my experience, providing some tips and general insight for candidates planning on taking the exam.



      Learning Material/Sources


      1.  CCNP TSHOOT 642-832 Official Certification Guide by Kevin Wallace

      This book was my main learning material to brush up on the theory part for the exam.



      2. CCNP Routing and Switching Quick Reference

      A fantastic piece of work to help me refresh my memory and activate my knowledge of routing and switching in greater detail.  Because of its small size, the book is also easy to carry around everywhere.  The best part is that the book contains all the essential theory, without including any unnecessary wording.




      Before the Exam


      1. Get familiar with the TSHOOT exam topology!

      I cannot stress this enough.  Practice until you are comfortable with exam topology.  I had the exam topology practically memorized when I went into exam.  I spent hours on Packet Tracer recreating the topology and coming up with configurations and troubleshooting scenarios.


      2. Practice with the TSHOOT exam DEMO.

      Fiddle with the exam DEMO and get a feel of the exam.


      Both the exam topology and DEMO practice from this link:https://learningnetwork.cisco.com/docs/DOC-6738


      TSHOOT Strategy


      1. Bull's eye strategy by Kevin Wallace.

      I highly recommend you watch this three part troubleshooting series available on YouTube.  There are some great tips included that even saved my game on a couple of the trouble tickets in the exam.


      Part I: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Bo4Pw82G2M

      Part II: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIRxfxeTSLI

      Part III: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BocjkJ1l71k


      2. Divide and Conquer.

      You will learn about different troubleshooting strategies in the OCG.  My personal favorite is the Divide and Conquer one.  The other two are called Top-Down and Bottom-Up but they are just too time-consuming in my opinion.  The Top-Down method starts at Layer 7 working towards the lower layers to find the problem.  The Bottom-Up strategy does the opposite.  The Divide and Conquer strategy makes an educated guess about the location of the problem and starts the troubleshooting process at Layer 3.  It is much more convenient to start with ping/traceroute to track the problem than to begin by checking the interface statuses on the end devices.



      My TSHOOT Approach


      Here is a more detailed View of my approach to solving the trouble tickets.  Using an example from the exam DEMO (open from the link above), Client 1 cannot ping (WEB Server).


      My strategy in the exam was clear:


      1. Check that the client has IP addressing information with ipconfig.

      The client acquires its IP addressing information from a DHCP server which is configured on one of the routers.  If the client does not receive the information, there is a problem between the client and the router/DHCP server.  The problem can be anything between a shutdown interface, wrong VLAN assignment, incorrect default-gateway etc.  The key is to systematically rule out options.  At least it is clear that the problem is contained in the specified section.


      2. Do ping/traceroute to locate the device where the ping fails.

      Either issue the ping/trace from the client or one of the networking devices.  I like to use the switches and routers because the source interface can be specified.


      3. Rule out options to find the problem.

      At this point the process is partly guessing.  I would start by looking at the IP routing table to make sure that each device knows how to reach the intended destination.  Then check neighborships, route-maps, access-lists etc.


      Bonus:  Before you start the exam, take time to quickly draw out the topology on a piece of paper.  I found it helpful to have easy access to the topology at all times rather than moving the windows around in the small monitor.



      Final Words


      If you did your ROUTE and SWITCH exams properly, the TSHOOT exam should be rather easy for you.  Personally, I really liked the structure of the exam.  I feel that the trouble tickets could reflect real-life scenarios, so they accurately test your troubleshooting skills.


      I suggest that you take the TSHOOT exam as soon as you can after passing ROUTE and SWITCH, while the theory from the other two exams is still fresh in your memory.



      There you have it.  Hopefully you guys find this helpful.  Using these steps, I passed the exam with a score of 945/1000, and finally earned my CCNP Routing and Switching certification.



      UPDATE: It has come to my attention that I forgot to add the TSHOOT Learning Labs (that I was awared when I received my Community Spotlight Award) to my learning sources list.  I used the lab time for like 5-10 hours in total but because I had limited time to prepare for the TSHOOT exam I decided to shift focus to the actual exam topology and become comfortable with it.  However, the Learning Labs had some great tips and troubleshooting scenarios to help prepare for the TSHOOT exam.

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