Let’s address the first issue first, do you intend to sit the relevant exam after completing your Cisco course? Why wouldn’t you? You have given up your time to attend a course, your company has paid for it, and you have been paid wages while on it. I always find it a little disheartening when delegates tell me they have no intention of taking the exam. In today’s economic climate and all the uncertainty that goes with it, your CV is more important than it has ever been. The world has changed. You will not get a job based on experience alone. If you don’t have the qualifications on your CV, you will not even get the interview, sad, but true.
So, are Cisco certification exams difficult? Yes they are. But that’s a good thing; otherwise they wouldn’t be worth having. I always say, ‘how well you do in an exam is largely just a reflection of how much preparation you have put in’. If you prepare and know your stuff, then an exam can almost be described as a pleasurable experience. It’s only a bad experience when you have inadequately prepared.
Here are some useful pointers on how to go about preparing for you exam:
1. Leave a gap between finishing the course and sitting the exam. I usually find 2 weeks is about right. The Cisco courses are intense and we cover a lot of material. You need time to go over your notes, revisit the topics and practice your lab exercises.
2. Book your exam date. Get a date in the diary, this gives you a deadline to work towards. Why not book your exam before you finish the course? You need to go to www.pearsonvue.com
3. Visit Cisco website: www.cisco.com/go/certifcation where you will find a detailed breakdown of all the subject areas in your exam. You can then study these topics and tick them off as you go.
4. We recommend you consider using the resources at www.boson.com. This is a Cisco sponsored site where you can purchase practise questions. Practise questions are an essential part of your preparation. With Boson, you can run it in learning mode which gives you a detailed explanation of the answers given. You can also purchase simulations for lab practise. Beware of sites that offer actual exam questions, this material is illegal and Cisco regularly change the exam questions which can leave you badly prepared. Also, passing your exam by cheating will not help you on the first day of your new job.
5. Stick to the course ware for revision. If it is not mentioned in those books it will not be in the exam. Don’t waste time revising related material that’s not going to be in the exam.
6. Don’t skip any topics thinking they are unlikely to be covered in the exam. If it was covered on the course, it can be in the exam.
7. If there are any topics you really don’t understand, discuss these with other people, colleagues that can help. Use the internet, there are plenty of chat forums where you can post questions.
Last thing, they take your photo before the exam and then print it out on your certificate. So, make an effort with your appearance. You will then be able to put your certificate on the wall and show it to your friends and family when they visit. How cool?