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BlueWolf's Howl

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March 21, 2009

What a test!

I'm not sure if the greater test was on the computer or in my life itself. The test was hard, but I have been reading and studying for this for over a year. Apparently I was adequately prepared since I passed. But it really has been a long road.

I woke up that morning with a cold. My head was stuffy and I proceeded to expectorate. Ewww. I felt like crap. I dragged myself into the shower and down to the testing center. The sign-in process was exactly like I expected. I knew there would be a picture involved. My pic was taken and I was seated.

When the preliminary survey and tutorial popped up, I was a bit hesitant. They use the same 'generic' tutorial for each test. However, seeing that tutorial on the testlets and simulations threw me for a bit. Everything I read said that this was just a question test. The lab more than adequately covered any kind of hands-on required for the cert, so simulations are a bit silly. But, true to everything you have heard, the written test has no simulations, no drag-and-drop, and no little testlets. Just questions. Hard questions, but choose 1 or choose all that apply kind of thing. I wasn't sure about it until the last question. What a relief. Granted, you could not go back to a question, but you didn't have to worry about the keyboard being funky or the mouse having to do anything but click.

In stark contrast to the test was the test environment. That was definitely not what I expected. There was some very loud construction during the test. New Horizons is a tenant rather than a building owner at that site and had no control over the construction schedule or activities. It sounded like they were working directly overhead. I distinctly heard the sound of a skillsaw and LOTS of hammering. It got so bad at one point, that I was sitting there with my fingers in my ears (both hands) just to be able to read the question. Needless to say, I was pretty aggravated by that. Enough so that I put a little more speed into it than I probably would have without the noise. Perhaps that was a blessing rather than a curse?

I mentioned it once I finished the test and returned to the front desk. The Proctor said that they have no control over it and the best they can do is issue a voucher for a retest if someone fails due to the noise. I'm sure that's no consolation to anyone who fails a test. What if it's the last eligible day to test and recert? Will they call Cisco and vouch for you and make that all better? And although it restores the monetary value you lost, they can never restore any self-confidence you might have lost in such a situation. Of course, the people creating the noise could care less. Unlike IT - which has to perform changes that interrupt other people on 'off-hours' - they need to have the convenience of working during normal working hours. Perhaps it saved the building owner a few $...?

Okay, rant over. Luckily, I don't have to find out the answers to those rhetorical questions.

So now I have 18 months to make my first attempt at the lab. I think the greatest relief is that my CCNP and CCNA recertified when I passed that test. And what I'm finding out from anecdotal evidence is that many people stop right here. They take the written and never take the lab. I didn't realize that could even be an option. But, I guess for some people it might be... Granted, the lab is expensive. And most people have to take it more than once to pass. But, if you're going to put forth enough effort to pass the Written, why not go the whole 9?

Of course, I'm going to take a much needed break first. We are returning to Disney in a few weeks (which kind of makes me feel like passing the test was equivalent to winning the Superbowl - I get to go to Disney - yeah!). But I want to make sure that I don't get out of the habit of studying. So I set another goal for myself. I'm going to at least get the CCNA Security cert and possibly CCSP. It depends on how I can blend the study types and times.

I still haven't figured out yet how I'm going to break down the lab studying. I have some equipment. Dynamips is available - and which PC should I put that on? And there is always the possibility of rack time. With so many options available it's hard to choose the right one (or ones). I also remember quite a bit of FREE instruction on the Partner E-Learning Connection (luckily I work for a Cisco Gold Partner). I will have to revisit every option before deciding which is best. But right now - I have time. At least a month to figure this out. I'll let you know...

Posted by BlueWolf on March 21, 2009 08:16 PM