SWITCH has been vanquished.

vinbuckvinbuck Member Posts: 785
Passed SWITCH this morning with a 901/1000. Wow that was a tough exam! With SWITCH, the devil is in the details. I'm one of those people who studies right up until the moment I leave for the exam and this exam was no exception. I did one more round of labs on the areas I felt the weakest in and then shut my laptop and headed out to Pearson/VUE. We have several test centers here in Jackson, MS since it's the Capitol, but I had to go to the little town of Decatur, MS to take my exam because my local centers were all full up.

To give you an idea of what a quiet little Southern town it is, i'll share the directions to the test center....
From Highway 15 in Decatur, MS - turn west onto Broad Street at the (only) red light in Decatur and continue through the downtown area.

Got to the community college where the test center is and steeled myself for an onslaught. Right away, I got hit with some questions that were on the list of things I didn't spend a bunch of time on, so I had to bite the bullet and guess on a few but finally started getting to some familiar material and settled down a bit.

I hit a huge road bump on one of my sims when I put in a command and realized that I had made a mistake and tried to take it out only to find that I couldn't. I started to get bit nervous because it seemed like it would make the question wrong if I left it in, but I finished the sim and had to bite the bullet and click the next button with the wrong command in there. Other than my time rapidly evaporating because I wasted time trying to back out a command, I only had one other major issue again on a sim when I wasn't able to make a very routine command have the desired effect - one that I am well familiar with on real gear. As I was completing that sim, I again had to leave what I felt was an incorrect config due to what was probably a glitch on the sim.

Needless to say, my morale was flagging a bit after two major issues on sims and the clock was all but gone with about 10 questions left to go. But I took a breath, centered myself a bit and pushed on. I was able to compete the exam with 3 minutes left on the clock and expected to see a fail when I clicked next, but instead saw a really high score. Whew......mission accomplished.

Here are my thoughts for those of you who are still studying for this exam.

1. Cisco SLM Lab Manual - if you don't already have it, then get it and get to know it by heart - it's free (for now). This will adequately prepare you for the CLI end of things

2. Configure and Verify - this should be the theme of the CCNP cert. When Cisco says they expect you to be able to configure and verify on exams, they mean it! This one should really not be a big surprise, it's all throughout the material and is a common theme in Cisco tech docs.

3. Preparation and Planning - I highly recommend the FLG and Boson EX-SIM MAX to get a handle on these. Best advice I can give is put anything that says Verification Plan or Implementation plan in the FLG on a flash card and commit it to memory. That's what I did and it paid off nicely.

4. Pay attention to detail while taking the exam, I could have avoided my first mistake if I had really read the question more in depth and done it right the first time. I was lucky. Be sure to get a good understanding of they want you to do and more importantly where they want you to do it. Could have saved myself 15 minutes of heartache on the exam if I had slowed down just enough to read the question properly.

5. Time Management - this is key, know when to cut your losses on a question and save your time for the big fish like a sim question. This has a real world application, if you are troubleshooting a non essential system for hours while a critical production system is in need of your attention, then you've lost your situational awareness which is kind of what Cisco is trying to test in a roundabout fashion.

6. Understand how all the technologies on the blueprint work together. They are often presented in an isolated format for learning, but at some point, they are all gonna get thrown together and it's up to you to understand what does and doesn't work together and more importantly why - both for the exam and the real world.

7. Lab, Lab, Lab - This exam is dependent on you getting your hands dirty in the lab. The more you do, the more comfortable you will be. I labbed the Cisco SWTICH SLM about three times all the way through and repeated specific sections of it to focus on my weak areas.

Hopefully this will help y'all that are still studying for SWITCH and doesn't violate NDA in any way (I think I stayed in bounds :) )

It's been a good day. I found out my wife is pregnant with our second little one a couple of days ago and now a big win on SWITCH and almost CCNP. Gonna take a weekend break and then lab up the TSHOOT topology next week while i'm traveling. Whew.....
Cisco was my first networking love, but my "other" router is a Mikrotik...


  • wavewave Member Posts: 342
    Congratulations on the pass and the new baby to come!!!

    Thanks for the thorough debrief and advice.

    ROUTE Passed 1 May 2012
    SWITCH Passed 25 September 2012
    TSHOOT Passed 23 October 2012
    Taking CCNA Security in April 2013 then studying for the CISSP
  • Nate--IRL--Nate--IRL-- Member Posts: 103 ■■□□□□□□□□
    That is a fantastic post, and I vote for sticky.

  • MrBrianMrBrian Member Posts: 520
    Congrats man!! Only tshoot stands in your way.. unfortunately, it's that exam that usually knocks prospective CCNP'ers off their track.. it's such a beast, lol.

    Seriously though, great accomplishment! Knocking out ROUTE and SWITCH is huge
    Currently reading: Internet Routing Architectures by Halabi
  • RoguetadhgRoguetadhg CompTIA A+, Network+. Member Posts: 2,489 ■■■■■■■■□□

    when will you exile TSHOOT?
    In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.
    TE Threads: How to study for the CCENT/CCNA, Introduction to Cisco Exams

  • CiscoCertsCiscoCerts Member Posts: 112
    Fantastic!! & Congratulations on the baby! I really appreciate your in depth review, I'm currently working on my route and have saved your comments to help me when I'm ready for SWITCH.
  • PuffyPuffy Member Posts: 54 ■■□□□□□□□□
    Congrats. Thanks for those tips, will refer to them when I am prepping for the SWITCH exam.
  • vinbuckvinbuck Member Posts: 785
    MrBrian wrote: »
    Congrats man!! Only tshoot stands in your way.. unfortunately, it's that exam that usually knocks prospective CCNP'ers off their track.. it's such a beast, lol.

    Seriously though, great accomplishment! Knocking out ROUTE and SWITCH is huge

    That's weird, I have always heard that TSHOOT is the easiest of the three. I'm probably going to take it here in a few weeks while all this stuff is still fresh. I've got to be out ouf town all next week for work, so I'll be labbing that topology up and getting familiar with it. icon_smile.gif
    Cisco was my first networking love, but my "other" router is a Mikrotik...
  • MrBrianMrBrian Member Posts: 520
    vinbuck wrote: »
    That's weird, I have always heard that TSHOOT is the easiest of the three.

    LOL.. sorry for the confusion vinbuck, I was going for sarcasm with my post.. it was obvious to me as I typed it, but yea, lost in translation as they say..

    Tshoot's dinky once you've solidified route and switch icon_wink.gif (coming from someone who hasn't taken it, but come on, we all know it)
    Currently reading: Internet Routing Architectures by Halabi
  • EildorEildor Member Posts: 444
    Congratulations! :)

    Yes, I also ran into a bug with the simulation... I figured out how to get around it, though... but it left me pretty damn stressed out! haha.
  • martell1000martell1000 Member Posts: 389
    congrats vinbuck!

    and nice report! i took a look at decatur in google maps just to get a picture of it. even found the community college ;)
    And then, I started a blog ...
  • JeanMJeanM Member Posts: 1,117
    Congrats on both counts!
    2015 goals - ccna voice / vmware vcp.
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