An Unfortunate Opportunity

I have been given the chance to compare the retired CCNA 200-120 test with the new CCNA 200-125. Did Steve score a sweet deal with Cisco? Nope. Then, you must be retaking the test with the purpose of writing a compare and contrast post. Wrong again. Actually, I don’t have a choice…at least if I want my CCNA.

I failed ICND2. Actually I failed it twice and chose not to write about it until a month later. I needed some time to let the bitter fade.

So why was I bitter? That test was hard. Really hard. I’m an excellent test taker and I enjoy the challenge of a good test, but both attempts were utterly draining. I know Cisco is hard charging to foil the test question banks, but this is getting ridiculous. I noticed when taking CCENT that a lot of questions left me with staring at the screen with a “huh?” in my brain, but I made it through nonetheless. My CCNA attempts were ten times worse.  On my first attempt, I almost ran out of time and scored a 740. I wasted a ton of time just trying to wrap my head around questions. The second time around, I made up for lost time by piling a month of studying on topics where I knew I had trouble, but I still only hit 784. 40 points short. I’m still a tad bitter, both at myself for not studying better and at Cisco. I’m not perfect by any means, but I can ace any practice test on the first attempt; that’s actually the bar I use to determine when to take an exam. Further, I’ve been working in networking for a minute, so I’m comfortable with most topics and I’ve supplemented the technologies I’m short on experience with labs.

So why didn’t I pass? I simply couldn’t figure out the best answer. There was not a single gimme question on the exam. Fortunately, it wasn’t multiple answer heavy, but I was left doubting almost ever choice I made. It was like every question had three good answers and I could have chosen one with just a little more information. Instead, I went with my gut reaction on nearly half of the test.

I could have done better, period. The test was passable and I blame myself for not knowing the material well enough. I do not, however, think I could have had enough preparation and experience to have done well.

But I am still hopeful. I’m hoping the revision of the CCNA exam will have taken a bit of esoteric head-scratching out of the test. I plan to take the revised exam in about six months, but first I want to knock out the CWTS. I need a change of study material for a minute.

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