Month: May 2017

CCNA and Network+ Study Plan

I’m now building a page of networking study plans. My intent isn’t to teach here on the site, but to show what books, video series, sites, and labs that either I’m using for my own studies or that people I trust recommend. If you think I’m missing any great resources for Net+ or CCNA studies, please comment your recommendation.

Parallel to the study plans I’m also building a YouTube series called Network Speed Guides. These videos will address the topics of Net+ and CCNA R&S in the most condensed way possible. I’m aiming for a 5-10 minute video per topic designed to run through the terms, values, algorithms, etc. that have a bad tendency of falling out of your head.

These are both lengthy undertakings, so I’m giving myself 6 months to complete both. I appreciate you patience and look forward to your feedback!

CCNA R&S is Impossible 

Well, it has been for me.

I failed Cisco’s ICND2. Actually, I’ve now failed it for the fourth time, sort of: twice on version 2 and now twice on version 3. I am going to retake it. Each failure is demoralizing, but I’ll take it again anyways.

I have to admit I’m getting pretty sick of having my teeth kicked in by Cisco. While there’s a little bit of pity party sprinkled throughout this post, I’m also legitimately quite irritated with the test writers.

I feel like my last failure (my first attempt at ICND2v3) was an honest loss. The revision was only a couple months old. I could tell Cisco hadn’t yet made the questions terribly complex or obscure. I hear Cisco adds fluff to the questions to keep cheaters from memorize them for test banks, kind of like salting passwords in a database. I could see the fluff in the old test, but the revision was concise and well thought out. The questions we’re tough, but felt fair. That time I left the test center feeling like I failed a test because I didn’t know the material to the level they were asking of me. That’s the point of the exam, right?

That is not the case at all this time. I feel like Cisco sold me a lemon. The questions were once again obscure and cerebral. Worse, five or six of the questions literally left me wondering what they were even asking. Not like “Ah, they are trying to see if I understand the difference between STP State and Role! Cisco, that old fox,” but instead “Is this grammatically correct, or do I need to go back to 2nd grade?”

Making matters worse, Frame relay is back. Not all of it, just light theory and topology stuff, but I don’t know frame relay. I learned it for the previous version of the test, but I poured that right out my head after the revision. Frame relay has been a war-story of bygone days longer than my IT career, but I guess I better read that frame relay section in the appendix of the cert library.

IPv6 is much heavier this time. Now, that doesn’t bother me. I love IPv6. It feels so much more intuitive and I even lab more in v6 than v4. While I know the v6 threw me some gimme questions, only a minority of my real world networking has been v6. I don’t need to use math to subnet because I’ve worked with IPv4 almost every day for the last 4 years; I have the masks, CIDRs, wildcards, and binary in my head. I love IPv6, but I don’t have that level of confidence with v6 yet.

What really upsets me most is that I feel more than ready. I’ve read the Lammle and Odom big books cover to cover. I read a chapter from “31 Days Until Your Routing & Switching Exam” every night, then I reread it the next day on lunch. I’ve watched the entire CBT Nuggets twice, the O’Reilly series once, all of the condensed and full ITProTV videos, and even the LiveLessons in my Safari Books Online. I’ve done the Cisco, Transcender, and Boson practice tests, including rocking a Boson I’ve never seen before with a 993/850 two weeks ago; so close to perfect. Oh yeah, I also do this every day at work. Somehow I still scored a 766/811. I don’t know what’s left to do.

So, I’m going to take it again in June. I’m going to keep hammering my labs, building my Quizlet (which you may use), and taking the practice tests that I’m now memorizing the answers to. I just got back from Barnes and Noble with the hardback cert library for the revision (I already have v3 in electronic and v2 hardback). I’m going to read every single word in that book again, maybe a little faster this time, and compare it to my notes. I’m also going to write every command I come across and make sure I use it in my lab 5 times for each command, switch, and variable.

I’m so sick of taking this test. My employee evaluation, the way my coworkers see me, even my self-assessment of me as a young network engineer and aspiring infrastructure architect take a hit each time I see that sub-par score on the Pearson screen.

That’s why I’m taking it again. I’m better than an exam. I’m going to beat Cisco.