ICND2 update

22 09 2011

Completed the ICND2 on Friday, as scheduled. I didn’t pass the exam, getting an 804, with the pass mark 825.

Slightly gutting, but a good experience, with some positive outcomes and learnings.

Firstly, time, or lack of it. In almost every forum or blog post about this exam, the lack of time is mentioned, and with really good reason. This cannot be emphasised enough.

My particular exam had 44 questions, with 75 minutes to complete it. However, some of the questions were testlets, in the same style as the Microsoft 70-646 that I completed recently.. these had 4 sub questions each, so there were technically more like 50 questions.

There were a few simulator questions, which I’m positive I smashed, along with a lot of the first half of the exam.

This is where the problem became apparent – I simply took too long to answer (including being very thorough with checking) the questions. On question 23, I had only about 30 minutes or so remaining. Throw in a few of the non standard multiple choice questions (drag and drop, testlets etc), and that time soon diminished, culminating in a complex VLSM question near the end, which I ended up half guessing – I did calculate the masks correctly based on the number of hosts needed, and answered accordingly, but didn’t check for overlapping networks etc – simply too little time.

I wanted to answer all of the questions, so I hurried the above, and got through the last few in a really short time.

Secondly, was to know the entire syllabus really well. I did work hard on this, but tended to neglect access lists and NAT somewhat, and this showed through with a really poor score in this section.

My strongest area was switching, which is also the area I enjoy most, and which I have exposure to at work. I was pleased when one of the SIMs was switching related, but I still took too long on the answer, double and triple checking my config – this comes back to point 1 – time. So to combine the two points: “Know the material, and be confident enough in your knowledge to move on from each question once you’ve answered”.

I have no exposure to dynamic routing protocols in my environment, or frame relay – my point to point link has an RJ45 hand-off which is plugged directly in to a layer 3 switch.

I identified Frame Relay as the weakest area around a week before the exam (which I had taken off work), so focused relatively heavily on that, and ended up answering quite confidently.

I also did quite well on the routing protocol elements – there was a lot of theory, rather than configuration, thank goodness, and theory was something that I learnt a fair bit of from my various learning sources – same as usual, CBTNuggets, TrainSignal CBT, and the official Cisco ICND2 Certification Guide.

Needless to say, I’ve booked a retake. My study between now and then will consist of heavy revision of calculating network ranges, subnetting etc, combined with as much time as possible working with my small Cisco home network (a 2811 router, a couple of 2600’s, a 2500, a 2950 switch and a 2900XL switch). I’ve ordered a new DCE-DTE cable (lost the previous one during a house move), so once I’ve got that I’ll be able to practise configuring point to point links and routing protocols to a higher level than I was able to without it.

I’m sure there was a third point, but can’t remember it šŸ˜‰ I’ll update the post if I do.

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