Passed ICND2

5 10 2011

Took the ICND2 again at the same test centre yesterday, and passed! Score was 860. As preparation, I carried out hours and hours of subnetting, binary conversion and VLSM practise, and was glad I did.

Knowing that time would be my greatest enemy, I had already decided that I would be confident in my answers and move on from each question as quickly as possible, rather than reviewing which I’d normally do. I got a similar VLSM question to one I got last time, quite early on in the test, which I was glad of, and then smashed through the questions as fast as possible.

The switch simulation was very near the end, which was great, because I had lots of time to spare by this point and as it was similar to the last one which I was pretty sure I got right, I was quite confident about the answer.

As NAT / access lists was my weakest area last time, I paid special attention to these in my studies, and was glad I did, achieving 100% on this section compared to 33% last time.

Finally finished with 10 minutes to spare. Had a hairy moment when I clicked “End Exam” in order to get my score without messing around with surveys etc, and the screen skipped straight to the login screen, bypassing the score page!

Practically ran out to reception, worried that I’d ended the process early and lost my score, but fortunately, my score sheet was already being printed. I jumped up and down screaming “yes!” when I saw the pass mark.

So, I strongly advise candidates for this one to know the material very well before taking, and to practise binary conversion, subnetting and VLSM til you’re blue in the face – it’s so important to be able to calculate these quickly during the exam.



22 09 2011

Both a 2950 switch, and a 2811 router (that one hurt!) in two days! Unbelievable.

Firstly, the switch – I used write erase, expecting this to effectively delete my startup configuration file, but it actually deleted the OS image file. D’oh! I am finding the 2900XL fine for my study needs so far, but will be buying a replacement 2950 on pay day.

The router wasn’t my fault – it went from being fine one day to having a non-working console port the next. Tried alternative rollover cable, a different router etc, and every other combination worked fine. Unfortunately, I hadn’t enabled Telnet / SSH access so although it was working (a show cdp neighbor showed it live and kicking), so it’s effectively bricked.

This was my only 2-ethernet port router and my DCE-DTE cable hadn’t arrived yet, so I ordered a Cisco 1605 from Ebay for £30. Looks OK, with two ethernet ports (not fast ethernet) and a Serial port – plenty of scope for messing around with routing protocols etc.

DCE-DTE cable arrived

22 09 2011

Can’t believe how excited I am about the arrival of my DCE-DTE cable for my home network – I do have a life, honest!

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 😉 I’ll update the post if I do.