This week we’ve looked at the CCNP R&S certification from a few different angles. Cisco expert Jeremy Cioara wrote about the opportunities the CCNP R&S might open for you, and some interview tips on how to get there. He’s also conducting a webinar on building technology labs in general, and we created an equipment list for your future home lab.
Now, we’d like to share a few tips specific to the CCNP R&S exams. We understand that the exam series is a serious undertaking — mentally, emotionally, and psychologically.
Here are five tips to help you on your way to passing CCNP R&S.
Put your best foot forward
Which CCNP R&S exam should you take first? Most people start with CCNP R&S ROUTE. The typical progression is ROUTE, SWITCH, and finally TSHOOT, but the first two can be taken in any order. It’s generally recommended that you take the exam you are most confident you’ll pass with the most ease. If you’re in the industry already, and your day-to-day work is switch-heavy, then you might switch the first two exams, taking SWITCH first. Passing the first one (whichever you choose) gets you to the second, and boosts your confidence. And confidence is important when you’re walking into an exam.
Start with a plan
Whatever order you plan to take the exams, you’ll want to start with a plan.
Step 1. Plan out the order. Done.
Now that you know which test you’re taking, attack your training with a plan. Set training goals based on the exam objectives, and the amount of time you have until your exam date. Give yourself enough time to train properly.
Cisco provides exam objectives for all three exams:
We very purposefully plan our video course curriculum based on these vendor exam objectives. Use these as your study guide to plan ahead.
If you’re just not a great planner, maybe you should get in touch with a CBT Nuggets accountability coach. Our coaches help you establish goals and set a schedule.
When planning, don’t forget about the practical portion of the exam.
Get lots of hands-on experience.
You’ll see a good mix of theoretical and practical in the CCNP R&S exams, so you should get as much hands-on experience as possible. Cisco recommends that you should already have one to three years of experience with Cisco products to sit for the exam, which means you might have done the tasks before. On the exams, however, you’re timed and tested. That makes a big difference psychologically.
Hands-on experience not only provides a healthy validation of the theoretical information. It also helps you overcome the psychological element.
Hands-on experience is such a big part of the exams that Keith Barker dedicates three 2-hour “Hands-on Labs Exam Prep” courses to helping ensure you’re well prepared for the simulation portions of the exams:
Use these hands-on labs in conjunction with CBT Nuggets training, and take your work home with you — to your home lab.
Build a Home Lab.
If you didn’t build a home lab for CCNA, then you might want to make the investment for CCNP. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to build an effective lab at home. Based on the equipment recommendations from Jeremy, you can spend as little as a few hundred dollars.
The best part about having a home lab? You now have a laboratory. If you’re going for a CCNP, then you’re not just studying for the exam. You’re probably genuinely and deeply interested in solving increasingly more complex problems.
According to Jeremy’s post about Career Tips for the CCNP R&S [LINK]:
“The individual immersed in technology is a lifelong learner. This is not a ‘comfortable’ career as some desire. If you were to park your knowledge for a few years, you might find yourself being replaced by someone younger, faster, more adept.”
Build a home lab to study and then keep using it.
Use your special blend of additional resources
We strive to provide the best IT training online or offline. We also understand that you might need additional study materials to feel totally confident on test day, and there’s plenty of stuff out there. So, combine our videos with in-depth study guides, practice exams, blogs, and flashcards.
Be sure to use the TranscenderⓇ Practice Exams. Every CBT Nuggets subscription now features unlimited access to these exams.
You’ve already passed CCENT and CCNA, so you know your learning style. Stick with the resources and methods that serve you best.
Bonus Tip: Relax
Yes. That seems both counterintuitive and common advice. Keep your nerves in check on your test days. Take a break from studying the night before. You’ve crammed everything into that brain of yours that it can hold. One more night won’t make a difference. Get a good night’s sleep. Eat a good breakfast.
And then go out and conquer the CCNP R&S exams — one at a time.
Get started today by reviewing the CBT Nuggets playlist for the CCNP R&S.