Archive for March, 2012

Juniper Exams vs Cisco Exams

Juniper exams are interesting.  I’ve written before that they expect you to understand a lot of the underlying concepts before you take the exam.

The exams are entirely written.  They’re multiple choice, single answer and multiple choice, multiple answer.  This format works well, and even with this format they’re extremely difficult questions.  I, for one, am glad there are no labs or drag and drop questions.  Why?

I took a Cisco exam, the ICND1 or CCENT exam.  On this exam was a simulator.  In this simulator a question was asked inquiring about a connectivity issue.  Using the show interface <if-name> command revealed that the interface was up and up.  The problem is that this wasn’t an option in the answers.  And none of the other options were valid, either.  I was at an impasse.  Four options, none of them valid answers.  In desperation, I issued the show ip interface brief command.  I was shocked and amazed to discover that this command showed a different status for the interfaces than the show interface command.  I had my answer, but I almost missed a question because show interface and show ip interface brief showed two completely different statuses for an interface.  They should have had the same output, regardless of what Cisco was looking for.  This question was extremely unfair and very poorly designed and executed.

Because Juniper doesn’t use simulators, it doesn’t suffer from this problem.  Whether these potential bugs or “features” are the reasons for them not using simulators or not, I applaud them.  I cannot praise the simplicity of the Juniper Networks certification exams enough.  Without the complexities, there are fewer potential bugs or issues.  Yet their exams are still difficult enough to ensure their own validity and to validate the knowledge and skills of their candidates.

Juniper, please learn from this post and keep these points in mind.  I fully believe that simulators and the like can, will, and have prevented otherwise successful candidates from passing their exams.  I am even more displeased with Cisco after taking their exams.  And I’m more impressed by Juniper for avoiding the pitfalls that Cisco suffers from.