Cisco Exams Are Bad – Again

Some of you may or may not know that I recently had the joys of experiencing another Cisco exam – the CCNP ROUTE exam. I have some pretty negative views on Cisco exams; see my post here for a comparison of Juniper to Cisco exams.

I don’t want to break the NDA that every agrees to when they take the exam, so I will attempt to speak in the most general terms possible.

If someone specifies that the most specific mask should be used when specifying the ‘network’ command under any given ‘router’ hierarchy (and I use ‘hierarchy loosely–see Juniper’s JUNOS for a true hierarchy!), then that mask should be ‘’. How can the mask be anything else? Please note I’m talking about wildcard masks and not subnet masks.

Second, if you are expected to use a simulated environment to answer questions or configure anything, then that simulated environment should actually work. If it doesn’t, then you’re intentionally setting a candidate up for failure–and for absolutely no good reason.

If a simulation does not allow something to happen, then I expect 100% that the average or below-average candidate would definitely fail that question. Only a highly experienced analyst or engineer would know for certain that they were right and that the simulation was wrong. My only concern is this: what if the simulation relies on the success of a given command–whether the failure of that command is the result of misconfiguration or a faulty simulation?

If anyone from Cisco is reading this, please take note. If your simulation software indicates that my verification method is to ping a given IP address and that does not work–even though I have verified the route through the network–this is probably not a good thing. My personal experience has allowed me to confidently continue, knowing I was right. But this could cause the average candidate to second guess his or her work. To be honest, it could even cause an experienced individual to fail if he or she is not a ‘good test taker.’

Perhaps Juniper will elect to progress to a test environment which includes simulations. I hope not, because their current ‘paper’-only methodology works and works well. I would like to think that they don’t use simulations because of the pitfalls of Cisco simulations. Regardless, I once again commend Juniper and look forward to the JNCIS-SP exam in October.

Yes, my BGP post is still coming, but this was quick and easy! 🙂

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