Tags: ccna, CCNA Simulator, Kaplan IT CCNA simulator
At Transcender, we sometimes get customer emails with a subject line that resembles the title of this blog post. These emails come from longtime customers who want to know what happened to the simulation items that “used to be” in our CCNA practice tests. Those items haven’t appeared in our products for some time, and we’ve blogged about this topic before, but since we’ve just released updates to our CCNA products, I thought this was the perfect time to revisit the topic.
First, you need to know that there are simulation items in Cisco’s CCNA exam(s). Let me say that again a little louder:
There are simulation items in the Cisco CCNA exams!
You will definitely have to know how to use the command line to get configuration information from a device and configure devices. But before I discuss the kinds of simulation items we include in our Transcender practice test, let’s define what is and is NOT a simulation item, and discuss how they show up on the live exam. Here’s a complete rundown of the item types you are told you may see in the CCNA exams (as per the CCNA web site): Continue Reading Hey! Who moved my CCNA simulations?…
Tags: certification, Cisco, Sybex
Hot off the presses!
Sybex, the computer reference imprint of Wiley and Sons Publishing, has just released a new Cisco reference written by Troy McMillan, our primary Cisco practice test developer here at Transcender.
Although this guide could certainly be used by someone working toward their CCENT, CCNA, or even their Network+ certification, Cisco Networking Essentials is not your typical “exam cram” book. In 400 pages, Troy presents a thorough overview of networking concepts in general, and their implementation with Cisco hardware in particular. It’s designed to prepare the reader for certification-level classes and books. The target audience is career changers, self-study students, and students who need more in-depth explanations than are provided by boot camps and exam-cram courses.
Because boot camps and short courses must present a huge amount of material in a short period of time, students may not have time to absorb fundamental concepts in depth. This book fills in those gaps and is an invaluable reference for people currently working the field or trying to change over into networking.
Tags: (ISC)2, CCNA Security, CISSP, facebook, fbi, hacking, linux+, lulzsec, Security+, server+
Recently, Citibank announced that hackers stole personal information from about 200,000 credit card customers. Over the past year, a number of high profile companies have been attacked, including Sony being hacked for the sixth time. As cyberattacks are reportedly on the rise, the FBI, Commerce Department, and Attorney General are calling for increased cyber-security actions in the U.S.
This frenetic response may seem overwhelming to some outside observers, but to security experts in the IT industry who have decried “lax security policies at high-profile organizations,” this situation comes as no surprise. The sheer frustration that many in the security community have felt for years seems to be finding its outlet at last.
Case in point: LulzSec – the now-infamous hacker group responsible for breaching Sony, Nintendo, PBS, Fox, and the FBI. They targeted Fox because they didn’t like them, PBS because of a FRONTLINE story, the FBI because of their attitude on hacking, and Nintendo and Sony just for fun. When a small security firm out of Nebraska posted a hacking contest for $10,000, LulzSec altered the home page and added this text:
DONE, THAT WAS EASY. KEEP YOUR MONEY WE DO IT FOR THE LULZ
Tags: ccna, CCNA Simulator, cloud computing
Our friends at Gambit Communications have released a cloud version of the MIMIC Virtual Lab. That means that you can now take advantage of the Kaplan IT CCNA Simulator – previously offered as a download product – at any time, from anywhere!
While our original CCNA Simulator product was successful in helping many of you prepare for the CCNA certification exam(s), the difficulties and limitations of the installation process and hardware requirements did not go unnoticed. So we’ve once again partnered with Gambit Communications to bring you an online CCNA lab. As before, our version of this product is unique in that it is paired with our own exam-focused set of scnenarios to provide the best real-world practice for preparing to take a CCNA exam.
The new CCNA Lab in Cloud product addresses all the previous Simulator product’s limitations regarding operating systems, single-machine install, license & activation issues – you know, like those times when you re-build your machine and weren’t allowed to re-install the Simulator. Unfortunately, these were issues beyond our control that were inherent in the original Gambit product offering, but with the new CCNA Lab in Cloud offering, all of these issues have been addressed and solved!
Tags: what we're working on
I’ve been taught that honesty is the best policy, so allow me to be honest with you here. I honestly enjoy sharing news on what we’re doing and planning to do every month. I honestly enjoy receiving and replying to your questions & comments. But, in all honesty, there is no way I’ll have the opportunity to coherently describe the projects we’ll be working on over the next three months, knowing all that’s involved in closing out 2010. I hate to admit it, but since we’re being honest and all…
To that end, I’ve decided to lay it all out for you here & now, as this may be the last good block of time (and sanity) I have before I lose all touch with reality as we make our race to the 2010 finish line.
Let’s start with the easy stuff. Here’s what hit the shelves in August:
- Cert-602-902, Implementing Cisco IP Routing (ROUTE)
- Cert-LX0-101, Linux+ 2010 Exam 1
- Cert-LX0-102, Linux+ 2010 Exam 2
Now for NEW news. Several people have asked,
“What happened to those SharePoint 2010 products George was working on in August?”
Great question! George was well on his way to meeting, if not beating, his deadlines for the 70-667 practice test product when we heard about R2 updates to the Server 2008 exams. Review and revisions of the 70-640, 70-642 & 70-643 have now taken priority, forcing us to postpone the release of SharePoint products. George’s primary focus for the next few weeks is comparing our current Windows Server 2008 products against the most updated Skills lists and ensuring that our practice test product continues to offer the information you need to pass your exams! The 70-640 updates should release in the next 2 weeks, but as this and the others hit the shelves, we’ll be sure to notify you via Twitter and on our Web site.
The second most popular question since our August post is,
“Where are those new Visual Studio products Josh is working on?”
Another great question! Josh delivered his last bit of content for the 70-511 practice test product to our Editor, and that project should be in the production phase by next week, meaning we should release by early October. Meanwhile, Josh is a few questions into the 70-515. Either he has found this subject matter easier or he’s just exhausted, but he hasn’t been mumbling to himself half as much since he started this project. In any case, the 70-515 practice test should release in early November.
I should also mention that we’re just days away from releasing the Cisco CCNP 642-813, SWITCH practice test. I’m really excited about both the ROUTE and SWITCH practice products. Troy’s goal was to make the CCNP line as solid as the CCNA products and so far it looks like he’s spot on. Troy & team have since moved on to focus the development efforts on the TSHOOT product. If you’re familiar with the exam or even seen the Cisco training, you’ll understand the monumental undertaking this is. We’ll keep you guys updated on the progress for this one and when we have a better handle on a release date, we’ll be sure to share that with you.
Last, but certainly not least, we appreciate you sticking with us as the weather turns from toasty to frosty. So while you make plans to buckle up this season and finally take that certification exam you’ve put off all year, we’d like to save you a few bucks. Check out our 2-Day Transcender sale!
Tags: ccnp, Cisco
As most of you know already, Cisco has retired the exams in the old CCNP track and released three new exams that comprise the new CCNP. As covered in an earlier post here and elsewhere, the new exams are called ROUTE, SWITCH and TSHOOT. Today I would like to discuss the ROUTE exam; specifically, I would like to discuss a topic that has generated many questions among test candidates.
A quick examination of the exam objectives (found here) will reveal that almost every objective has the following structure:
- Create an (insert main objective topic) implementation plan.
- Create an (insert the main objective topic) verification plan.
So the question that I keep hearing about the exam is, “What kinds of information will be tested in this sub-objective, and how will it come at me”? In today’s post, I would like to try to fill in the blanks for you.
First, Cisco design practices call for creating an implementation plan and a verification plan for all types of implementations. Exam questions about implementation and verification will probably take one of two approaches: a conceptual approach, and a command-specific approach.
The steps that are included can seem somewhat subjective. You should drink the Cisco Kool-Aid and study the “Cisco steps.” The best references I can offer for that are the following links to information about PPDIOO and best practices:
PPDIOO stands for Prepare, Plan, Design, Implement, Operate, and Optimize. If you are familiar with the CCDP, this will not be a foreign concept to you. It is a design framework that Cisco uses and is the best source for getting a handle on these conceptual questions. When reviewing this document, pay close attention to and learn the bulleted lists such as the following from the section on Implementation steps (taken from the article verbatim)
Each phase consists of several steps, and each step should contain, but be not limited to, the following documentation:
- Description of the step
- Reference to design documents
- Detailed implementation guidelines
- Detailed roll-back guidelines in case of failure
- Estimated time needed for implementation
An example item of this type might be:
Which of the following is NOT a step to include in an implementation plan?
- Description of the step
- Reference to design documents
- Detailed implementation guidelines
- Cost of the step
So obviously (although it won’t be so obvious on the real exam) the answer is Cost of the step.
A higher-level resource is here:
Step-specific implementation questions
Obviously, these types of questions will ask about the commands or actions that should be performed at a given step in the implementation or verification plans. Here is a sample question from our new Cert 642-902 exam showing this type of implementation question.
A new portion of your OSPF network is in the design phase. You have been presented with a network diagram, a list of implementation steps, and a requirement that transmissions across all routers must be authenticated. The complete implementation plan is as follows:
- Enable OSPF process 1 on all routers.
- Enable area 0 on routers R2 and R3.
- Enable area 1 on routers R1 and R2.
- Enable area 10 on routers R4 and R5.
- Verify that all routers contain a complete routing table.
- Verify that you can ping from one end of the network to the other.
- Enable OSPF authentication on all routers.
Which of the following statements is TRUE about this plan?
A. It is complete as written.
B. Router R5 should have area 1 enabled.
C. Router R4 should have area 0 enabled.
D. Router R2 should not have area 0 enabled.
Above you see that the question is less conceptual and has more of its focus on OSPF. Steps are given in the item scenario, and you decide whether the steps are complete or if a vital step is missing. Don’t be afraid to answer that the given implementation steps are complete if, in fact, they are. It’s not a trick!
The same document located at the link I gave you covers verification steps as well as implementation steps. The same approach works for those types of questions.
- Learn the Cisco verification steps conceptually.
- Know how to verify a specific implementation.
Good luck on the exam, and see you next time!
Our own Cisco content developer, Troy McMillan, is slowly but steadily building a portfolio of IT textbooks on his spare time. Yes, we do believe that while the rest of us get 24 hrs to our days, Troy somehow has 50+ hrs a day to do all he does!
His latest co-authored book, VCP VMware Certified Professional on vSphere 4 Review Guide (Exam VCP-410) (Sybex, 2010), has hit the virtual pre-order shelves at Amazon and should be shipping soon. The review guide was co-authored with Brian Perry, Chris Huss, and Jeantet Fields, who have been providing VMWare training since 2004.
Troy’s first book, Change Your Career: Computer Network Security as Your New Profession (Kaplan Publishing), was released in 2007, and is still available as a Kindle edition. Troy also contributed content to Todd Lammle’s CCNA Wireless Study Guide: IUWNE Exam 640-721.
Tags: ccnp, tshoot
Topic 1 in our TSHOOT series: Get a Game Plan!
As was reported earlier, both here and in many other places on the Internet (though I don’t know why you would ever look anywhere else on the Internet, because everything you need to know is here on our blog, by the way), the new Cisco TSHOOT exam is not the same test from years past. Yes, there will be a token number of multiple-choice questions to answer, but the bulk of the exam will be presented to you as “trouble tickets”. This post is the first in a series where I will cover some of the topics that you may see on this exam, and — the important part — how you need to approach these topics in your study plan.
On the exam, you will be presented with a set of diagrams representing the network for which the problem tickets are based. Just like in the real world, your job is to find where the problem lies within this thicket of devices, and then to decide how to fix it. As we explained in our previous post on TSHOOT, you will have to answer three questions on each ticket:
- Which device is causing the problem?
- What is the nature of the problem?
- What command would fix the problem?
In every scenario, there is a user at one end of the network trying to communicate with a device at the other end. That means that the problem could be located at 5 or 6 different links along the way. Some of the devices are routers, some are switches, and some are Layer 3 switches.
(If you’re not getting a good picture of what I mean, then this would be a good time to go and look at Cisco’s online demo for the TSHOOT,
, and then return to this post.)
Before you even start working the first ticket, you should adopt a plan of attack. Don’t take a scattershot approach. Be organized. Let’s look at the tried and true approaches to this type of troubleshooting. You have two issues to consider as you work:
1. Where is the problem (on which device)?
2. At what layer of the OSI model is the problem located?
Where is the problem?
Let’s start with the possible approaches for the first issue.
Tactic 1: Start at the source
With this approach, you would start with the user device and attempt to ping the IP address of the next device on the path to the destination device. If that works, then ping from the second device to the third, and so on. At some point in the process, a ping will fail, and now you know which connection has a problem. So make sure you know how to determine the IP address of an interface and how to ping an interface.
Tactic 2: Start at the destination
With this approach, you ping from the source device to the destination. Of course, it will fail (otherwise there would not be a trouble ticket, right?). Then you work back toward the source, pinging next from the source to the next closest device in the path. When your ping is successful, the problem will then be identified as residing on the last connection that failed before the one that worked.
Tactic 3: Start in the middle
Are you a gambler? Then you would understand that the odds of finding the problem the quickest are best with this approach. Here, you ping to the middle of the path, and if that works, continue to ping toward the destination. If pinging to the middle of the path doesn’t work, start to ping back toward the source. Mathematically speaking (please do not ask me to explain it, ask George, he went to Georgia Tech with the rest of the smart kids), this will find the problem the quickest.
Realize that when a device is connected to a Layer 2 switch there is no need to ping the IP address of the switch. It does not come into play in the switching or routing process. If it’s a Layer 3 switch, then that’s different, but even then you will be concerned with the router part of the Layer 3 switch and not the switch side. So that means you should ping from the device to the next router interface in the path, and skip the switch.
What type of problem is it?
Now that you have determined where the problem is, you must determine the type of problem it is. There are three approaches to this.
Tactic 1: Top down
This approach starts by troubleshooting application issues (Layer 7), and then working down the OSI model to the transport and network layers, and from there to the physical layer (Layer 1). I would not recommend this approach since the problem is connectivity, which is most likely to be a lower layer. Application issues usually result in performance issues, not connectivity issues.
Tactic 2: Bottom up
With this approach, you start with the physical layer (cabling), then proceed to Layer 2, which would encompass VLAN issues and DLCIs. If the problem is not discovered, you would move to Layer 3 to investigate routing protocol issues, DHCP problems, and NAT. This is a better approach than top down for this scenario, and one I recommend.
Tactic 3: Divide and Conquer
This approach plays the odds and starts in the middle of the OSI model, at the network layer, and then proceeds up or down based on the results of your investigation. For example, if you see no routing protocol issues, NAT issues, or DHCP issues, then move down to Layer 2.
Whatever approach you adopt, you should stick with it for the duration of the ticket. Be methodical and keep working until you find the problem. You have plenty of time to finish if you know your commands, although you should do some quick math from time to time and ensure you don’t spend too much time on one ticket. If there are 16 tickets and you spent 20 minutes on the multiple-choice questions (let’s say there are about 10), then you have 115 minutes left for 16 tickets. That’s 7 minutes per ticket. Keep that in mind and if you find yourself crunched for time, don’t skip any answers, but make a guess and move on.
I’ll go into more depth on specific issues, such as issues with BGP, DHCP, IPV6, EIGRP, and HSRP in my next post.
Tags: exam expirations, second shot
June 30, 2010 is the last day you can take advantage of Microsoft’s Second Shot voucher program. Remember, you must actually TAKE your retake exam by this date (if you failed the initial exam), not just register for the retake by this date.
That means if you haven’t made your initial exam attempt yet, you may want to schedule that sooner rather than later, so in the very unlikely event that you don’t pass (we wish you nothing but success on your FIRST attempt), you’ll have enough time to schedule a retake before your voucher expires. Microsoft requires a 24-hour waiting period between your first failed exam attempt and its retake. Be sure to examine Microsoft’s exam retake policy to see if different restrictions apply to your particular track:
If you’ve already failed an exam and intend to use your Second Shot voucher for a retake, get it scheduled as soon as possible!
On the exam expiration front, Cisco is retiring several CCNP, CCDP, and Express Foundation track exams by July 31, 2010. That means you have just about six weeks to sit for any of the following:
- 642-901 BSCI, Building Scalable Cisco Internetworks
- 642-812 BCMSN, Building Cisco Multilayer Switched Networks
- 642-825 ISCW, Implementing Secure Converged WANs
- 642-845 ONT, Optimizing Converged Cisco Networks
- 642-892 COMP, Composite BSCI and BCMSN
- 642-373 CXFS, Express Foundation for System Engineers v1.2
- 642-383 CXFF, Express Foundation for Field Engineers v1.2
- 646-363 CXFA, Express Foundation for Account Managers v1.2
You can find complete information on Cisco’s Certification Exams page.
Tags: ccnp, Performance-Based Testing
Troy McMillan, our CCNA / CCNP trainer-in-residence, and Robin Abernathy, our Network+ / Server+ / ITIL / PMI / CCNA SME (sometimes I think my desk will collapse from the combined weight of acronyms), both had a lot to say about the 642-832 TSHOOT exam beta. The live exam is scheduled to release April 30, 2010.
The first comment was that they saw radically different exam formats. Robin, who tested in a different city than Troy, took the traditional multiple-choice test, with case studies and some simulations thrown in – in other words, an updated 642-level exam of the kind we’ve seen for the past several years. Troy, on the other hand, experienced the new “trouble ticket” exam format. It’s been widely reported in the blogsphere by now, but Troy went into it cold.
This exam was entirely virtualized, and consisted of 16 interactive simulated networks with fully operational virtual routers, switches, and hubs. Each “trouble ticket” scenario had a set of three multiple-choice questions that had to be answered before moving on to the next ticket.
The questions for each ticket had a consistent format:
- What device is the problem?
- What is the nature of the problem?
- What command(s) will solve the problem?
The kicker is, the option you select in the first question for the ticket affects the answer options you’ll see presented for the second and third questions. In other words, this exam is adaptive to the nth degree.
So, for example, if you said Router 5 was the problem in the first of the three questions, the options presented in the second question would be router problems. However, if you said that Switch 2 was the problem in the first ticket, the options presented in the second question would be switch problems. Furthermore, if in the second question you said the problem was a routing protocol, the options presented in the third question would be commands to solve a routing protocol issue. But if you said the nature of the problem was IP addressing, the third question would present commands for solving an IP address issue. So if you pick the wrong option in #1 or #2, there is no way that you can correctly answer #3 – you’ll have to start from the beginning of the sequence.
This is both exciting and challenging. Cisco may have come up with a braindump-proof CCNP exam. At the same time, candidates are going to need new techniques to tackle this exam, because time spent figuring out how it works is time wasted in the exam room. Troy reports he spent so much time looking at configurations and figuring out how the darn thing worked that he didn’t even finish all the tickets. And he was three questions in before he realized that while the topology stays the same for every question, the configuration may change on the individual devices for each ticket scenario. So it’s important to note that configurations do not carry over. The router that was causing the issue in Ticket 4 may have a completely different (and correct) configuration in Ticket 6.
Network World blogger Wendell Odom scooped the exam format in his post on 2/1/10. As he points out, we haven’t seen the exam release yet, so we can’t speak for sure on the format. We can confidently predict that the released version of the exam will contain the virtual trouble ticket item type. However, we can’t predict if the format will roll out in every region, or even to every testing center within a region, as Robin’s experience shows.
In Wendell’s latest post on the TSHOOT beta format, he went on to specify the pitfalls he encountered with the trouble ticket concept, and throws out several excellent ideas for troubleshooting in the test environment. To those ideas, we’ll add a few more:
- Thoroughly memorize all ping, show, and trace commands. Not every Cisco IOS command is supported on the test simulator. (We’re not sure if you can get a master list of supported commands beforehand.)
- Know your methodologies backwards and forwards. This is a test that has to be grasped at the concept level, not by memorization.
- Practice, practice, practice.
- Download and thoroughly review the TSHOOT study materials provided by Cisco:
- TSHOOT Exam Instructions (PDF)
- TSHOOT Exam Topology (PDF)
- TSHOOT Exam Tutorial
- TSHOOT Exam Online Demo
(Robin and Troy didn’t have any of these resources going into the beta – but they sure would have helped!)
We’ll keep you posted on the live version release and any helpful study material as it becomes available. Until then, happy CCNP’ing!
–Troy and Robin