Anthony’s IT Certification Tips – 2 of 10 – Know Your Exam

Welcome to the second of ten tips (in no particular order) that I am featuring on Certification success. In this tip, I need to remind you to become an expert in the particular exam you are seeking to conquer. Be sure you gather every ounce of information that you can regarding the exam prior to scheduling it and even preparing for it.

Cisco does a better job than many vendors at making information available. Let me provide a quick example. Let’s you and I pretend that I am going to try the DCUFI 5.0 exam from Cisco. This is one of the exams that maps to the CCNP Data Center Certification – and it can also be used for a Cisco Specialist Certification. The first thing I will do is locate the “home page” for the exam at I do this using the Training and Events menu at There is a Certification section and you will find DCUFI tucked neatly into its CCNP Data Center category. Here is the exam home page structure:

Screenshot 2014-02-26 13.35.47

Notice how much information we have just here. We now have the official exam number 642-997, we know the specific Certifications this exam can help fulfill, we know it is a 90 minute exam and will be 65-75 questions, we have a link for registration, and very importantly, we can review and practice with the types of questions we will actually face in the exam. This is critical because it is a timed exam and you do not want to waste any of that time in the actual test trying to determine how a question type works. While all of us might feel comfortable with simple multiple choice, simulations and simlets in the exam might warrant practice.

Notice that you can also click Exam Topics in order to get a specific lists of the topics you must master. For this exam, here is partial output of this area:

Screenshot 2014-02-26 13.40.45Here we see Cisco makes it clear that 14% of our exam will focus around describing the Unified Fabric products in a Cisco Data Center Architecture. Cisco goes on to list what those specific products are. Note that for each bullet, we are to “describe”. This is not configure and/or verify, but it is just to describe. It is important to read very closely like this with the exam “blueprint” so you have an idea of what technologies you will actually be expected to configure.

In the next tip of this series – I will teach you how to take this exam information you have obtained and turn it into a valuable tracker for your study progress. Until then, as always, thank you so much for reading and keep enjoying those studies immensely.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *