“The only stupid question is the one you do not ask!” I am not really sure who originally said this, but it sure is true. You do not just want to learn to the basic level – if you really want to succeed in the world of IT you have to dig deeper. Asking questions incessantly can be a big part of this process.
But wait! You are addicted to CBT Nuggets and I do not blame you for that, but the instructor is not there live in front of you…how will you get all of those questions answered? Did you realize we have added a Comments tab to each course in our offering??? This is a wonderful place to post a question about the course content. Chances are one of your peers will have an answer and respond. As one of the instructors at CBT Nuggets, I love to hang out there and answer questions. I also answer every single question here at the blog. Is Cisco your thing? Check out the Cisco Learning Network. Notice the top two responders there are Keith Barker and Scott Morris of CBT Nuggets.
Dig deeper, ask those questions. Perhaps we should change our motto to Watch, Learn, Ask, Conquer. OK – that does not sound nearly as good.
Thank you for reading. Remember to study with passion.
Remember from an earlier tip article that when you see words like “configure”, and “verify”, and “troubleshoot”, it is a really excellent indication that your certification features some good, old-fashioned, hands-on simulations.
Fortunately, especially at the earlier levels of Cisco certification, there are many affordable options to gain this valuable hands-on practice. Some students love to purchase used equipment and build their own home test network. These adventurous souls love the thrill they get out of “racking and stacking” the physical gear and then initially configuring the equipment. I know plenty of Microsoft students that also set up small pilot labs in which to actually experience the technologies.
But today there are other options for experiencing hands-on. There are simulations, like in the exams themselves, that look to duplicate the behavior of the actual operating system environment. One of these that I had the privilege of editing was done by Wendell Odom and is a simulator for the CCENT and CCNA levels.
There are also several emulators available. Emulators seek to run the actual OS in a virtualized environment right on your desktop. Some students absolutely swear by this approach since they know they are dealing with the actual operating system. I can recall the day when CBT Nuggets own Scott Morris finally made the jump to emulation for testing some off the functionality of Cisco routers.
Speaking of CBT nuggets we have also entered into this important area of certification practice by providing virtual labs on such critical subjects as big data, SQL Server, and SharePoint. Yes, you will see the list of virtual labs grow.
How much hands-on practice you need varies from candidate to candidate. Some students already possess a tremendous amount of hands-on practice, perhaps from their job or some other certification they have been studying for. These students need less hours in a particular subject area. Just remember to use your tracker and be honest with your assessment of yourself as you go through and master the material of your certification exam. Hands-on practice not only provides a deeper and richer understanding of the material, it can also mean the difference between a passing or failing mark.
Progress tracking with my endeavors is now so important to me, I really cannot imagine life without it. Whether I am trying to run a 15K, gain a certification, or win at online poker, tracking my progress is a necessity. I would suggest you consider this strongly as well.
Specifically, for your pursuit of a certification, I recommend that you start with the study blueprint. In fact, you can even copy and paste the blueprint contents into a program like MS Project or Excel. Now develop a tracking system that works for you as you seek to master each item on your list. I like to assign a number to each item that rates my knowledge. I use the following system:
1 – I have never even heard of the technology, I have no idea what it does.
2 – I have heard of the technology before and I can provide a brief overview of it.
3 – I can describe the technology in great detail and I understand its configuration and verification, but to perform these, I need the assistance of documentation.
4 – I can perform an implementation of the technology with ease and without documentation guidance.
5 – I can troubleshoot the technology effectively.
Notice that for some certification topics – level 3 might be all you need. These blueprint items tend to begin with the word “describe” and then a particular technology. For the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) exams, this is often the level of competence we need for the written exam.
No matter what tracking system you use (and some go as far as to track actual hours of study in Project Management software), doing so can greatly increase your effectiveness and reduce stress.
Until my next tip – study with passion!