Study Tips

Unanswered Question
Jan 18th, 2008

Hi all, I see many posts where people suggest which books to read, however does anyone have any good study tips?

Im studying for the BCMSN exam and plan to take my test in March. I have the Ciscopress books, CCNP Video Mentor, Bryant Advantage etc etc. So all the info is there. My only problem is retaining info in my brain.

Does anyone have any good study tips on how to remember valuable or key information?

When I studied for the CCNA, I wrote everything down in note fasion, which seemed to have worked. Obviously I will be applying this method for the CCNP track too, however am open for any suggestions from those who have been there and done that.



I have this problem too.
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Collin Clark Fri, 01/18/2008 - 10:57

I use flash cards for things I can't seem to remember, archaic but it works for me.

ascoolasice Fri, 01/18/2008 - 15:10

Hello Sachin

I just completed and passed the BCMSN. I went over the cisco press book about 4-5 times, studying a chapter or two daily, along with lab times. I also took notes and highlighted key informations. I intend on doing the same for the BSCI exam. Take your time and don't rush through. If you know your CCNA materials well, you should be ok as the CCNP materials consist of indepth stuff covered in CCNA. Good luck

davehartburn Mon, 01/21/2008 - 05:54

I would suggest doing as many mock exams as you can. This can be expensive and I've yet to find a really good product.

I've just spent $70 on TestKing 642-812 (BCMSN), only to find half the questions, especially spanning tree, are based around the CatOS commands, which have not been part of BCMSN for some time. They claim to be 95% accurate, but this is clearly not the case. Many questions were repeated and the whole product looks like it expires after 90 days. I was told by TestKing to print out the questions before it expired!

I've also used PrepLogic in the past, which again was not up to date with the current course.

While it feels like these companies are conning you, the questions that are good are very useful to verify that you have the knowledge crammed in there. A TestKing and a PrepLogic exam pack together is probably still cheaper than failing a real one.

If I find there are a few key facts I keep forgetting, I write them on a crib sheet, which I preiodically read and re-copy out, to hammer those missing bits home.

Collin Clark Mon, 01/21/2008 - 10:51

The other thing I have done which I feel helped was when I was studying for the CCNA, I read the CCNA book, then studied the same information but at the CCNP level. The when I was studying for the CCNP exam I studied with CCIE level stuff. It took longer, but the exams seemed pretty easy to me since I was studying at a higher level.

Sachin.bhamra Mon, 01/21/2008 - 11:56

Thanks for the advise guys, I've read through the CiscoPress and Bryant Advantage books now so I feel I have an understanding of BCMSN. Plan to now read the CP book again but tackle each chapter at a day at a time, writing down notes as I go along.

I've subscribed to How2Pass and their tests are pretty good. Will do a practise test every morning to serve as a refresher.

Have a CCIE Routing and Switching book which I will give a read through when I'm better understanding the materials.

Is it true that when you are a CCNP you are more marketable?


Collin Clark Mon, 01/21/2008 - 12:04

Generally speaking the fewer the individuals having the cert makes the people who have them more marketable, assuming the skills are in need.

jesusponce Wed, 02/20/2008 - 20:50

I am very disappointed, I have already submitted 6 times the examn 642-901 bsci exam and i can not get pass, my score is above 750 but I fail to reach the minimum (790). I did The ccna in the second chance, I have already studied cbt nuggets, testking, pass4sure, ciscopress books, ccnp mentor video & trainsignal without get pass. I begin to think that is imposible pass the new version. I do not what to do. I do not know what is the secret to get pass.

Sachin.bhamra Thu, 02/21/2008 - 01:24

Although I have not yet taken the exam, I very much doubt there is any secret to passing this exam or any for that matter. You seem to have studied a great deal of material, but are you retaining any of it? Have you subscribed to online mock test platforms suchas ? From what I noticed when I passed my CCNA, the questions and layout were very simular.

Maybe you are having exam nerves where you are just mentally blocking out when you come to sit the actual exam.

I knew a guy who suffered from this. He is the brainiest guy I've ever known when it comes to IT, however with exams he was like a newbie where he'd forget almost everything. I believe he took the MCSE path and after several attempts, he sought a hypnotist. We all took the micky out of him for doing this, but 15 days after his one session he passed his exam with a high score and ever since then he's been passing exams on first attempt.

He said he was suffering from exam nerves that he wasn't aware off. He was having mental blocks, that the hypnotist just opened up.

Whether you want to believe in that or whether it was all in his mind is up to you, but hey, worth a try.

davehartburn Thu, 02/21/2008 - 07:06

My general study patten is, first get the official Cisco guide and skim read the PDF version while at work. When I do this, I generally miss out the questions and just give myself a brief overview of the course.

I then go through the chapters in more depth at home, doing all the questions, looking at exactly why I got things wrong, where I can building and testing any networks they use as examples. It can take a few days to really process a chapter. When doing this I try to make sure I know what all the debugging outputs mean. For example BCMSN, when you do a 'show spanning-tree', you are told what type the neighbour is. I use the Cisco website to make sure I know what all these types mean incase that comes up in an exam.

I then start on exam practice simulators and go over and over again until I get 90% almost all the time. The drawback with this is you can get to memorise questions, so does not truely reflect knowledge. I have found TestKing to contain questions very similar to the exam, which was very helpful. If I can I buy 3 or 4, plus the one that comes with the Cisco book.

If I feel I am weak on an area, I go back to review that chapter again.

If there are little facts I'm not likely to remember, that come up in the questions, then I make a crib sheet of odd facts to memorise. I try not to make this more than 5 sides. I then use the official flash cards and Quick Reference sheets.

When I'm feeling confident I book the exam and sometimes book a couple days off work before, just for intensive revision.

I've failed both the BSCI and BCMSN narrowly first time and passed with over 90% the next time, within 2 weeks. A note to the person who said they had sat it 6 times. When you are sitting in the exam with the sheet of scrap paper/wipe clean pad, rule of a little section at the bottom and any questions you just do not know the answer to, write down what it is about. Just before you hand it back to the examiner, read and memorise it. The second you leave the building (and I've literally sat on the steps before), write out the list of things you have struggled with. This becomes your golden revision guide for the next 2 weeks. It is against the rules to take anything out with you, this is the best way around this I can think of.

What I have found, is even the official Cisco course books do not cover everything or give every little detail you might be asked about. Once you find questions (hopefully in practice exams) you struggle with, search the web, especially the Cisco site, for information. Some of the Cisco guides are really good and give more details than the course books.


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