Passed ISCW but not happy with the Questions

Unanswered Question
Feb 8th, 2008


I passed the ISCW exam with 946.

I completed the training course in late December and then used the study material from this course, along with the official Cisco Cert Guide to study. I studied very hard for this exam.

However, some of the questions on the exam were not covered in any of the topics in the OFFICIAL Cisco book, nor in the OFFICIAL Cisco training course.

I consider myself a little lucky in that for those questions that I guessed, I managed to guess correctly. Some poor unfortunate soul may not be so lucky.

How can a certified training course, and the actual book released by Cisco contain absolutely no study material for these types of questions ?

Should the exam questions not be reviewed and pass Q/A before being released ?

Although I am happy I passed, I am just venting a little steam over this issue which to me seems quite rediculous. The exam should not ask questions on material that isn't covered in the training.

I wish I could be a little more specific in explaining those questions that I considered out of scope, however I am sure I would be in breach of NDA.

Has anyone else experienced this with the ISCW ?

Should I simply blame myself for putting my faith in the official Cisco press book and not investigating other non Cisco study material ?

Rant over - one exam left, QoS (which I hear is a little nasty).

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srue Fri, 02/08/2008 - 08:52

What cert are you going for the requires ISCW and QoS?

The QoS Exam Cert Guide from Odom is pretty good. You shouldn't have any complaints about that book meeting your needs.

AndySajous_2 Fri, 02/08/2008 - 12:32

My understanding is they do ask beta questions to see how applicants answer the questions. Considering your high score it could be very possible that those were beta questions that didn't penalize your score.

brianjpisa Sun, 02/10/2008 - 14:44

cbeswick, did you use anything besides a training course and the cisco press exam cert guide to pass this test. I've been looking for study material for this. I read the exam cert guide and the quick reference sheets and they are not very good. They seem to leave a lot out. Do you have any suggestions for passing this test? Did you find it easier than the BSCI and BCMSN tests even though there is not much training material? Thanks in advanced.

davehartburn Mon, 02/11/2008 - 01:44

I found similar with the BCMSN, and noticed the review of the official ISCW Cisco guide on says there are a few topics missing.

With my BCMSN, I prepared with as much material as I could, sat the exam and made a note of all topics I struggled on, as the exam went along. Just before I handed the notepad back, I quickly memorised my notes and wrote them out again once I had left the building. I had failed the exam, but spent the next three weeks reading up on the topics I had not come accross. I then sat it again and passed.

While this works, it is a very expensive and dis-heartening way to go about it.

Do Cisco produce a definitive list of all subject covered, and not just the brief overview on the course pages. Something like a list of commands or detailed subject titles?

ccnp_seeker Mon, 02/11/2008 - 07:07

You have the Exam Blueprints for each exam.

You must understand deeply each topic on the blueprint for a good exam preparation....


davehartburn Mon, 02/11/2008 - 08:39

Any idea where you can get hold of the blueprints from? I've done a search for ISCW Blueprint on and google, but have not found anything useful.

The link below for the subjects is very vague. For example, the router redundancy has around three lines, where I found some specific topics that were not covered in the official book but did appear in the exam.

ccnp_seeker Mon, 02/11/2008 - 09:44

Well this was the blueprints that I have mentioned before... :)

I think that a detailed list per topics is very difficult to find...

It happens to me in the BCMSN...a lot of topics in Wireless clients that where not mentioned in the books....usually is recommended to read some of the topics in guides..etc...where you will find all the information about a topic....

At the end this is the idea of being certified...that you hold deep understanding of the topics...not just those listed in the books...

nameonthenet Wed, 02/13/2008 - 07:03

I wrote a review of the BCMSN book on Amazon after failing my BCMSN due partly (but just as likely hubris) to the official Cisco book missing things. Funnily enough I was scanning through the ONT book and quite a few of the questions that came up in the BCMSN exam which weren't covered are in the ONT book. The ones I remember were, what is the maximum ideal voice latency, QoS trust boundaries, voice traffic characteristics, etc. I almost thought there was a BCMSN/ONT composite exam!!!

scott.hammond Thu, 02/14/2008 - 09:29

im on my 4th attempt at BCMSN!

I have read every cisco press book on it and none of them come close to covering the material on the test.

I know they want you to understand the material but they need to throw us a bone.

im taking it AGAIN tomorrow in fact, so if anyone has any last minute reference material of choice tell me where I can find it.


brianjpisa Thu, 02/14/2008 - 17:33

Someone posted links to wireless configs in one of the threads here. If I remember correctly it is under a BCMSN topic.

brianjpisa Tue, 02/12/2008 - 05:19

I never heard of "blueprints" for exams. I think he may be referring to this as the blueprint.

This is all the topics that can be covered by the exam. Finding training material that covers these topics in depth is the problem. I found student guides for the ISCW exam. Hopefully a combination of those, exam cert guide, reference sheets, practice tests, and anything I could find on will give me more than enough to pass this test.

cbeswick Wed, 02/13/2008 - 02:54

Hi All,

I used the Cisco Press ISCW official Exam Cert guide, and the official course books from the Global Knowledge ISCW training course.

I had about 3 - 4 questions on MPLS that were NOT covered on the course or in the study material. However, this is little by way of comparison to those questions that I got asked in the BCMSN exam. There must have been about 10 questions at least on Wireless that were not in the study guides.

I find this a little unsettling and find myself questioning the Quality Assurance of both the training offered by the likes of Global Knowledge and Cisco's own "official" study and cert guides.

pciaccio Wed, 02/13/2008 - 03:53

I also just passeed the ISCW exam for my CCNP Recert. It was a very difficult exam. I knew the subject matter very well. Every sample exam and question I read to study for the exam I got correct. The main thing I found difficult was the time constraint on the exam. You have 90mins to take 75 questions. You may think that is fine but when you have in depth simulations and drill down configurations for complex senarios the minutes tick away. The test had about 4 to 5 of those type questions. Also these simulations have 4 to 5 questions buried within them. Does that mean that each simulation is 1 question or 4 to 5 questions? However I passed but found it very difficult to time manage it. The first time I took the exam I lost 19 questions due to time running out. Needless to say I failed that time around... If you are to take this exam I suggest you do lightning rounds with it and try to power answer your questions to make the time window they give you...

brianjpisa Wed, 02/13/2008 - 07:35

Cisco probably weights the simlet questions or counts the 1 question as 4-5 questions.

I found when taking a cisco test, I try to go as fast as possible, but without going to fast that would cause me not read the questions or answers incorrectly. I've always finished with at least 10 minutes to spare. I heard this test (ISCW) is supposed to be the easiest one. I'm more worried about this test than I was about the other ones just because there is barely any training material - and the material that is out there stinks. I guess I just have to prepare as best I could and take it. If I fail it, then I'm out $'s not the end of the world I guess.


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