CCNA @ Firebrand Training

Work decided recently that as part of our 6 monthly performance review that some training was in order (Thanks Mark). My training track was decided as re-certify my CCNA as it had run out (only lasts 3 years) and to pass the new Cisco CCNA wireless exam.

I had been on an earlier book camp type course to do the Certified Ethical Hacker course & choose to do the course with The Training Camp @ Heythrope House. I Was most impressed with the course delivery & the thought of having to do the examination at the end of the course. With this in mind I choose to do the CCNA with Firebrand training who used to be training camp UK. I was booked in for the 3rd August course & to be honest only read through the pre-reading assignments a couple of times, so was un prepared for how much the subject matter had changed on the actual course.

Arrived at the Wyboston lakes training complex on the Sunday evening for a 6pm orientation meeting which ended up being two hours in the classroom discussing the flow of the week ahead.
Homework was set for that evening & equated to a couple of hours pre-reading. Also we where informed that we would be doing two exams one on the Wednesday afternoon (CCENT) and a further exam on the Saturday afternoon, which would hopefully see us walk away with the CCNA certification.

Training went well right through to the Wednesday evening exam, our trainer Mike Brown was excellent as well as funny with it & also most apt at maintaining the momentum so as to get through the course in the allotted time. I went in for the exam and was feeling reasonable comfortable as the CCENT was like the old version of the CCNA exam (actually was).

This is where the real difficulty began for me, there was an awful lot of new exam material that needed to be covered in a very short space of time. Once again the instructor was excellent and covered everything in sufficient depth but I realised that not everything was going in. I'd get back to my room at about 8.15 pm and easily have to do another four or five hours study just to try and make things stick. Which was pretty exhausting & required numerous trips to Tesco for Crates of Red Bull & fags! In fact my wash basin in the hotel room was full of cold water & red bull for most of the week!

My main conclusion from all of this is as follows:

  1. Don't be lazy or cocky before you attend a boot camp, do the pre-reading, in fact buy the exam cram book & read it cover to cover before you go.
  2. Learn to do subnetting & wild card masking any way you can! either learn write out the subnet tables or better still learn to subnet in your head.
  3. Firebrand are an excellent training provider but they are not miracle workers, so much effort is required you would not believe. Put some effort in before you go!
OK so back to the exam, Saturday came & I have to be honest afternoon exams don't do it for me and never have, I much prefer to do the work, get a good nights sleep before hand and then do the exam at 9 to 10am. So most of the day was a review session & then at around 2 pm we where given a few hours to study or revise as we saw fit. I have to say Mike was excellent in what he covered in the review sessions.

Went in for the exam at around 3pm and had a reasonable time in the exam, was convinced I was doing well and had plenty of time, I had the normal multiple choice questions & simlets, which where no problem as I had been on the Cisco learning network demo exams so knew what to expect. Got to question 39 out of 40 with 3 minutes left & blow me it was the simulator question. So I though Mike said if you get stuck for time do what you have time for & then leave it only if you have to. I got about half way through the simulator (final question) when the clock ticked down to 5 seconds left, so I had no choice but to end the exam and see if it was good enough?????

In less than a minute I had my answer! NOT GOOD ENOUGH, bugger failed it be what must have been one question. scored 815 pass mark was 825.

Time to go home and see Dawn and Danica, but first downstairs to see if Paul and Andy had passed? Saw Mike and thanked him for all his hard work, which despite failing the final exam was more than pleased with everything about firebrand training except one key thing, where where the Freddo bars? There are just somethings that should never be changed!

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