Cisco Certification - Five Things To Do DURING Your CCNA Exam
There are plenty of articles out there about how to prepare for the CCNA exam.
However, there are also things you can do to increase your chances of success on
exam day during the most important part of the entire process - the time that
you're actually taking the test.
I've taken many a certification exam over the years, and helped many others prep
for theirs. Here are the five things you must do on exam day to maximize your efforts.
1. Show up on time. Yeah, I know everyone says that. The testing center wants
you there 30 minutes early. So why do so many candidates show up late, or in a
rush? If you have a morning exam appointment, take the traffic into account. If
it's a part of town you don't normally drive in during rush hour, you might be
surprised at how much traffic you have to go through. Plan ahead.
2. Use paper, not the pad. Some testing centers have gotten into the habit of
handing exam candidates a board that allegedly wipes clean, along with a marker
that may or not be fine-pointed. You do NOT want to be writing out charts for
binary math questions, or coming up with quick network diagrams, with a dull
magic marker. It's also my experience that these boards do not wipe clean well
at all, but they smear quite badly.
Ask the testing center employee to give you paper and a pen instead. I haven't
had one refuse me yet. Remember, you're the customer. It's your $100 - $300,
depending on the exam.
3. Use the headphones. Most candidates in the room with you understand that they
should be quiet. Sadly, not all of them do. Smacking gum, mumbling to themselves
(loud enough for you to hear, though), and other little noises can really get on
your nerves in what is already a pressure situation. In one particular testing
center I use, the door to the testing room has one setting: "Slam".
Luckily, that center also has a headset hanging at every testing station. Call
ahead to see if yours does. Some centers have them but don't leave them at the
testing stations. Wearing headphones during the exam is a great way to increase
your powers of concentration. They allow you to block out all noise and
annoyances, and do what you came to do - pass the exam.
4. Prepare for the "WHAT?" question. No matter how well-prepared you are,
there's going to be one question on any Cisco exam that just stuns you. It might
be off-topic, in your opinion; it may be a question that would take 20 of your
remaining 25 questions to answer; it might be a question that you don't even
know how to begin answering. I have talked with CCNA candidates who got to such
a question and were obviously so thrown off that they didn't do well on any of
the remaining questions, either.
There is only one thing to do in this situation: shrug it off. Compare yourself
to a major-league pitcher. If he gives up a home run, he can't dwell on it; he's
got to face another batter. Cornerbacks in football face the same problem; if
they give up a long TD pass, they can't spend the next 20 minutes thinking about
it. They have to shrug it off and be ready for the next play.
Don't worry about getting a perfect score on the exam. Your concern is passing.
If you get a question that seems ridiculous, unsolvable, or out of place, forget
about it. It's done. Move on to the next question and nail it.
5. Finish with a flourish. Ten questions from the end of your exam, take a 15-
to-30 second break. You can't walk around the testing room, but you can stand
and stretch. By this point in the exam, candidates tend to be a little mentally
tired. Maybe you're still thinking about the "WHAT?" question. Don't worry about
the questions you've already answered - they're done. Take a deep breath,
remember why you're there - to pass this exam - and sit back down and nail the
last ten questions to the wall.
Before you know it, your passing score appears on the screen!
Chris Bryant, CCIE #12933, is the owner of The Bryant Advantage, home of free
The Ultimate CCNA Study Package, and Ultimate CCNP
Study Packages. For a FREE copy of his latest e-books, "How To Pass The CCNA"
and "How To Pass The CCNP", visit the website and download your free copies. You
can also get FREE CCNA and CCNP exam questions every day! Pass the
with The Bryant Advantage!