The scoop on the New TSHOOT Course and Exam

Kevin Wallace Fills in Some of the Details

(Today's post is about the new CCNP Troubleshooting exam. It's written by Cisco Press author Kevin Wallace, who wrote the new TSHOOT Official Cert Guide among his many other products. Kevin should be around to reply to your posts as well, and I'll keep an eye out as well. The rest of this post is from Kevin - I think you'll find it interesting!)

I first taught a Cisco troubleshooting course back in 2001. The course name was Cisco Internetwork Troubleshooting (CIT). What I found most striking about the CIT course was its size, specifically its small size. The course material was shorter than any other course I've ever seen. The reason was, the CIT course consisted of brief lectures with most of the class time being spent in the labs, troubleshooting various scenarios.

A few years later, Cisco pulled the troubleshooting course out of the CCNP lineup, stating that troubleshooting would become an integral component of all courses in the CCNP track, which consisted of the BSCI, BCMSN, ISCW, and ONT courses. However, with the latest incarnation of Cisco's CCNP certification track, troubleshooting is back and better than ever.

As you've probably heard, the new CCNP consists of the ROUTE, SWITCH, and TSHOOT courses and there corresponding exams. The TSHOOT course, as the name suggests, focuses on troubleshooting Cisco networks. Unlike its predecessor CIT, however, TSHOOT is a large course, including classroom lecture material in addition to Cisco-developed eLearning modules.

To give you a sense for the breadth of topics covered by the TSHOOT course, consider the following examples: network maintenance, the troubleshooting process, the troubleshooting toolbox, basic and advanced Cisco Catalyst Switch troubleshooting, strategies for troubleshooting routing protocols, troubleshooting OSPF, troubleshooting EIGRP, troubleshooting BGP, troubleshooting route redistribution, troubleshooting router and switch performance, troubleshooting Cisco IOS security, troubleshooting Cisco IOS services, troubleshooting IP communications, troubleshooting IPv6, troubleshooting advanced services, and approaches to troubleshoot large enterprise networks.

Be aware that some topics covered in the course do not currently appear on the exam blueprint from Cisco. For example, even though the course covers troubleshooting a Cisco IOS-based firewall, that topic is not currently on the exam blueprint. That could change. So, please check the latest exam blueprint when preparing for the exam.

And speaking of the exam, it's exam number 642-832. This 120 minute exam is definitely not your father's troubleshooting exam. It's designed to put your troubleshooting skills to the test and prevent candidates from passing based on the memorization of brain dumps. Only about ten percent of the exam is made up of traditional multiple choice questions that require you to recall a single fact. A whopping 90 percent of the exam consists of trouble tickets that you need to resolve. These trouble tickets can include both simulation-style questions and questions that present you with a trouble ticket and a collection of information that you need to properly interpret.

To help prevent candidates from passing the exam through memorization of brain dumps, the exam might present the same trouble ticket multiple times, with different solutions each time. For example, if you receive a trouble ticket stating that a client machine inside a network cannot ping a host on the Internet, there could be many potential reasons that would explain the trouble ticket. So, it's up to you to navigate your way through the simulation to determine why the ping is failing in this instance (e.g. the default gateway is unreachable; the DNS server is down; or routing is incorrectly configured on a router). The simulations questions do offer context-sensitive help. So, you don't need to be overly concerned about memorizing all of the commands you might potentially need. Rather than testing your ability to memorize dozens of commands, the exam focuses on your real-world ability to quickly fix problems.

I'm hoping to help certification candidates navigate their way through this very challenging exam with a couple of titles I have coming out from Cisco Press. First, Cisco Press is releasing the TSHOOT Exam Certification Guide, in which I present the reader with a review of the technologies that might become troubleshooting targets, along with strategies for troubleshooting these technologies. The book also contains a collection of trouble tickets, along with output from selected commands. The reader is then challenged to resolve each trouble ticket based on the information provided. While more than one solution might be applicable to some of the trouble tickets, I present my suggested solution as a reference. Second, Cisco Press is releasing the Network Troubleshooting Video Mentor, which includes a DVD and a booklet. The DVD includes over seven hours of video, showing me troubleshoot a series of twelve trouble tickets. The accompanying booklet provides a summary of each lab and the lab topologies used.

Well, those are the highlights of the new TSHOOT course and exam, along with a couple of resources that can help you out. I hope this behind the scenes peek has helped you better understand this new component in Cisco's CCNP certification track.

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