One of the most common complaints from mendicants is that the written exams are not relevant to daily use of the technology or their jobs, and how am I supposed to learn this stuff ? Eh ? Of course they aren’t relevant. Lets look at this fallacy.
“The Exams are not relevant to my daily work”
Lets get this clear, exams are not relevant to daily work. They are a test that proves that you have:
- learned how certain technologies work
- learned about interactions and connections between technologies
- memorised or retained a certain amount of fundamental facts that should be relevant your ongoing
It is not a test that you know how to do your job, that is the bosses problem. Think how would it be possible to test for the activities that would happen at your workplace, when every workplace is different. For many people who are doing the test they may not have any skills or experience of the technology and that is the purpose of performing the test. To learn and develop a new skill.
Consider the last point carefully: I always struggle with the amount of memory work in the exams. But it is also true that there are certain fact and core information that you need to have “in your head”.
For example, I was recently redistributing external routes from a VPN Concentrator into an OSPF Stubby area. It took me some time to remember that stubby areas do not accept Type 5 LSAs and thus this would not work. I also remembered that using NSSA would solve the problem. Without these facts memorised, would I ever have worked this out ? Possibly, but (my faulty memory aside) made it a lot quicker to fix the problem. More apocalyptic cases could also be used where ignorance will break an entire network.
Cisco leans towards fundamentals, less on the product
From a Cisco certification perspective, there is a single factor that shines through – focus on the technology and not the equipment. Oh sure, they ask some equipment related questions on how to configure it or perform certain tasks, but more than half of any certification is about the underlying technology. I suspect that this is less true of other vendors; I have experienced training and exams from certain companies where it was assumed that you know the fundamentals, (presuming that I have magically obtained this information from somewhere else) and thus are only interested in how to configure a given technology on their platform. This type of training is the worst to go through, and causes a poor perception of training.
I wonder if the Cisco training focus on fundamentals is part of their success ? It is an interesting idea. I have had discussions with people that only “Cisco has this or that feature” when it exists in many products. The person just didn’t know that other companies would adopt the same technology.
Didn’t you go to University ?
I don’t get this question (so much) from people who have been to University. Perhaps that means that those who have experienced more examinations are less likely to complain. If so, that makes sense, even after ten years of Certification Exams I still struggle with the format.
Exams are to test knowledge, Real life is real life
I don’t know how Cisco puts their exams together, but I reckon that it would be difficult to put questions together that are accurate in real life. How exactly could you ask questions that would be comfortable to everyone ? And asking questions that you can answer doesn’t really make you learn. The research suggests that learning and retention only happens under certain conditions and the exam is attempting that validate that your have learned something.
So quit moaning to me, and wasting your own time. The exams are what they are, and don’t have much relevance to real life but they are very practical.