[lpi-discuss] Re:BSD certification JTA survey report available

Bryan J. Smith b.j.smith at ieee.org
Tue Aug 2 19:56:29 EDT 2005

Grant Sewell <g.sewell at thymox.uklinux.net> wrote:
> On the topic of practical "hands on" testing...
> As I understand it, the Cisco cert exams are pretty much
> 100% "exam" based, much like the LPI exams.

Cisco essentially has 3 levels (not including specialties):
- Associate (1 exam)
- Professional (4-5 exams of greater depth)
- Expert (lab exam)

Cisco pretty much "pushes the envelope" of the format in the
Associate/Professional levels as Prometric/Vue deliver
virtualized.  This includes a few simulations, more detailed
at the Professional level than Associate.

AFAIK, the only way to be more realistic is to do what Novell
does.  They have the Prometric/Vue location actually remotely
connect to a Novell managed and virtual network/system
architecture, and present a way to remotely access it. 

As someone who went up the entire CCDP route back when it was
6 exams, if you know enough, you _should_ pass.  At the same
time, I got _killed_ on the BSCI exam because I forgot a
single command at the end (no shut to bring up my interfaces
-- I remembered about 5 minutes down the road after the
exam), although I still passed.

> Unfortunately I have not had the pleasure of taking any RH
> certs, so I don't know how close a parallel the following
> might be.

I took the RHCE "cold turkey" (i.e., RH302 exam-only, 1 day)
post-January 2003 when they made it much harder to pass
(although easier to obtain at least the RHCT portional as
almost a consolation prize ;-).

As of January 2003, the RHCE is clearly designed for someone
who takes the full, RH300 -- 4-day "crash course" plus exam. 
You can literally get a 93% and fail now, unlike prior where
a 80% composite was all that was needed (no less than 50% in
any one section).  I got over a 96%, perfect in every
section, subsection and RHCE compulstory except 1 -- where I
got a 77% (only 7% above passing).

> The Cisco Academy route to certification presents the
> student with 1 "final" exam per semester (there are 4
> semesters for CCNA, and 4 for CCNP) which is in a similar
> style to the LPI exams, as well as separate "chapter" exams
> which are not mandatory (although by default are weighted
> at 5% each, or so).

Or there are some of us that went out and took the CCNA,
CCDA, BSCI, Switching, Remote Access and Design in sequence
without training required to make the CCDP.  And when I was
all done, Cisco said one of the exams I took was now "too
old" -- even though they just retired a few weeks earlier,
_after_ I took it.  I actually had to reschedule 2 exams
because Prometric in Illinois would not let me transfer my
location out-of-state (from Florida), and this screwed up my

This has turned me off from taking the ARCH and CIT, which
would give me both the CCNP and "new" CCDP.  It's clear that
Cisco's education is driven by training, although I will give
them some kudos on the fact that they do involve public
schools (and that's not a money maker for them).

In a nutshell, I'm the certification candidate most
certification programs/partners that are in the "training is
highly profitable" hate.  I come in, take the exam cold
turkey, and pass -- largely because I quickly pick up on what
they are looking for.  CIW was the utmost disappointment

> However, Cisco also encourages a
> written piece of work (called a "case study" by Cisco, and
> "coursework" by my students) and a practical "Skills Based
> Assessment" (SBA) for each semester.

Microsoft does too, although it's clearly "watered down."

[ Personal/Flammatory Note:  Microsoft's arrogance to insist
this "designing" to the professional level of "engineering"
is like saying someone who knows how to read a perscription
medicine bottle and avoid taking it with another perscription
is a "doctor."  Red Hat's following Microsoft's footsteps
pleased me none-too-much-either. ]

> I guess what I'm trying to allude to in a round-about sort
> of way is that, to my mind, plain ol' exams are fine for
> people that have been using the technology (whether that be
> Linux, BSD or Cisco) for a while and are familiar with it
> and how it behaves, but "hands on" situations (like the
> SBA, above, and what I've been hearing about the "hands on"
> element of the RH certs) are more suitable for people who
> are newish to the technology and are not necessarily 100%
> sure of how to do something - the hands on exercises allow
> the student to explore their ideas on how best to tackle a
> situation, and then test them after implementation.

Depends.  To me, the RHCE is a fairly good test, although I
think they've made it harder to pass as of late to push more
training.  When I took it, only 2 people in the entire class
hadn't taken the crash coure in the prior 4 days -- and the
reason the other person was just taking the test is becasue
it had taken the crash course + test and failed (so it was an
exam-only re-take).

It's really _difficult_ to pass the RHCE without experience. 
Even the lower RHCT is also the same for those without

> I think that the way LPI have the exams side of things
> organised is pretty much spot-on.

They are the best exams given the format/financial
limitations.  They really put the CompTIA Linux+ to shame,
and raise the bar for just about everyone.

-- Bryan J. Smith

<cert whore mode=ON>
*NOTE: Not granted by Cisco (1 exam update needed)
</cert whore mode=OFF>

Bryan J. Smith                | Sent from Yahoo Mail
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