I’ve taken many IT exams at testing centres over the past 12 or so years. But every time I go there, I re-remember (is that a word?) about the strange little things which grade from minor annoyances to exam performance wreckers.
Just yesterday I took an exam, it was 90 minutes of torture and on the way in I asked if I could have some water. The lady behind the testing centre desk told me I wasn’t allowed water in the exam! Er – you do know your brain works off water don’t you? The testing rooms are dry and always well ventilated which keeps you cool but also makes you thirsty.
I suppose I should be grateful that it wasn’t a two hour exam like the CCIE written.
Anyways. Here are some of the things you need to prepare for.
I work off a laptop. Many other people use ergonomic keyboards. Yet others use keyboards generic to their country. In the testing centre you get the cheapo rectangular, repetetive strain injury inducing variety. Worse though, I touch type but due to the layout I continually pressed the / key instead of enter.
2. Around the Bushes
The people asking the quesions want to test you but for some strange reason they like to do it in a perverted way. Like asking ‘which of these methods wont’ work?’ Great, now you are testing us on how not do to the job!
This is especially true for Cisco exams. You are not working on live routers so they don’t act as such. They almost act as such. I recently had to fix a broken network in an exam. I fixed everything but couldn’t ping the final hop to the ISP in the diagram. It was in the routing table but not reachable from the ‘broken’ router or the main HQ router. I had to eventually decide that it was a limitation in the simulator and move on.
Same with a VTP issue. Normally when you press on ‘show vtp status’ you see the IP address the last update was received on. Not this time buddy. I even pressed the spacebar which scrolls to the next part of the output. I almost gave up but it would have left me down one mark. I finally found out that if you press the return key, the final part of the output appears!
Before or after the exam. You are usually shaking with nerves or at least very apprehensive. You get ready to start the exam but no, you get asked a survey about how far you travelled to the exam today and where you heard about the vendor!