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Exam Profile: Cisco CCNP ROUTE 642-902

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Wendell Odom profiles the Cisco CCNP ROUTE 642-902 exam. Find out what you can expect to see on the exam and how you can best prepare for it.
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The Cisco CCNP ROUTE 640-902 exam serves as the core IP routing exam. The ROUTE exam takes a relatively deep look at Enterprise-oriented routing topics, including EIGRP, OSPF, route redistribution and control, BGP, IPv6, and a few other smaller topics.

Cisco uses the ROUTE exam as one of the requirements for three separate professional-level certifications. These certifications include Cisco's most popular professional-level certification, Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP); as well as the Cisco Certified Design Professional (CCDP), which focuses on network design; plus the Cisco Certified Internetwork Professional (CCIP), which focuses on technologies used by ISPs.

Exam Details

  • 52 questions
  • Question types: multiple choice (single and multiple answer), drag-and-drop, Sim, Simlet, Testlet
  • Passing score varies
  • 120 minutes
  • Register at vue.com

Trouble Spots

Some of the biggest trouble spots for an individual candidate depend on the experience of the candidate. For example, most enterprises keep a relatively static BGP configuration or simply do not use BGP much at all. As a result, many ROUTE candidates must learn BGP solely through study, without much or any real-world experience.

Similarly, IPv6, which is still in the early stages of adoption, is not yet implemented in most Enterprise networks. As a result, those pursuing the ROUTE exam need to take more time to study and spend more time practicing on their lab equipment for these topics.

The following topics tend to be trouble spots regardless of individual experience:

  • route redistribution
  • route filtering
  • BGP

Route redistribution, particularly when multiple redistributing routers exist, introduces many subtle interactions. These interactions require great care when analyzing each new topology and design.

Route filtering creates a challenge in that it can be implemented with many different configurations, so if test takers know one method well through on-the-job experience, they must also learn the addition configurations as well.

Finally, if following the typical path from CCNA to CCNP, BGP's logic differs significantly from the routing protocols included in CCNA, making it more difficult to relate BGP back to similarities with EIGRP, RIP, and OSPF.

Preparation Hints

First, you should immerse yourself in each major topic when you do study. For example, you might take some time away between studying EIGRP and OSPF, but when studying EIGRP, take the time to read and practice all the EIGRP material in a concentrated time period. The ROUTE exam has several large topic areas (BGP, EIGRP, OSPF, IPv6, Redistribution) that fit this strategy well.

Practice. Buy gear, use emulators, use simulators, rent or borrow gear, but plan to practice the configurations and spend time understanding the show commands. The certskills.com web site has some links to help you work through the topic of building a CCNP lab.

Learn each topic deeply. CCNA covers a much broader set of topics than does the ROUTE exam, but the ROUTE exam goes much deeper.

To learn the topics to the required depth, read your primary study source and review the material. It's also helpful to use multiple study sources when possible and practice the commands while immersing yourself in a topic.

Recommended Study Resources

Use the CCNP ROUTE 642-902 Official Certification Guide, which is sold standalone and as part of the CCNP Routing and Switching Official Certification Library. Like all Cisco Press Certification Guides, besides explaining the technology, this book offers many other tools to help with exam prep, including planning review tables, notations of the most important topics in each chapter, and a CD question bank with exam software.

The CCNP ROUTE 642-902 Cert Kit includes several resources to help you prepare for the exam, including videos from Kevin Wallace, quick reference pages, and flash cards.

The CCNP ROUTE Portable Command Guide provides a wonderful reference to use throughout your study process, providing a reference and explanations for the commands included in the exam.

The Implementing Cisco IP Routing (ROUTE) Foundation Learning Guide is a book based on the authorized Cisco course curriculum from Cisco. This book works well as a second source for the topics on the exam.

Where to Go from Here

Instead of starting with a choice to pursue the ROUTE exam, most candidates make a choice to pursue a particular certification—CCNP, CCDP, or CCIP—which then drives the choice to study for the ROUTE exam. Start by learning about these certifications, and once you choose the best one for you, pick a starting point. For all three of these certifications, the ROUTE exam may well be the best starting point.

If you've not yet attained your CCNA certification, it makes more sense to start with CCNA before considering the ROUTE exam. Why? From a certification perspective, CCNP, CCIP, and CCDP all require CCNA certification as a prerequisite. From a study perspective, ROUTE picks up the routing technology discussion where CCNA stops.

Have you taken the CCNP ROUTE 642-902 exam? Share your experiences by posting to the CCNP exam thread in our forums.

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