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Exam Profile: Cisco CCNP TSHOOT 642-832

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Kevin Wallace, the author of CCNP TSHOOT 642-832 Official Certification Guide, provides a quick overview of this new exam from Cisco. This profile can help you to prepare for the exam, giving yourself a better shot at passing it.
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The TSHOOT exam is one of three exams making up Cisco's very popular Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) certification track (the other two exams being ROUTE and SWITCH). As its name suggests, the TSHOOT exam verifies your ability to troubleshoot routing and switching issues in a Cisco network.

Exam Details

  • Number of questions: Cisco states that the TSHOOT exam contains 35–40 questions. However, the beta version of the exam contained 28 questions (12 multiple-choice questions and 16 troubleshooting scenarios).
  • Type(s) of questions: The TSHOOT exam is unique among Cisco exams in its use of troubleshooting scenarios. You'll be challenged with a dozen or so traditional multiple-choice questions, but approximately 80–90% of the exam score comes from interactive troubleshooting scenarios.
  • Passing score: Cisco doesn't publish the passing score for the TSHOOT exam.
  • Time limit: The exam has a time limit of 135 minutes.
  • How to register: You can register for the exam at the Pearson VUE website.

Trouble Spots

In an effort to prevent cheating, Cisco has structured the TSHOOT exam such that a candidate cannot be presented with a trouble ticket and identify the underlying issue based on memorization of a brain dump. Specifically, the candidate might see the same trouble ticket more than once, each time with a different underlying cause.

For example, the candidate might be presented with a trouble ticket indicating that a client PC cannot ping a host on the Internet. The issue in one trouble ticket might have to do with the client being configured with an incorrect default gateway. The same trouble ticket might be presented again, but with a different underlying cause; for example, an OSPF route redistribution issue.

Also, the candidate answers the trouble ticket scenarios through a series of three multiple-choice questions. First, the candidate must correctly identify the device in the network that's causing the issue. Based on the candidate's response, a second question asks what technology (for example, HSRP or STP) is misconfigured. Based on that third response, the candidate selects an action that would resolve the reported issue.

The probability of correctly guessing the answers to three consecutive multiple-choice questions (where the second and third questions can only be answered correctly if the preceding question was answered correctly) is practically zero. Therefore, candidates cannot pass the exam by making educated guesses. Instead, they must discover the true underlying issue for the problem being reported.

Aside from the challenging structure of the trouble ticket scenarios, another trouble spot is becoming familiar with the relatively complex topology that's used for each of the trouble ticket scenarios.

Preparation Hints

Since the TSHOOT exam assumes familiarity with the configuration and maintenance of Cisco routers and switches, you should be comfortable with the content presented in the ROUTE and SWITCH curricula prior to tackling the TSHOOT exam.

Hands-on experience adds tremendous value for TSHOOT exam candidates, since the majority of the TSHOOT exam will be performed in a simulated hands-on environment.

If possible, you should attend a TSHOOT course offered by a Cisco Learning Partner. Attendance in the TSHOOT course provides you with experience in troubleshooting a variety of trouble tickets, strategies for methodically troubleshooting a reported issue, and knowledge to answer the exam's multiple-choice questions (which primarily address troubleshooting theory).

To save time on the exam, and to better understand the topology used in all of the trouble tickets, spend time familiarizing yourself with the topology used in the exam. Fortunately, Cisco makes this topology publicly available, stating that its intent is to test a candidate's ability to troubleshoot issues, not to understand a complex topology. See the "Recommended Study Resources" section of this article for a link to this topology.

Recommended Study Resources

For self-study, the CCNP TSHOOT 642-832 Official Certification Guide is your best resource. This book from Cisco Press covers the theory of troubleshooting, the fundamentals of the various technology areas that might challenge you on the exam, quizzes, practice questions on a CD-ROM, identification of key topics, and memory tables.

The CCNP TSHOOT 642-832 Cert Kit from Cisco Press contains three products in one:

  • TSHOOT Video Mentor (offering more than seven hours of video, where you witness and participate in the resolution of a dozen troubleshooting scenarios)
  • 52-page Quick Reference booklet
  • Access to 300 online flash cards

Cisco's website offers a TSHOOT trouble ticket simulation where you can practice troubleshooting scenario questions similar to those you'll encounter on the exam.

Cisco also offers a TSHOOT tutorial that describes how to navigate a trouble ticket presented on the exam.

All trouble tickets on the exam are based on the same topology, which Cisco makes publicly available. You should familiarize yourself with the TSHOOT exam topology prior to taking the exam.

Where to Go from Here

Evaluate where you are in your certification pursuits. If you're not yet a CCNA, earning that certification should be your first step. The CCNA certification equips you with fundamental routing and switching concepts.

After attaining a CCNA, the next step would be to deepen your understanding of routing and switching technologies, by going through the ROUTE and SWITCH curricula and passing the corresponding exams.

The TSHOOT exam should be taken as a final step in the attainment of your CCNP certification, since it assumes a breadth of routing and switching knowledge. When you're ready for this final step, familiarize yourself with troubleshooting theory, as covered in the CCNP TSHOOT 642-832 Official Certification Guide and the TSHOOT course.

Challenge yourself with practice troubleshooting scenarios; for example, work through the practice trouble tickets presented in the CCNP TSHOOT 642-832 Official Certification Guide and the CCNP TSHOOT 642-832 Cert Kit.

Develop a structured troubleshooting plan that you intend to follow on the exam (for example, a top-down approach, a bottom-up approach, or a divide-and-conquer approach), regardless of the trouble ticket.

Have you taken the CCNP 642-832 TSHOOT exam? Share your experiences by posting to the CCNP exam thread in our forums.

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