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Cisco Testing

By now, you've read about many different Cisco tests. You probably want to know what's involved in signing up for or taking such tests. You need to remember that one process is required to sign up for the written tests and another is required to sign up for the CCIE laboratory evaluation.

Signing Up for the Written Exams

You can take Cisco written exams through Prometric or VUE. To register for a written Cisco certification exam, you can either visit Prometric's Web site, at http://www.2test.com, or call the company, at 800-204-3926 (in North America); outside North America, you can contact Prometric's headquarters directly by email, at itech@prometric.com. To sign up for an exam from VUE, you can visit http://www.vue.com or call 800-829-6387 (in North America) and then select option 2 and then option 4; outside North America, you can check the VUE Web site for more information. You can also check Cisco's Register for Exams page at http://www.cisco.com/warp/public/10/wwtraining/certprog/testing/register.htm for more information.

To sign up for a test, you must possess a valid credit card or contact Prometric or VUE for mailing instructions to send the company a check or money order. You can register for a test only after payment is verified or your check has cleared.

To schedule an exam, you need to call at least one day in advance. When you want to schedule a test, you need to have the following information ready:

  • Your name, organization, mailing address, and email address

  • A unique identifier that only you may use (either your Social Security number [in the U.S.] or a testing ID assigned by Prometric or VUE)

  • The name and number of the exam you want to take

  • A method of payment

After you sign up for a test, you are informed as to when and where the test is scheduled. You should try to arrive at least 15 minutes early. To be admitted into the testing room, you must supply two forms of identification, one of which must be a photo ID.

To cancel or reschedule an exam, you must call at least one day before the scheduled test time, or you might be charged, even if you don't show up to take the test.

All Cisco written exams are closed book. In fact, you can't take anything with you into the testing area. You are furnished with a blank sheet of paper and a pen. Most testing centers do not allow you to write notes before the exam begins. You do get some time to compose yourself, and even to take an orientation test before you begin the real thing. If you're a first-timer, we suggest that you take the orientation exam; it'll help you get more comfortable when you take the real Cisco test.

As soon as you complete your exam, the software tells you whether you've passed or failed. It also provides a report about your performance in various areas. Even if you fail the exam, we suggest that you ask for—and keep—the detailed test results that the test administrator can print for you. You can use these results to help prepare to retake a test, if necessary. If you're pursuing CCIE certification, you also need to send Cisco the results to verify that you've passed the written exam so that you can sign up for the laboratory exam. Alas, if you do need to retake an exam, you have to schedule another test and pay the fee again.

Tracking certification progress for Cisco exams also involves following one of two paths: To check on any written exam, you can call Prometric or VUE to obtain a transcript of your test record (a fee of $10 is charged for each such request), and to check on your test record for the lab exam, you have to call the test center where you took that exam to obtain the results.

Finally, remember that all Cisco certifications have expiration dates; keep track of yours so you'll know when to sign up for an exam to recertify if necessary.

Signing Up for the CCIE Laboratory Evaluation

You must schedule and take the laboratory evaluation at Cisco's facilities. Your full payment must be received at least 28 days before the laboratory evaluation date; otherwise, you are dropped. Typically, this means you must sign up at least two months in advance, if not sooner. Cisco must receive cancellations at least 28 days prior to the test; otherwise, the payment is forfeited. Finally, if you fail a laboratory evaluation, you must wait at least 30 days before making another attempt, due in part to the relatively small number of exam slots versus demand for those slots. You must also pay the lab evaluation fee again.

To sign up for a CCIE laboratory evaluation, you must call one of the CCIE departments at Cisco at the testing center where you want to take the test. At corporate headquarters in San Jose, California, that number is 800-829-6387; you can also fax Cisco at 408-527-8588 or send an email to ccie_ucsa@cisco.com. For testing locations and contact information, consult http://www.cisco.com/warp/public/625/ccie/exam_preparation/lab.html#3.

Before you can schedule any laboratory evaluation, the CCIE administrator at Cisco must receive proof that you've passed the CCIE Qualification exam. The usual approach is to fax the printout of your exam results to the CCIE laboratory evaluation location of your choice or to call 408-527-8588 for the ISP Dial test. Be sure to include your name, address, phone, and fax number so that your requests can be answered.

How to Prepare for Cisco Exams

At a minimum, you should use the following study materials to prepare for Cisco certification:

  • For most exams, Cisco offers several corresponding classes. The company recommends that you attend such training through a Cisco Learning Partner. You can arrange to do so through your local Cisco account representative or through your nearest Cisco location. In North America, call 800-829-6387, and outside North America, call 408-526-4000; ask to speak to an education representative. You can also locate a Cisco Learning Partner near you by visiting Cisco's Training and Certifications Web page, at http://www.cisco.com/training and then clicking the Learning Locator button on the left side.

  • Because Cisco publishes both course and test outlines and objectives, it recommends that you familiarize yourself thoroughly with those items prior to taking any test. Course objectives and test outlines are accessible through the various certification pages mentioned earlier in this chapter.

  • Each of Cisco's certification pages includes pointers to practice tests. Because these exams contain questions much like the real exams, they're worth taking.

In addition, you might find any or all of the following materials useful in your search for Cisco expertise:

  • Cisco Press and Que Certification—Pearson is home to the renowned Cisco Press, and Que Certification plans to offer Exam Cram 2 books for numerous Cisco exam topics as well. You can find Cisco Press at http://www.ciscopress.com and Que Certification at http://www.examcram.com.

  • Study guides—Most large computer book publishers offer Cisco certification-related titles.

  • Other publications—You can find plenty of other publications and resources if you take the time to look around on the Web or in a local bookstore; there's no shortage of materials available about Cisco technologies and Cisco certification preparation. Our quick visit to a major online bookstore turned up more than 100 titles using "Cisco" as a search term.

This set of materials represents a formidable collection of sources and resources for Cisco exam topics and related information.

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