Rant on Cisco Exams

Did Cisco 642-972 exam today (passed) but found a a question with a phrase that I was not familiar with “data center entry” – and to answer the question I had to know the difference between “server load balancing” and “data center entry“. Now I know about “Server load balancing” but have no idea what “data center entry” means in relation to this. I even took the time to comment on the question (I don’t think they ever read that stuff, but it made me feel better).

But that’s not the whole story. The term showed up again in another un-related question, but this time as an irrelevant disctractor, so I didn’t care, but made a mental note to search the web tonight, to see what Cisco means by “data center entry” in relation to load balancing.

When I searched for cisco load balance “data center entry” – I found two documents on the Cisco website that happend to have the phrase “At the data center entry point..” and a glossary reference referring to the “data center entry” – ie the glossary entry for “data center”.

But here’s the fun part – also appearing in the search results was about a dozen Brain Dumps of the exam! Now I find it just so stupid that Cisco would use such uniquely obscure terminology in their exams that the only place it turns up in a search is in a set of brain dumps.

Which brings me to the point of this rant, and a suggestion that would make all brain dumps useless.

Firstly, when an exam needs to be written, get industry experts and instructors to submit questions. Thousands of them if possible. They would have to follow guidelines and be clearly linked to the objectives AND refer to a publicly available Cisco document, Cisco Press book or official Cisco Course notes that would explain the correct answer. Once a large number of questions has been assembled – somewhere in the ratio of 20 times the number of questions needed, publish the lot. Questions, answers and explanations. Let the world see all the possible questions for the exam. Then each time a student sits the exam, they get a random selection of the questions, meaning that probably no two tests would be the same, but on the other hand, if you have a test with 50 questions pulled from a publicly available bank of 1000 questions then you will have had to learn your stuff to pass anyway.

My logic is that if you have 1000 questions, all with validated and referenced answers, then the mere fact of learning the 1000 questions (or at least 850 of them if the pass mark is 85%) will mean that you learn the material anyway. And not only that, I expect that you’ll get better quality questions anyway – at least better than what I got today.


About RedNectar Chris Welsh

Professional IT Instructor. All things TCP/IP, Cisco or VoIP
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