ONT – Epic WIN!

Two down, two to go.  After much groaning and moaning, I’ve finally passed my ONT test.  The path to this point has been full of road blocks and covered in potholes, but I finally managed to power through it.  Thank $deity.

If you remember, I’ve had quite a time with finding a testing center that’s convenient (or open for that matter), so I took the test at yet another center to see what they offer.  The facility was great; it was very quiet and clean, and the people were wonderfully friendly, which is a new concept to me.  Usually, the people don’t care about testers, but, being a center for inmates at state prisons (yes, prisoners), they do nothing but vocational and professional testing there.  That’s a lot better than the facilities who give their own students priority or who make money on training instead of testing.  The center is just over 2 hours away, but I think this place may be the best so far.  I’ll have to see what the future holds, though.

The test itself was nothing strange; I only had two or three question I hadn’t seen, and even those were basic and easy to answer.  Each time I failed this test, I jotted down what I missed and studied up on those topics.  The first time was mainly FRTS.  The second was VOIP.  The brute force method, as mentioned by @ciscovoiceguru seemed to be the key this time – eventually, I’d get a passing score by studying what I didn’t know the last time. Of the 55 questions, I would guess that 35 of them were on both previous attempts.  Of the remaining 20, about 17 or 18 of them were on either of the previous tests, so it turned out quite well this time.

The materials I first studied were pretty disappointing.  The Cisco Press books didn’t really help.  The content in them is so outdated that they’re pretty worthless for getting the details needed for a passing score, but what can one really expect for a test that’s expiring in a few months.  A few people made suggestions of other resources to study, but I found them to be too expensive for passing a single test.  Some unnamed solutions were $800, which means I could just take the test 5 times for the same cost; instead of paying that much for a $150 test, I decided to use the test itself as a study guide and to use Cisco’s docs to fill in the details.  This seems to have worked out eventually.

The next step is a switching test of some kind.  I can’t really decide if I want to do BCMSN or SWITCH.  I’ve got to look over the material to decide, but, in the meantime, I’m starting to read through the SWITCH book on Safari.  I hope it’s not outdated already.  I’m scheduled to be in the ROUTE class with Global Knowledge mid-May, so I’d like to finish up the switching test by then.  I think I can do it since this material is a lot more familiar to me than Cisco VOIP and Wireless; neither of which we run at the office. In theory, it’s going to be filling in the details than building a new skill set as with the ONT.

Thanks to everyone for their support.  At the risk of sounding cheesy, it’s hard to keep going, and the words of encouragement kept me from getting down on myself.

Any suggestion on which switching test to take would be greatly appreciated.  Has anyone actually taken the SWITCH test yet?

Send any Safari credits questions my way.

Aaron Conaway

I shake my head around sometimes and see what falls out. That's what lands on these pages. If you have any questions, the best way to contact me is through Twitter at @aconaway.

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5 comments for “ONT – Epic WIN!

  1. wayne
    April 8, 2010 at 12:43 pm


    It’s been a long time coming and I bet it feels great!

  2. April 8, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    congrats! I bet it is sweet victory, better than just passing on first attempt…
    I plan on taking it sometime this month, it is my last exam.

    as for your path, I took BCMSN 2 years ago and it wasn’t bad since I do most of it at work. If you have lots of hands on switching experience I would go for the SWITCH exam but the theory as I remember it wasn’t too complicated.
    good luck – remember that you’re on a tight schedule as July 31st is around the corner!

  3. April 8, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    congratz aaron!!!

    but….having passed the BCMSN I must say there is a ton (!) of WLAN in it, also VoIP. And even much more strange thingies I knew because I implemented them at work – I never saw them in the study material…

    Anyhow you can have a look how SWITCH questions look like in the cisco learning network. Seems like the SWITCH exam is quite different content than BCMSN – I tested myself a bit and miserably failed 🙁


    you’ll need a valid CCO-id though, but I guess you have one 🙂 I cant say that much ’bout the SWITCH exam, but still I think the BCMSN is a good exam. I especially like the first-hop-redundancy section and what I read from your blog you also are quite firm with HSRP etc…

    congrats again – go and celebrate!!! 🙂

  4. Ben
    April 8, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    Well done man =D

  5. Chris
    April 9, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Congrats! Like you, I seem to be using the brute force method. Between the two of us, we might be keeping cisco’s financial status in the black!

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