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BCMSN (642-812) Fail

Posted by Aragoen Celtdra on July 25th, 2010

I took my BCMSN exam on Saturday July 24, 2010. As you can tell from the title of the post, I failed. I’m a bit disheartened by the outcome. Although I felt nervous, like I always do, coming into the exam, I was confident I could pass it. I was not over-confident. I just felt that I had enough knowledge to get through.

Here’s how I did:

Implement VLANs: 100%
Spanning Tree: 90%
Implement Inter-VLAN routing: 80%
Implement gateway redundancy technologies: 75%
Describe and configure wireless client access: 40%
Describe and configure security features in a switchted network: 25%
Configure support for voice: 25%

Passing score: 804
My score: 731

Notice how the pattern in the scores go from highest to lowest in exactly the same order that Cisco lays out the exam topic. In a way it’s a telling pattern as to how my learning path progressed. In all the study resources I read, the texts were arranged pretty much in the same order as the BCMSN blueprint is layed out. Consequently, I spent a whole lot more time on the topics higher up on the list than I did on topics further down the list. And the scores reflect that. However that is not to say I didn’t feel as prepared on the topics I scored lowest on as I did on the topics I scored the highest. I believe it’s also in the way the exam itself was layed out.

The number one reason I failed the test is time management. No matter how much I read about how you need to manage your time, this always seems to be what gets me. Just to give you an idea of my horrendous management of time:

  • Out of nearly 60 exam questions, I still had about 15 left by the time the exam expired.
  • There were 2 sim questions on which I spent nearly 20 minutes working on. It didn’t help that these sim questions came in within the first 15 exam questions.
  • In each of the sim questions, I spent almost 5 minutes just lingering around checking and double checking that my configurations were correct.

The only positive thing about spending that much time in the configuration sections is that I”m pretty sure I got them both correct or pretty close to being correct. The two sim questions had a lot to do with setting up VLANs, checking spanning tree configuration, and manipulating spanning tree behaviour. And as you can see on the breakdown of the scores, I scored a 100% and 90% on each topic, respectively.

The fact that I spent almost half of my allotted time on the sims and the fact that I still had about 15 questions remaining tells me that had I managed my time better and finished the exam, I might have had enough points to pass. I don’t believe that my scores on wireless and voice is telling of how much I know or don’t know about the topics. Actually, without having finished the exam, I have no way of knowing if I really know enough about those topics or if I should focus more on those topics before my next attempt. My gut tells me to focus more on getting faster on configuration.

Here are some of my thoughts on why I took so long on the sims:

  • I need to get better at understanding what the question is asking and get down to the requirements of the configuration. I’m always caught off guard by questions that include background scenarios that don’t necessarily pertain to what the problem is asking me to solve.
  • I tend to linger on one part of the solution over and over trying to make sure that I configured it correctly even after I’ve correctly verified through show commands that the outcome being asked for has been fulfilled. For example, I had a problem where I needed to make a configuration change so that one trunk interface is the preferred path over another. When I was finally able to accomplish the task, I verified it over and over and over again that it was correct.. and there were 3 more tasks waiting to be completed. 
  • I really need to memorize commands in addition to understanding it. A huge part of the problem with the configuration was that I knew what I needed to do but I forget what the exact commands are. Was it spanning-tree vlan root primary or spanning-tree root primary vlan? Was it an interface configuration or a global configuration?  

This is my first Cisco exam fail. This is probably not going to be the last – although, ideally, it should be. I always read on many people’s blogs and in forums those comments who have failed an exam, and they always say how passable the exam is and how fair the questions were. And I always thought to myself, how can people fail and exam and afterwards think that it is totally fair and passabel. Well.. ironically, I find myself in the same situation with the same sentiments about the exam. I thought it was totally fair and totally passable.

I would write more about my thoughts on my experience but writing about passing an exam is more fun than writing about failure. 😀 So I’m getting back on the horse and ride again. Next test is scheduled July 30th.

I’m on a horse! Heeyaa!!!!

11 Responses to “BCMSN (642-812) Fail”

  1. Rofi NeronNo Gravatar Says:

    don’t let them win! second time is a seat victory :)
    good luck and focus, focus focus (or lab, lab, lab)

  2. AaronNo Gravatar Says:

    You’ve got another shot at it.  You’ll beat it next week.  Just keep practicing on those labs to get the speed up.  Best of luck.

  3. JodiNo Gravatar Says:

    Hi mate,
    we share some situation, BCMSN is the first failed cisco exam i’ve taken.
    I got 800 on the first attempt.
    but in the end we will laughing at this kind of sweet memories :)
    you’ll make it 30th july.

  4. SeraphusNo Gravatar Says:

    Best of luck on the next attempt!

  5. SunnyNo Gravatar Says:

    How did the resit go on the 30th?

  6. Aragoen CeltdraNo Gravatar Says:

    Just a quick update: I passed!!! I’ll try to do write up soon.

  7. ArsalanNo Gravatar Says:

    Last time I failed, I didn’t study for two months. lol

  8. PierreNo Gravatar Says:

    Long ago, I passed the CCNA and the routing exam of the CCNP. Along with that I have the Linux LPI-1 and MCSE from NT4 and I have the MCAD .NET. Although these are oldies, I would like to think my advice has some value if any. I believe that given the effort you’ve put in, you know how to make these Cisco products sing better than the so-called professionals I share the office I’m typing from now. That’s great, but maybe along with knowing the commands etc, you should also focus on how to take the test. As you know, there’s a difference between knowing the material, and being able to pass a test. Like you said, your low percentage scores in certain topics are not a reflection of how well you know them — I couldn’t agree more.
    So while you continue to study the materials such as how to get surgical with a router, you should also put time into “How to take the test”. For me, I learned that you shouldn’t read the tests from the top. You should always look for the ? “question mark” and start there. Often times, there’s fluff on top that are immaterial to the sentence just behind the “question mark”. Sometimes, all you have to read is the question mark, and you can pick out the answers — major time saver.
    Of course, the simulation questions are different. Back then, there was no such thing. It was just about what commands must one type in in order to achieve a result. But my guess is there is one key configuration and the rest are supporting configs. Maybe if you approach it with a nihilistic point of view, you’ll save time.
    Coincidentally, I was studying for the CCNP also; hoping maybe I can finally attain the CCNP status. After I got laid off, everything including my motivation went south.

  9. PierreNo Gravatar Says:

    Shoot, I didn’t read farther down. Congratulations.

  10. joshNo Gravatar Says:

    great Job,
    Cisco has obviously done a good job in making the professional level exams much harder than before, which is a good thing. I just finished up a 3rd exam in quest for a CCVP, tough stuff for sure, even for a CCIE R/S. I wish you luck on your journey
    CCIE 16024

  11. JoeNo Gravatar Says:

    I studied for this exam for a while as well. It was a tuff one to pass.

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