Home > BSCI, CCNP, ROUTE, Study Materials > BSCI or ROUTE – which exam fits you?

BSCI or ROUTE – which exam fits you?

Now that the ISCW is behind me I have to make a quick decision before I start working on my next exam: Which exam should I take?
Out of the 4 CCNP exams this is in my opinion the biggest, scariest and hardest to pass – which make decision-making harder.

It is a heavyweight championship and the two contestants are:
On the right corner, the 3 time champion with thousands of knockouts (am I next?), a 90 minutes\50-60 questions – The Building Scalable Cisco Internetworks (aka BSCI 642-901)

On the left corner, the rookie from Cisco’s training center, a 120 minutes\52 questions – The Implementing Cisco IP Routing (aka ROUTE 642-902)

Now let’s be serious and get rid of all the non-techie readers (sorry wifi).
What are the parameters that should lead us to the decision?
Which questions should be asked and what information do we need?

This is the information I’m looking for:

  • Exam topics (ROUTE, BSCI)
  • Study materials & Labs
  • Web support
  • Exam durability

Exam Topics
Cisco’s announcement
talked about more “real life” which stands for two things: removing topics like IS-IS which are going away and adding hands-on tasks on the exam.
The goal here is getting more capable CCNPs, not just reading and memorizing experts (when was the last time that you saw an IS-IS network?) but professionals who can take a router and make it work (using real world protocols).

With the new ROUTE exam, IPv6 is moving to the front as a major topic.
It will also present a new topic – Implement Layer 3 Path Control Solution.
Routing protocols still have a major part of the exam as EIGRP, OSPF and eBGP are in and expanded. It is not clear how much deeper we’ll have to dive with EIGRP and OSPF compare with the BSCI path, reading the syllabus it feels like same level of knowledge but many more labs.

The topics that BSCI include and being removed are IS-IS, BGP, multicasting and Implement Cisco IOS routing features (mainly DHCP, route filtering and route distribution)

Winner – if you feel hands-on is more important you’ll go with the ROUTE exam. If you appreciate knowledge and familiarity with many technologies BSCI is your winner

Study Materials & Labs
As the old guy around BSCI present endless resources: video training courses, classes with experienced trainers (the same trainers will be running the courses but ROUTE is new to them too) and a huge variety of books and lab scenarios. In addition, many web sites and blogs wrote about the BSCI over the years and are great addition to fill up gaps in the books, labs and videos.

On the other hand the ROUTE exam just rolled out and though some books are already available the major video resources do not have anything ready and it is not clear what is the required lab setup.

Winner – this is a knockout in favor of BSCI

Web Support
Talking about web support I point at you guys, those who spend time at the official Cisco forums, the Cisco Learning Network and hundreds of other Cisco related forums.

If you ever studied to any exam you know that the books and videos are good to a certain point but the knowledge of others is priceless. You can always find someone with a good answer and an understandable explanation to topics you can’t fully grasp.

As with class instructors, the forum users have lots of BSCI experience, many of them took the exam and know what is expected. They can point you to the important issues as ROUTE experience will only start building after March 10th and will take some time to build into a massive power.

Winner – once again and for similar reasons, a knockout in favor of BSCI

Exam Durability
When I say durability I talk about the long-term usability of the BSCI (and for this matter BCMSN is in the same boat). Cisco says that BSCI can stand for ROUTE but is it going to change?
I think not. Since the exam is only valid for 3yr period I believe it will be valid for as long as you have it. Cisco is too serious to trick you.

The other aspect is how future employers will see the new exam. Since we do not know how tough it will be and what exactly will be included in the exam, it is hard to predict but I think over time employers might prefer it for pure R&S positions but when the job is more versatile, the old path provide wider array of  knowledge and have an advantage.

Winner – if anyone has an advantage here it would be ROUTE by few points

While the new ROUTE exam holds a huge potential to becoming a serious hands-on measurement tool it is still too early in the process to see this advantage. Being an exam candidate you want to get the knowledge but be honest – you want to pass the exam and BSCI offer more resources to do so.

If you have a different point of view or you think I missed something, you are welcome to comment and spark the discussion.

  1. February 11, 2010 at 10:28 am

    I’m personally shooting for BSCI just because I’m already so deep in the material. I should at least take one shot at the test before I’m forced to switch to ROUTE version if I even need to

  2. Andy M
    February 5, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    Depends on your time schedule and personal preference, I think.

    BSCI is easier in the sense that you can already look for people who have already passed the exams and ask for their experience. This exam is also the one you should take if you just want to grab the CCNP certification and don’t really care about current technologies and whatnot. But you have to move fast, because you have to take (and pass) the test before July 31st.

    If you want the most recent technologies involved instead, and have longer time schedule take ROUTE. By the longer time schedule I meant, this test only become available by March, so you’d have to wait until then. However, from what I’ve read so far, I think it will be more practical than the BSCI test, and in the long term, practice and experience is what you should aim for, instead of just a flimsy piece of paper.. :p

    Besides, I believe you can just mix and match either exams to get the CCNP cert (BSCI then switch to SWITCH and TSHOOT, for example). My own experience from taking the old BSCI and BCMSN tests back when there are still BCRAN and CIT. I had to switch to ISCW and ONT instead of taking those two because I ran out of time..

    I hope my 2-cent ain’t too long for this blog… :p

    • Rofi Neron
      February 5, 2010 at 11:37 pm

      first thanks for the time, seem like you spent as much time as I spent on this post 😀
      obviously it is a personal preference but I do not agree on your observation on new topics. some topics have been removed and some has been expanded, mostly to the hands-on area but other than IPv6 (which is also part of the BSCI but had a major expansion) there are no new technologies but more practice labs.

      • Andy M
        February 6, 2010 at 12:13 am

        Good point. I actually counted IPv6’s expanded topics as ‘new topics’, but you’re right in saying that not much more is added to the ROUTE aside from IPv6. Well, more practice and less theory is still good, I think. 🙂

  3. February 4, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    Definitely going for the BCMSN… mostly because I already bought the book, the content seems very solid, robust, and useable.

    • Rofi Neron
      February 4, 2010 at 10:14 pm

      @Steve good luck with your exam, let us know how you did and I assume we’ll see you around the ISCW materials here

      @M when you know what to do the simulators are always easy. the problem is getting to this point 😉

      @Steven good luck, BCMSN is a fun exam!

  4. M
    February 3, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    Just passed my BSCI y’day. Number of simulations were same as BCMSN – and they weren’t too complex.

    @Steve – don’t underestimate wireless and VOIP for BCMSN, good luck!

    • Steve
      February 9, 2010 at 12:15 pm

      Good call on the BCMSN M! I think those sections got me through after the tough first simulation which took me way too long. Onto ISCW and ONT before July 31st 🙂

  5. Steve
    February 3, 2010 at 5:30 am

    I agree totally, the BSCI exam has plenty of resources out there for it (I found the lab portfolio very good) and it’s a accepted and respected part of the CCNP track. I’m doing my BCMSN next week then hoping to do ISCW and ONT before the July 31st deadline, we’ll see how that goes!

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