Home > Articles > Cisco Certification > CCNP > Diving into Cisco's new SWITCH, ROUTE, and TSHOOT Exams with Cisco Press Authors

Diving into Cisco's new SWITCH, ROUTE, and TSHOOT Exams with Cisco Press Authors

  • Article is provided courtesy of Cisco Press.
  • Date: Feb 22, 2010.

Article Description

Linda Leung interviews Cisco Press authors Denise Donohue, Jay Swan, Kevin Wallace and Sean Wilkins to get a detailed look at the new CCNP exams.

Questions About TSHOOT

Linda Leung: TSHOOT is a brand new course with a brand new exam. Wendell Odom wrote in his blog that Cisco had included a troubleshooting exam in the early days of CCNP, but was later dropped. Why do you think it has come back? Does it look the same? How have skills required for troubleshooting changed over the years?

Kevin Wallace: The CCNP courses used to include the Cisco Internetwork Troubleshooting (CIT) course. As Cisco courses go, the course material was very short, with most of classroom time being dedicated to labs rather than lecture. Primarily, the course focused on troubleshooting various routing protocols and Cisco Catalyst 5000 Series switch issues. Cisco then eliminated the CIT course, stating that each of their newer CCNP courses (i.e. the now-retiring BSCI, BCMSN, ISCW, and ONT courses) would integrate troubleshooting methodologies directly into each of the courses.

Now, Cisco appears to have fundamentally re-engineered what the CCNP certification is all about. The focus has been narrowed to ensure basic route/switch competencies for real-world IT professionals. With that in mind, having been in the IT industry for over two decades, I can certainly attest to the fact that troubleshooting is a major component of the day-to-day tasks of a network engineer. So, I'm in complete agreement with Cisco that troubleshooting deserves its own course.

The new TSHOOT course differs significantly from the older CIT course. The TSHOOT course is by no means short on page count. Rather, it's a big course, with students being required to watch hours of additional e-learning content outside of the classroom lecture. Interestingly, topics covered in the TSHOOT course aren't solely based on topics covered in the ROUTE or SWITCH courses. For example, THSOOT addresses the troubleshooting of Cisco IOS firewalls and QoS technologies, even though these are not technologies covered in either the ROUTE or SWITCH courses.

To give you a sense of the breadth of troubleshooting topics covered in the TSHOOT course, here's a sampling:

  • Network maintenance defined
  • The steps involved in troubleshooting a network
  • A collection of troubleshooting features, applications, and Cisco IOS commands
  • Strategies for troubleshooting Cisco Catalyst switches
  • A generic discussion of troubleshooting routing protocols
  • Specific discussions on troubleshooting individual routing protocols, including OSPF, EIGRP, and BGP
  • Approaches to troubleshooting route redistribution
  • Identifying and resolving router and switch performance issues
  • Troubleshooting security features supported in Cisco IOS
  • Troubleshooting a collection of Cisco IOS services (e.g. NAT and DHCP)
  • IPv6 troubleshooting
  • IP communications troubleshooting
  • Advanced services troubleshooting
  • Strategies for troubleshooting large enterprise networks

You were also asking about how skills required for troubleshooting have changed over the years. One of the biggest shifts we've seen is "data" networks being used to carry more voice and video. With the advent of these converged networks, the number of potential troubleshooting targets has grown. For example, perhaps a Cisco IP Phone is not obtaining an IP address from a Cisco IOS router acting as a DHCP server, or a voice network is not appropriately using quality of service (QoS) mechanisms to prioritize voice traffic over data traffic.

So, overall, I think the new TSHOOT course does an excellent job of exposing CCNP candidates to multiple troubleshooting issues likely to be experienced in the real world, and then equipping those candidates with best-practice strategies for resolving those issues.

LL: Cisco is claiming that 90% of the authorized course is labs. How will this be achieved and how do you advise students to make the most out of lab courses?

KW: Cisco is clearly intent on validating a candidate's troubleshooting skills, rather than validating a candidate's ability to memorize a collection of facts. To accomplish this, Cisco has chosen to challenge exam candidates with multiple troubleshooting scenarios in the exam. These scenarios might be simulation-based questions or multiple choice questions where the exam candidate selects an appropriate answer based on a provided topology and a collection of diagnostic output.

To prevent candidates from merely memorizing a collection of brain dump questions to prepare for the TSHOOT exam, the exam has been designed such that the same question (i.e. trouble ticket) would have different valid answers at different times. For example, a trouble ticket might state that a client is failing to obtain an IP address. The issue could be a connectivity issue. Alternately, the issue could be the configuration of a Cisco IOS DHCP server, or even a misconfiguration of the client's switch port. To determine the correct response, a candidate might need to navigate through a network simulator to determine the appropriate response.

So, TSHOOT exam candidates truly need to understand how things in a network are supposed to behave and how they're supposed to be configured, rather than just memorizing that one issue has a certain cause, and another issue has a different cause.

LL: Cisco in the training description, says students will learn a "systematic ITIL-compliant approach to perform network troubleshooting." First, isn't it unusual for a company to validate a single methodology, and second, what's the difference between an ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) approach vs. any other?

KW: Since troubleshooting is part art and part science, I can certainly see the need for Cisco to identify some common frame of reference to use when troubleshooting. Having such a common frame of reference, in this case the ITIL, can aid in collaboration efforts. Identifying such methodologies is nothing new. Consider Cisco's Service-Oriented Network Architecture (SONA) design model or the Planning, Designing, Implementing, Operating, and Optimizing (PDIOO) lifecycle.

Also, I think using an ITIL-compliant approach is appropriate because this library of information is incredibly comprehensive, covering just about any aspect of IT management you can imagine: infrastructure, security, business factors, change management, and management of software assets to name a just a few.

LL: How do you recommend students should study for TSHOOT? How does your new study book reflect this?

KW: Without question, before someone can be a successful troubleshooter, they need to understand the underlying technologies. So, I recommend that exam candidates first go through the ROUTE and SWITCH curriculum, and pass the corresponding exams, before moving on to the TSHOOT curriculum. Once they're ready, they need to understand what applications, features, and Cisco IOS commands are available to help them troubleshoot a reported network issue. They also need to be exposed to common troubleshooting targets for various technologies (e.g. neighbors not forming adjacencies as an example of a common OSPF issue) along with best practice recommendations for addressing those issues. Finally, exam candidates need practice in resolving a variety of trouble tickets.

My book, TSHOOT Exam Certification Guide, takes this approach by equipping the reader with a collection of troubleshooting tools, reviewing how various technologies are supposed to operate, identifying common issues with these technologies, and challenging the reader with a collection of trouble tickets. The trouble tickets include a topology, one or more reported symptoms, and a collection of diagnostic output. Armed with this information, the reader is asked to suggest a resolution to the reported issue. Although some issues can be resolved in more than one way, each trouble ticket is accompanied with a suggested solution.

For more visual learners, I have another product coming out from Cisco Press (Network Troubleshooting Video Mentor), which is going to be a component in the upcoming CCNP TSHOOT Cert Kit. This Video Mentor product features over seven hours of troubleshooting videos, where viewers watch while I present and then resolve a variety of trouble tickets on live gear.

4. General Question About the CCNA Changes | Next Section Previous Section

Cisco Press Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Cisco Press and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Cisco Press products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@ciscopress.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Cisco Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.ciscopress.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020