Did you really fall for that? Well if you did, I hate to disappoint you but you won’t find me ever giving away test answers. Since you’re here though, you might as well keep reading. While you won’t find test answers, you will find the answer to the question of how to pass the exam.
After 6 weeks of studying my (insert your choice of words here) today was the day that I met the CWSP exam up close and personal. I’ll admit now that this exam was the one on my list that had me worried the most. For those of you that know me this won’t be a surprise, but taking exams has never been a favorite thing of mine. I typically always over prepare to the point that I freak myself out a bit, which usually leads to me getting in my own way come test time by way of lots of second guessing. However, today wasn’t one of those days. Even with the uncertainty of if I knew enough of the little details to pass, I went into the exam and left a newly minted CWSP!
Here are some things I wanted to pass on that helped me prepare in no particular order.
- Get your hands on the study guides (Sybex CWSP-205, 2nd Edition and Certitrek CWSP-205, 2nd Edition)
I personally found myself studying the Sybex version the most. The thoroughness of David Coleman & David Wescott in the Sybex book is outstanding. The repetitive nature of the text helps drill the key points home, while also helping you understand the real world applications of the principles. While I used the Sybex book more, the Certitrek book by Tom Carpenter is also an excellent study guide. I recommend using both to help you see the same information from multiple perspectives. Seeing two sides to everything, even if the principles are the same never hurts.
- Break it down
Don’t take it on and think you have to read the book cover to cover without stopping. While everyone studies differently, I found that by taking an individual chapter at a time and really drilling into the material, helped me learn the most. Think about the information presented and an example of your professional career when you have seen it in action.
For example, when I was studying the EAP types that used server certificates I remembered a time where I was setting up a laptop on a 802.1X network. For the life of me I could not get the device to connect, and finally after hours of trying I realized that the RADIUS server was using a self signed certificate. The importance of that was I had no clue to check for the correct root CA certificate on the client. I also didn’t realize that while not recommended, I could have simply unchecked the “Validate Server Certificate” box in the client.
- Apply the information
For some, this may be the most difficult part to accomplish. The reason is that you will need a laptop with software/hardware capable of gathering 802.11 traffic over the air (OTA). If you are a Mac user, you have the ability to do this natively in the OS. For extra ease of doing so, check out Adrian’s Airtool app. Being able to capture this traffic and analyze it with packet capture software such as Wireshark (free) or Omnipeek (paid) will really help you understand how all this stuff really works.
If you want to see how this really helps you understand a CWSP principal for instance, check out my blog post on 802.11 Encryption Keys. Writing an in depth discussion helped me commit details to memory that I might not have remembered otherwise.
There are great practice questions in both of the exam study guides I mentioned above. Work though those and focus not only on getting the right answer, but understanding why the other answers are wrong. If that’s not enough, I highly recommend the practice tests available on the CWNP site. They even have a bundle available that has the practice tests & an exam voucher for not much more than the exam alone would cost.
- Trust yourself
While this may not be a factor for some reading this post, others might need the encouragement 🙂 I can tell you that even for someone like myself who has been in the wireless industry for over 8 years, you will never know it all. Don’t let that stop you from trying. You will be able to pass the exam if you study and try hard enough. I would insert a Thomas the Tank reference here, but you get the point.
This journey started for me officially back in February 2017 at the WLAN Professionals conference in Phoenix, AZ. Unofficially it started in 2010 with my first copy of the CWNA PW0-104 study guide. Reading that guide then, and the CWNA/CWAP/CWSP guides now created a lot of doubt. I wasn’t sure I could make it through. Fortunately, I’ve made a few friends along this journey that have been there and done that with these exams. While many have offered encouragement, a special shoutout to CWNE’s Blake Krone #152 & Jeff Haydel #163 for helping me along the way and keeping me going. Without these guys, I’m not sure that I would still be pushing down the path. Yet here we are, just one more exam (CWDP) standing between myself and being able to submit an application for CWNE status.
Good luck to everyone else that is either on the path already, or thinking about starting it. You will be amazed at how much you learn studying for these exams, even if you’ve been a wireless professional since 802.11 prime 🙂