Wednesday, June 10, 2015

How to prepare for CCNA so that you can pass first time.

Proper preparation for CCNA is important as the failure rate is high among candidates taking the exam for the first time. For absolute new comers to the networking technology, it is recommended to take CCENT+ICND2 instead of single exam (CCNA). For those desirous of taking the CCNA exam, one needs to follow a proper study and practice plan. Study plan typically consists of the following:

1. Acquire course books, like study guides. Cisco official CCNA study guide is a very good place to start. Give lot of importance to the fundamentals. It is impossible to clear CCNA exam if you don't get the fundamentals (conceptual understanding) right. One example of such fundamental area is subnetworking. You need to thoroughly understand IPv4 subnetworking and how it is implemented.

Recommended books:
  • CCNA Routing and Switching Study Guide: Exam 100-101, 200-101, 200-120 by Todd Lammle
  • Cisco CCENT/CCNA ICND 200-120 by Wendell Odom

2. Get some good practice tests: This step comes after your initial preparation. Now, you are contemplating to take the exam during next couple of weeks. It is time for you to test your preparedness and fill any gaps in your learning. When buying any practice tests, remember that Cisco exams are NOT just multiple choice or exhibit based questions. The question types consist of Simlets (where you will be given a scenario, and given access to the network in a simulated environment. You may be required to run some relevant commands to know complete the question. For example, the question might ask you to find the problem with a small network consisting of a few routers and other networking devices . You may be required to run "show config" command on the routers to know if the IP/subnet addresses are configured properly.

Checkout the following practice tests:

You need to retake the practice tests until you are comfortable with all the concepts and the labs presented in the practice tests

3. Recently, CCNA has become more skill oriented and requires that a candidate configure or troubleshoot a problem with a given network. Therefore, you need to have hands-on experience in networking using Cisco routers and switches.  If you have access to real world router network, it would be good. However, most people can't afford to have such hardware for preparation. In such event, the following resources are useful:

The software simulates a router/switch network with the ability to develope your own labs using GUI based network visualizer and designer. One has to go through all the labs, and develop one's own labs for thorough preparation.

Note that it requires at least 3 - 6 months for thorough preparation for CCNA exam. It is recommended that you don't use any brain dumps, as they are mostly outdated, and gives false sense of confidence.

If you follow all these steps, you have very good chance of success in clearing the exam in the first attempt.

Good luck!

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