How to prepare for CCNA?

CCNA is among the most recognized networking certifications in the world. An associated level certificate in computer networks implementation using Cisco devices, it helps professionals improve their career with better jobs and higher pay. A candidate with a CCNA certification will have working level skills with networking technologies, particularly with respect to small to medium level enterprise networking. For those looking to prepare for Cisco certifications, this article provides some tips, and important notes to focus on.

Key Points to Remember:

  1. CCNA exam offered by CISCO includes a several topics based on TCP/IP networking that includes routing protocols with routed protocols. With so much to study, the exams may look difficult to crack. However, one should focus on subnetting, Cisco IOS, Switching, and routing protocols which serves as the core for CISCO CCNA exams. This requires candidates to go through the topics thoroughly.
  2. One needs both theoretical knowledge and practical skills in order to pass CCNA. The study requires practical skills in doing simulation type questions and the candidate needs theoretical knowledge in answering TCP/IP, Subnets, IPv6, and VLAN related questions. An example is that routing protocols are not secure in basic nature, but implementing secure routing is important for secure communications.
  3. The exam is a short one: The CCNA exam requires you to answer about 55 question in 90 minutes. CCNA practice exams are recommended to excel in the exams. Even if you have experience and thoroughly prepared for the exam, being able to answer correctly in the exam environment is tough. CCNA exams also involve simulation exercises that require practical skills to solve. This type of questions carry more marks than normal MCQ type questions. You will get around 3-4 simulation exercises. Answering this type of questions requires time, patience and preparation.
  4. CCNA Adds Weight to your resume: The CCNA certification not only provides insight in to networking, it makes your profile to be marketed as a networking expert with global organizations. You are given preference over non-certified candidates for the same job opportunity. It also provides a career path, wherein you continue to strive to achieve higher level certifications in networking.
  5. CCNA Preparation Material:  The  Recommended material includes CISCO press books for ICND 1 and ICND 2 (latest versions). These books are easy to follow and written well for a layman to follow and understand.  It is also recommended to register as a member of the Cisco Certification Forums so that you can read fellow candidates questions, and ask your own questions regarding various topics on CCNA. You may also do some CCNA prep exams to gain extra confidence.
  6. How to use the Study Material: Before you actually start with reading books, learn to work with Binary Mathematics.
    • Get a good idea of topics involved by scanning through the entire book at first including the practice questions.
    • Install the CD that came with the book and see if any interesting software is present and go through the same
    • Practice all the chapter end questions and the lab exercises. You should be able find the answers in relatively short time as the exam is timed. It required complete understanding of the concepts.
  7. Prepare with Exam Cram: This is in the part of your study period you need to look out for any fresh material and participate in any CCNA forums. There are some cram notes available, such as CCNA exam cram. Give a quick scan on the topics provided in the exam cram, better if you could prepare your own.
  8. Time for Hands-on: In this phase, you prepare for simulation type of questions. You will be needing access to real router network or use any simulated environments such as the one provided by CCNA Netsim. Please be aware that simulation type questions take up to 15 minutes to complete. Give plenty of time to answer such questions. You need to be very careful with time, as you get only 90 minutes to answer the full exam. Work out your timing by taking some practice tests.

Good luck!