Exam tips and preparation: Cisco CCNA certification
The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification is the first level on the cisco certification path. In order to gain this certification, you’ll need to complete one of the following testing options: either passing both the ICND1 and ICND2 exams or passing the longer CCNA 640-802 exam.
The CCNA certification has received a Gold certification from the IPv6 Forum’s Education Certification Program. This means that if you gain this certification, you can display the IPv6 logo, which shows that you have attained IPv6 knowledge and skills.
The CCNA cert is very well known in the industry and is in demand. It’s also a stepping stone onto the more powerful Cisco certifications. The average salary is £38,000 in the UK according to itjobswatch.co.uk.
CCNA ICND1 Exam
If your only interested in gaining a Cisco Certified Entry Network Technician (CCNET) certification, you’ll only need to pass the ICND1 exam.
This exam covers the basic topics related to modern networks, this includes:
The exam also covers the protocol knowledge of LANS, WANs, hardware basics, and subnetting. It also introduces the Cisco Command Line Interface (CLI) which is used to configure, monitor and trouble shoot problems on Cisco devices.
It will consist of 40 to 50 questions. They can be multiple-choice, drag-and-drop, and hands-on sims, simlets and testlets. Unlike other exams, you’ll not be able to skip questions and go back later. The exam time limit is 90 minutes.
CCNA ICND2 Exam
This exam picks up from where the ICND1 exam left off, with more depth and a larger number of configurations.
This exam covers more advanced topics related to modern networks, this includes:
Advanced LAN switching – such as Spanning Tree Protocols, VLANs and VLAN Trunking
Advanced IP subnetting – including variable length subnet masks
Advanced routing protocol – like EIGRP and OSPF
It will consist of 40 to 50 questions. They can be multiple-choice, drag-and-drop, and hands-on sims, simlets and testlets. Just like ICND2 exam, you’ll not be able to skip questions and go back later. The exam time limit is 90 minutes.
CCNA 640-802 Exam
As mentioned before, you’ll have the option to take this longer exam instead of taking the ICND1 and ICND2 exams.
This exam covers topics related to modern networks, this includes:
IP Routing and addressing
Cisco router and switch CLI
Spanning Tree Protocols
VLANs and VLAN Trunking
RIP, EIGRP, OSPF
It will consist of 45 to 50 questions. They can be multiple-choice, drag-and-drop and hands-on sims, simlets and testlets. Just like ICND exams, you’ll not be able to skip questions and go back later. The exam time limit is 90 minutes.
Tips for difficult areas
The following topics are the ones that seem to be the most difficult for students, so here are some tips to deal with them:
IP Subnetting – This is challenging because it is hard to interpret the terminology, mastering the mathematics behind it, such as remembering which processes to use and knowing how to use them and applying the IP addressing and routing concepts while working with the math.
Time – This is crucial to take care of. As already mentioned, you will not have the option to skip a question and go back to it later making each question more time consuming. The sim, simlets and testlets also take a very long time.
Hands-on – The sim, simlets and testlets require you to have a good understanding of hands-on application of typing commands on Cisco router or CLI.
Variable Length Subnet Masks (VLSM) – This introduces the possibility of subnets with overlapped address ranges which are not easily identified.
Spanning Tree Protocol – As most people have STP enabled and it works, so there isn’t much need of understanding it, so you must try harder to fully understand it.
Access Control Lists (ACLs) –Knowing how to match TCP and UDP port numbers, both source and destination can be quite difficult.
Before you start these exams, it is recommended that you practice using commands on the CLI. Become familiar with the configurations and spend time understanding the router and switch commands. It is also recommended that you practice subnetting. You should also take advantage of the Cisco learning network (learningnetwork.cisco.com).
We recommend reading the CCENT/CCNA ICND1 640-822 Official Exam Certification Guide (ISBN: 1-58720-425-8) and the CCNA ICND2 640-822 Official Cert Guide (ISBN: 1-58720-435-5). Also, try and join a study group to study for the exam. Discussing the topics with others will help you remember the material.