A Journey To The CCNA Certification

CCNA must sounds very familiar for those who work in IT networking field. But, whoever wants to start their Cisco Career Certification may possibly encounter some problems in determining what things should be learned or what IT Networking knowledge should be prepared in order to success in their CCNA certification exam. That’s why; I wrote my CCNA R&S (Routing and Switching) journey in order to share my experience and materials that I used during my CCNA certification journey.

Before we talk more about the tips and tricks in learning CCNA, first, I want to make some disclaimer. In this article, we don’t talk about the questions which is in CCNA exam because it violates the Cisco non-disclosure agreement policy. So, what do I want to share with you is the guide for studying CCNA certification exam.

Just for information, you must pass one of these two kinds of exam in order to get CCNA certification. The first CCNA certification exam path is you must pass Interconnecting Cisco Network Devices, Part 1 (640-822) exam and Interconnecting Cisco Network Devices, Part 2 (640-816) exam. Another CCNA certification exam path is you just only need to pass CCNA Composite (640-802) exam. The CCNA composite exam is the combination of ICND1 and ICND2 exam. You can find out more detail information about the CCNA exam syllabus on this provided link.

There are two studying paths that I want to share with you. The first, I would like to say that this is the ordinary path. In ordinary path, you will approximately spend about 5 months for preparing your CCNA exam. It’s really long but it offers several advantages such as develop the depth understanding in CCNA materials and empower both your knowledge and your skills with Cisco network devices such as router and switch.  I recommend for those who come from non-IT background to choose this ordinary path. Let me summarize the materials that you need to learn in the ordinary path:

A. Your study materials:
- CCNA Exploration including all four semesters. For those who join Cisco Networking Academy may not find some difficulties in accessing this material if they enrolled in CCNA program. But, if you are not CNA student, I will recommend you to buy this two books:

1. Interconnecting Cisco Network Devices, Part 1 (ICND1) by Steve McQuerry (Cisco Press)

2. Interconnecting Cisco Network Devices, Part 2 (ICND2) by Steve McQuerry (Cisco Press)

These two books are very comprehensive study material and offer you some essential information that you need to know in order to pass your CCNA exam. I, myself, am a Cisco Networking Academy alumni. From what I have experienced during my 5-months of CCNA preparation, I find out that this ordinary path gives much time for me to explore and learn CCNA materials from CCNA exploration as well as from other resources.

B. What you need for your CCNA lab preparation:
Packet Tracer, of course this is enough for those who has a financial limitation in building the Cisco lab. I would recommend you to use Packet Tracer 5.1 or later because it supports the features that you need to learn. But, the more important thing that we must not forget is that disadvantage and advantage in using Packet Tracer. In my opinion, packet Tracer is a simulation so it does not really offer the same experience when comparing with the real Cisco network devices. Besides, I also find out some bugs when using the packet tracer for example, super highly redundant link in switch may eventually crash the program. If you decide to create your own lab, I will share you this tutorial that I find out in networkworld.com. It’s is very comprehensive and detail. Thanks to Wendell Odom who gives the detail explanation about what kinds of Cisco router and switch you should buy for your CCNA lab.

If you are not CNA student, you will possibly find the difficulty in determining which the best materials for practicing CCNA lab topology are. Although there are many tutorials about CCNA lab topology available on internet, but information overload will bring us more confused and difficulty in absorbing those CCNA lessons. Moreover, you will not have the legal access to download the Cisco Packet Tracer software which is free and available for Cisco Academy students. 

Anyway, I have another solution for you who want to practice CCNA lab from non-Cisco  products. It is  CCNA 640-802 Network Simulator by Wendell Odom. This is one of the cheapest and best cisco network simulator that you can buy it below 100 bucks on amazon.

The second path is the quick path. Really this is the quick path that you must make sure that you have some basic of ICND1 especially understanding in IP Subnetting. I’m guess approximately 1 month in preparing your CCNA exam.

A. Your study materials:

1. CCNA Exam Prep (Exam 640-802) (2nd Edition) by Jeremy Cioara. Reading this book is very existing and relax, because Jeremy Cioara can bring up the CCNA lesson in an enjoyable way and less of IT jargon. This is really help us to comprehending CCNA topics. Moreover, you can also find out Jeremy’s CCNA training videos at CBTNuggets.com.

2. CCNA Quick Reference Sheets by Eric Rivard
This is one of my hot stuff. I still remember, I read this book at H-4 before my CCNA exam, and I find out that this book review all the exam topics. Oh Gosh, it saves my times from reviewing all those CCNA exploration or two heavy book  ICND1 and ICND2. So, it’s really quick reference sheet.

B. What you need for your CCNA lab preparation:

For your lab material, because you’re only have one month preparation, so what I can suggest you is CCNA 640-802 Network Simulator by Wendell Odom. In my opinion, it’s hard for you to have more time for lab. Therefore, I suggest the quick path is really for those who have a basic experience in IT Networking field and  ICND1 level knowledge.

I hope you enjoy some tips and tricks from me and the best thing that you must remember that CCNA exam is not accurately proved the capacity of test taker in my humble opinion. Because, your real skills will be tested in a real IT competitive world, so don’t cheat yourself (totally relied yourself on dump sites), or some day you will regret.

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Source: http://hermin.wordpress.com/2009/09/12/cisco-journey-part-1/