Passing CCNA Introduction to networks exam
Cisco CCNA certification is the most well known computer networking certification in the IT industry.
To prepare for this certification, the Cisco Academy Curriculum is recommended. It’s actually recommended to anyone who wants to learn about computer networking. It is the best foundation for learning about network communication protocols, network addressing including IPv4 and IPv6, subnetting, routing, switching, VLANs and more.
The Cisco Academy offers 4 classes that together map to the Cisco CCNA certification exam. Opportunely, my school offers enrollment to the Cisco Academy, where all students have access to online curriculum materials as well as the latest version of Packet Tracer (7.0), a great tool for creating simulated networked environments. So, I took the online course, and made my first step towards the CCNA certification: I passed the CCNA 1 _ Introduction to networks exam .
I am sharing in this article some tips on passing the CNNA 1 exam . If you are an ESPRIT student too, I made this video to help you prepare depending on the networking class you are currently taking at school.
All of the official course materials are available through the Cisco Academy website through their learning management system. This includes the complete text, the Lab Manual book, the Packet Tracer software program, interactive activities, multiple choice exams, and plenty of labs with complete instructions. If you prefer a paper copy of the text you can purchase one online from Cisco Press or Amazon.
Besides, you can use a bunch of other resources on the net , such as the the Pluralsight courses , and many other blogs and tutorials related to each of the eleven chapters on the official textbook.
Study the official textbook effectively
You do not need to know what each chapter of the companion guide is about and just pass to practicing some Packet Tracer activities to consider you ‘prepared for the ccna1 exam’ . You need, after all, to cover each topic in that book, and know how and when to relate to it when taking the exam or, when practicing any simulated or real network configuration. To make it easier for you to study this book, I suggest you follow those tips :
• Pursue the following order when preparing the eleven chapters of the book :
· chapter 1 to chapter 3: the first chapter introduces you to ‘what a network is’ , the second chapter is about network operating system , and the third introduces you network protocols. Unlike the other eight chapters, these three present general explications of the basic concepts you need in order to study the rest of the book. You go by them first, then you can reorder the rest differently.
· chapter 4, chapter 6, chapter 7 and chapter 10 : each of these four chapters is about a specific layer of the OSI model. They dig into the details of each layer; its protocols and functions.
· chapter 5: after getting ready with the three first chapters and detailing each OSI layer apart. You can know more about the Ethernet technology and its characteristics, before passing to addressing and subnetting.
· chapter 8 and chapter 9: you can not study subnetting without studying addressing, and vise versa. I suggest you study those too chapters together.
· chapter 11: finally comes this chapter, it can be studied apart. It’s about different topics such as network security measures, IOS configuration files, and Integrated routing services.
• Get the Lab Manual with your Companion Guide book and do all practice activities and labs. And, do not escape them or practice them all at once later after finishing all chapters (as I did, and I admit it was stupid !). Simply practice each lab when you find it mentioned in the companion guide.
• Make summary sheets for each chapter . It helps a lot since chapters contain massive amounts of definitions, configurations and concepts. It also helps you revise right before the exam.
I am sharing the summary sheets I prepared to pass my exam ! You can download them here.
(Actually this file contains summaries for all chapters except chapter 10 and 6. I printed those two chapters, with the summary file, and examined them all using highlighters. Yeh! highlighters ! being a visual learner and an IT student is not funny. at all !)
Use supplemental resources
It’s obvious you will use the resources on Cisco networking academy. You can find quizzes and hands on skills exams. Besides, I suggest you look for online videos, they make it easier to understand some fine topics. This youtube playlist was so helpful to me, check it out. And speaking about YouTube, it’s the best place on the net to learn how to use Packet Tracer.
Apart from videos, you can rely on blogs and articles, or even forums and communities. Actually , Cisco has a very active certification support community that can provide specific advice as issues arise.
Don’t cram ! It’s not a good option
Go through all.of.the.topics in the textbook and learn them, go through every configuration there is and figure out how and why it works. Do not even think about cramming (or missing) a part no matter how obvious it seems to be. When assessing your own readiness for testing, you tend to rely on how familiar you feel with the subject (you tell yourself ‘ If I just read it I will get it, and as it’s a QCM that I am going to pass, I won’t get troubled about this’). But familiarity with information is a bad predictor for being able to recall it, specially if it’s a networking-related information ! Trust me when I tell you ‘cramming does not work‘.
Notice that I didn’t included this in the ‘Prepare’ section. Because, practicing is a fundamental step to pass this exam. You can not pass without preparing , and you will not pass without practicing.
The minimum practice required is to perform the labs presented in the textbook using Cisco Packet Tracer.
In my case, I had the chance to work within a team of 6 students on a network simulation project for a whole semester : mentors gave us the requirements specifications and we went through all the work, from designing the network subnets, to deciding on the hardware(routers, switches and network media) and IOS releases that meets our needs. We created a network mockup and we defined the needed services and protocols . Then, we passed to the “implementation” of our network (using few switches and fewer hosts !), and I remember we used GNS3 as a simulator.
Well, I am not writing all that to tell you ‘ you can not pass if you don’t work on network simulation team project ‘ ! Definitely not ! But, the point was to let you know what you could learn by practicing.
To practice you could simply install Packet Tracer and perform all of the labs on the textbook, or check on the tutorials I talked about in part 2 of ‘Prepare’ section .
Preparing for any test can be stressful, and Cisco’s CCNAs are no exception. No matter how much studying you’ve done, it won’t be of much use if you’re tired or distracted. The best thing you can do to prepare is to get plenty of sleep, and go into your exams as relaxed and confident as possible.
You can also try to mentally prepare yourself, it works well for me ! firmly decide and believe that you will pass the test and you will pass it ! Also, follow all the usual tips on passing any exam (or certification exams in particular, because those are a bit more rough), such as managing your time, considering keywords and never panicking.
This is only half the battle !
You passed your CCNA Introduction to networks exam and you have a rigorous understanding of networking’s basics. But, it takes dedication for you to sink in the knowledge you learnt so that you can perform up to the standards. Specially if you are aiming for a job in networking field. You must pass the other three CCNA exams, and most importantly you must keep practicing what you learnt, even if you are not involved in a networking-related job or studies .
Finally, if you are interesting in taking other IT certifications, you can check this section of my blog where I share the details of preparing to and taking my certifications exams.