Are You Ready For CCNA?

Cisco CCNA exam has become increasingly difficult with theoretical and practical lab questions. There is a high pass score of around 82% and an average fail rate of 80%+ on first attempt. That is for an exam fee where the cost is USD 325.00 and as mentioned the fail rate is astounding. Why do so many candidates fail the exam and have to attempt it multiple times?

CCNA Preparation

The primary cause of an 80%+ fail rate on CCNA exam is inadequate preparation. Candidates new to the networking field often have little experience with most of the topics. There is a strategy that works best when preparing for a certification exam. The range of topics tested on the exam is extensive and most network administrators won’t have knowledge of all domains or recent experience. If you have worked at a company for 3 years doing troubleshooting and support of access switches, your exposure to different protocols and skill set is limited. Another problem is how to remember what was learned from a course or identify what is more relevant from less relevant.

The exam becomes nothing more than a test run if you have not properly prepared. The same applies to experienced candidates who have practical experience and do not perform as well on theoretical questions.

Read the Exam Blueprint

Cisco publishes a list of all knowledge domains and exam topics covered with the current exam. They can ask you questions on any of the topics listed. Students often don’t do something as basic as reading an exam blueprint. You have to manage your own skills development to some extent. Make sure you can answer fundamental questions for each domain and topic. There are percentages as well for each domain so know what is more important.If you have little or no work experience then the two exam option of ICND1 + ICND2. It is somewhat easier, takes a little longer and costs the same.

CCNA 200-125 Exam Scoring

15% Network Fundamentals
21% LAN Switching Technologies
23% Routing Technologies
10% WAN Technologies
10% Infrastructure Services
11% Infrastructure Security
10% Infrastructure Management

Study Guide

Select a study guide that has relevant topics only and what is required for the exam. Your time is valuable and there is already enough to learn. Start with network fundamentals, subnetting, routing and switching concepts, protocol operation and design rules. In fact, everything you learn from study guide and configuration labs is foundational knowledge required for simulation questions.

Lab Training

CCNA is an entry level certification that tests your practical skills. You have to know how to troubleshoot, read configuration scripts reasonably well and draw on knowledge of networking concepts for simulation questions. Troubleshooting is a learned skill and simulation questions are worth approximately 40% of all exam points.

There are typically three areas of expertise or skills to acquire as you prepare for CCNA certification.

Start with configuration labs based on all CCNA topics that is available as a workbook with packet tracer. The guide should step you through how to configure from global commands to complex routing and switching topologies. They should have command/s that show you how to verify the running configuration as well.

Then proceed to troubleshooting labs and learn how to do root cause analysis. It is sometimes called break/fix and requires you to resolve and verify that network connectivity is restored. Learn commands to verify operational status and end-to-end network connectivity. The answer key should describes all steps required to fix problem. Labs based on Packet Tracer are recommended. The simulator is free and more than adequate for CCNA study.

Simulation labs are similar to actual CCNA pattern questions. There is a lab topology with several errors to troubleshoot and a multiple choice question for each error to answer. In some cases you are asked to configure a network device based on some requirements or run show commands to report on device configuration and operational status. The actual exam is comprised of 3-5 simulation labs with multiple questions per lab. Any workbook should include an answer key with troubleshooting steps to restore network connectivity.

Summary Notes

Consolidate your training from multiple sources with summary notes for your last mile review. There is alot of information to review and not everything is as relevant. You want to hit the ground running and not waste time doing your review while taking the exam. Start summary notes with protocol operation, design rules, subnetting tables, common root cause lists, common configurations, top 25 IOS commands, reading a routing table, ACL rules and network fundamentals factoids.

Practice Tests

The purpose of any well designed practice test is to verify what you have learned from your previous experience and/or training sources. Practice tests should improve your test-taking skills with questions similar to the actual exam and duration. Learn how to effectively manage your time during a 90 minute exam. Each test should include all topics with official percentages assigned. There is a lot that you can learn from practice tests with proper explanations.

Practice tests are essential and when designed properly should verify what you have learned and whether you are ready for the exam. They are well worth the cost. You go into an exam that costs USD 325.00 and do not know if you are ready for it. Each test should use same pattern as the actual exam with all topics, domain percentages, same duration and number of questions.

Doing well on SIM troubleshooting questions is essential to passing the CCNA exam. All practice tests should have SIM and other troubleshooting type questions. Cisco CCNA exam includes practical SIM labs with questions based on a network topology.

Test your knowledge and prepare for CCNA 200-125 exam with Udemy practice tests w/SIM questions.

Test your knowledge and prepare for ICND1 100-105 exam with Udemy practice tests w/SIM questions.

Test-Taking Skills

Learn test-taking skills with recommendations to avoid common mistakes made during the exam. I have read comments where candidates have clicked Next on a SIM lab question not knowing it submits answer with no review or allow navigation to a previous question. You can waste a lot of time and alternatively not spend enough time on higher weighted questions. There are quirks to know with any vendor exam how to do an effective review.

CCNA exam has improved over the years and well worth pursuing for career advancement and skills development.

CCNA Virtual Lab Rack

CCNA does not require you spend a lot of money on a physical data rack at home with routers and switches. Cisco Packet Tracer is free and can be downloaded with registration at Cisco Network Academy. It is based on the same IOS software used with routers and switches for a simulated lab environment that is easy to use. There are lab guides available based on Packet Tracer platform for CCNA study.

Cisco VIRL is a subscription-based service that provides a virtual rack where you can configure most Cisco devices and do extensive proof of concept testing. It is really not necessary for CCNA however.

GNS3 is virtualized lab environment based on open-source software with IOS images deployed to virtual machines (VMs). It is free however there are licensing issues to consider. You can only use IOS software on router platforms. The work around is to add a switch module to a router for example to enable switching. GNS3 as with VIRL is suited for complex configurations and CCNP / CCIE certification.

Packet Tracer 7.0

1. Register with Cisco Network Academy

2. Download Packet Tracer

3. Install with Default Settings

4. Configuration Labs

5. Troubleshooting Labs

6. CCNA SIM Labs   

Start with Configuration Labs

CCNA Labs: Routing and Switching is a configuration workbook designed to provide lab skills necessary for the CCNA certification exam. Learn how to configure and verify network connectivity for all exam topics.

There is coverage of all topics required for ICND1 100-105 exam, ICND2 200-105 exam and 200-125 exam. Packet tracer ready labs start from basic global configuration to more complex routing and switching topics.

Practice your troubleshooting skills with an added CCNA break/fix lab that has various configuration errors for you to troubleshoot and resolve. IPv6 addressing and WAN protocols are included as well based on CCNA v3 exam guidelines. The workbook is portable to labs based on Cisco physical equipment or GNS3.

Packet Tracer
Lab Conventions

Initial Global Configuration
Lab 1-1: Global Commands
Lab 1-2: System Management

LAN Switching Technologies
Lab 2-1: Create VLANs
Lab 2-2: Access Ports
Lab 2-3: Static Trunking
Lab 2-4: EtherChannel
Lab 2-5: Rapid STP
Lab 2-6: PortFast
Lab 2-7: Root Bridge Selection
Lab 2-8: VLAN Trunking Protocol

Routing Technologies
Lab 3-1: IPv4 Addressing
Lab 3-2: Static Route
Lab 3-3: Default Route
Lab 3-4: Floating Static Route
Lab 3-5: Subnetting
Lab 3-6: Multi-Area OSPFv2
Lab 3-7: Multi-Area OSPFv3
Lab 3-8: EIGRP for IPv4
Lab 3-9: EIGRP for IPv6
Lab 3-10: RIPv2
Lab 3-11: Inter-VLAN Routing
Lab 3-12: External BGP (eBGP)

IPv6 Addressing
Lab 4-1: Link-Local
Lab 4-2: Autoconfiguration
Lab 4-3: Global Unicast
Lab 4-4: IPv6 Default Route

Infrastructure Security
Lab 5-1: Device Passwords
Lab 5-2: Port Security
Lab 5-3: Named ACL
Lab 5-4: Extended ACL-1
Lab 5-5: Extended ACL-2
Lab 5-6: DHCP Snooping

Infrastructure Services
Lab 6-1: Port Address Translation
Lab 6-2: Static NAT
Lab 6-3: Hot Standby Router Protocol

Infrastructure Maintenance
Lab 7-1: Managing Switches
Lab 7-2: Managing Routers
Lab 7-3: Password Recovery
Lab 7-4: IOS Upgrade

Supplemental Tools
CCNA SIM: Routing and Switching
IOS Show Command Reference
CCNA Configuration Reference


*** What is a CCNA SIM? ***

CCNA exam includes practical labs with multiple questions that ask you to troubleshoot and resolve network connectivity issues.

Troubleshooting and simulation questions now account for approximately 40% of all exam points.

CCNA SIM Labs: Routing and Switching is comprised of all new and updated topics for practice with CCNA exam style simulation questions. There is coverage of ICND1 100-105 Exam, ICND2 200-105 Exam and CCNA 200-125 composite exam. The answer key for each lab describe the troubleshooting steps for root cause analysis to resolve and/or configure network connectivity. CCNA show commands and IOS configuration examples are provided as well for reference before taking the actual exam.

The following SIM is comprised of five switching questions. Verify the configuration and operational status of network devices with IOS show commands and answer each question.

Download and Start Lab: https://www.cisconetsolutions.com/switching.zip

Question 1:

Refer to the switching lab. What port/s are currently trunking on switch-1?

A. Fa0/1
B. Fa0/2
C. none
D. Fa0/1 and Fa0/2
E. Fa0/3

Question 2:

Refer to the switching lab. What is the IOS version on switch-3?

A. 12.2(25)FX
B. 12.2(25)FC1
C. 12.2
D. 12.2(5)FX

Question 3:

Refer to the switching lab. Select any neighbor/s that are actively connected to switch-3?

A. none
B. switch-1
C. switch-2
D. switch-1 and switch-2

Question 4:

Refer to the switching lab. What VLAN is assigned to switch-2 interface Fa0/4?

B. VLAN 10
C. VLAN 11
D. VLAN 12
E. none

Question 5:

Refer to the switching lab. What is the administrative and operational mode of switch-3 interface Fa0/3?

A. trunk
B. access
C. dynamic
D. disabled
E. private


CCNA Whiteboard

CCNA certification has become increasingly difficult and requires proper preparation to pass the exam. It is important to learn fundamentals and summarize what was learned multiple times as exam day approaches.

CCNA Whiteboard is a study tool designed for quick summary of protocol operation, concepts, features, addressing, design rules and configuration. There is a systems troubleshooting section as well with root cause analysis for common network problems. It is difficult to adequately summarize key information from months of course training and books. The exam review is made easier to refresh your knowledge and hit the ground running.

• CCNA Whiteboard Study Tool
• Protocol Operation and Design Rules
• Concepts, Features and Fundamentals
• Troubleshooting Root Cause Analysis
• Simulation Questions Approach
• Exam Day Last Mile Review
• Common Configuration Examples