Cisco has added performance-based labs to CCNA and CCNP certification exams. They are similar to older simulation labs from previous exams.
Cisco recommends spending 5-7 minutes on each lab. It is a mistake to spend 10+ minutes on any single simulation and have to rush through the remaining questions.
Manage your time well and realize it is a long exam. There are partial points awarded for getting some lab questions correct within each simulation. Note as well that you cannot review ANY previous questions whether multiple choice, drag and drop, or simulation labs after clicking the Next button.
CCNA exam typically includes 4 performance-based labs per exam with 3-4 questions each. There are approximately 100 questions on an exam that has no labs. If your exam start page indicates only 90 questions for example, then you have simulation labs. Notice that only four points are assigned to the configuration lab. Cisco is not weighting labs that much and proof again not to burn a lot of time with them.
The split window user interface (UI) design shows lab topology and command-line interface (CLI) in different windows. Cisco lab software is based on real IOS now instead of IOS simulation used with older sim test software. Navigation buttons and CLI is similar to real IOS software.
Simulation Lab Question Types
Configuration Sim Labs
This simulation type is comprised of multiple configuration tasks based on a network topology. You could be asked to configure trunking between neighbor switches and allow only specific VLANs. You could also have questions that require you to configure OSPF routing, advertise a single LAN subnet only, and modify network type.
Analyzing Show Command Output
This simulation will ask test-takers to determine the operational status of network protocols and configuration settings. This will require you to select and issue the correct show commands to answer test questions. For example, identify the OSPF designated router (DR) for a network topology, or what trunking protocol is assigned to a network interface. Other examples include identifying the subnet mask on an interface, or NTP stratum level of a router. Test-takers do not have access to show running-config command for this lab type.
Break/Fix Lab (CCNP Only)
This simulation type will ask you to analyze the running configuration script and identify errors based on specific questions. For example, the task could ask you to identify problems with an EtherChannel, or identify errors preventing BGP neighbor adjacency. Troubleshooting oriented questions are designed to align with the CCNP exam syllabus.
How to Prepare For CCNA Performance-Based Labs
CCNA 200-301 Practice Tests include performance-based labs similar to the real exam. Review the official CCNA exam syllabus and note configuration topics. Make sure you can configure all exam syllabus topics listed where configuration keyword is used. Exam tips and tricks has essential information on how to prepare for Cisco certification exams.
Create a list of all show commands for all CCNA topics listed with the syllabus. Practice with each of them, analyze output, and learn what operational information is provided. Practice with troubleshooting labs for CCNP and learn how to identify configuration errors with interfaces and various network protocols.