CCNA Exam Tips and Tricks

Cisco CCNA certification has become increasingly complex with questions from multiple knowledge domains and topics. The following are some recommendations to score your best on the new CCNA exam. 

CCNA Practice Tests

Practice tests are essential and when designed properly should verify what you have learned and your exam readiness. They are well worth the cost. You should verify your skills before going into an exam that is $300 USD. The practice tests should have labs to practice operational commands and configuration. Each practice test should include the correct percentage of questions per topic. Practice until you score at least 85% and have honed your time management skills properly.

CCNA Question Types

Multiple Choice – Select the correct answer from multiple options.

Multiple Selection – Select more than one correct answer from multiple options.

Drag and Drop –Match a list of items such as protocols for example with the correct description.

Unscored – Cisco will ask questions on the CCNA exam that are not listed with the official syllabus. They are for research purposes only and do not count toward your final exam score.

Exam Day Recommendations

  • The testing center will give you double-sided laminated paper at the beginning of the exam. Request 3-5 of them so you are not interrupting your exam.
  • There is a 15-minute tutorial before the exam starts. Use that time to create your whiteboard notes. It is a collection of facts and figures that you have for quick reference. The online testing option provides a digital whiteboard.

CCNA Whiteboard

  • Subnetting is a key aspect of the CCNA exam for a variety of questions. It is easy as well to make mistakes when converting between binary and decimal values. Write at least all class C subnets on paper when the exam starts. Include the subnetting table and binary table shown for quick conversions.
  • Don’t burn time with a question you could only guess on. Take your best guess and move on to the next question.
  • Do not click Next until you are satisfied with your answer and ready for the next question. There is no review allowed or navigation permitted to a previous question.
  • Do not waste time considering your answers from previous questions. There is no back button or end of test question review with CCNA exam.
  • Complex questions are sometimes comprised of convoluted wording, drawings and show command listings. Consider fundamentally what the question is testing.
  • Read each question a couple of times carefully (to make a well worn point). Note the subtleties with each question that Cisco employs and what the question is really asking.

CCNA Sample Question

The following is an example of wording for a typical CCNA style question.

Q. What command will verify that a router interface is operational (up/up) and responding on a router?

        A. show running-config

        B. show ip interface brief

        C. telnet

        D. ping

The key word responding is used here and that implies sending a packet to an interface and verifying that it is up.  

The command show running-config is wrong. You are at the router and can only verify the interface is configured correctly. It is an administrative command that does not verify the interface is responding to arriving packets.  

The command show ip interface brief is wrong. You are at the router so there is no send/return of packets and cannot confirm the interface is responding to arriving packets.

Telnet option is inconclusive. Device requires a Telnet configuration. You would not know if the problem was with the Telnet configuration (application layer), ACL filter (application layer) somewhere or the interface (Layer 1-Layer 3).

Ping is best answer. The ICMP packet is sent to the interface and returns with either destination unreachable or packets received to confirm the router interface is operational. You can ping any interface configured with an IPv4 address or IPv6 address.


ping 2001:DB8:3C4D:1::1

ping ipv6 2001:DB8:3C4D:1::1

ping ipv6 (extended ipv6 ping only)

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