CCNA Exam Tips and Preparation

In the IT industry, the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) program is hugely popular and is in fact Cisco's most popular certification. CCNA was introduced in April 1998 and is the entry-level certification for the Cisco Career Certification Program.
Cisco’s globally recognized certifications certify the competence of Internetworking professionals in the areas of routing, switching and connectivity. And CCNA is the first step in this route.
The significance of CCNA isn’t just because it is the first step for Cisco certification, but it is in addition proof of a solid foundation in networking. It is a prerequisite for CCNP, CCDP, and CCSP certifications, and recommended for CCIP certification.

How to get the CCNA
Candidates have two paths to approach CCNA certification:
¨ a single-exam path that includes exam #640-801
¨ a two-exam path that includes exam #640-821 (Introduction to Cisco Networking Technologies, or INTRO) and exam #640-811 (Interconnecting Cisco Network Devices, or ICND).

There are no prerequisites for CCNA certification.

Exam Interface
You need to be familiar with the nature of exam and the exam interface. “Cisco Career Certifications exams includes the following test formats: multiple-choice single answer, multiple-choice multiple answer, drag-and-drop, fill-in-the-blank, and simulations. Prior to taking the exam, candidates should become familiar with how all exam types function-especially the exam simulation tool. Such practice will allow candidates to focus their exam-taking effort on the exam questions rather than how to correctly use the tools”.

Exam Focus for the 640-801
With the exam changes in the 640-801 is to ensure that only those who actually learn Cisco’s stuff and can practice it can get certified. It has made CCNA tougher but it has also increased the credibility and value of the exam. It is indeed very hard to simply cram some materials and braindumps and pass the CCNA, without being able to configure a router.
What’s the exam like? There is a heavy focus on Access Lists, Switching, Routing protocols, Subnetting and simulation. Subnetting is key in the exam. You have to know how to subnet very well. Can you subnet in your head? You really need to be comfortable with subnetting before you take the CCNA. If you have doubts start practicing now.
Practice and understand access-lists very well. What are your access-list commands and what do they do?

You need to build your speed in doing simulations. In the exam, simulations can make or mar your efforts. To prepare well you need to have access to simulators or real routers. The actual number simulation questions may vary from three to five. Essentially, the exam will test your ability to configure routers and switches in different scenarios. These scenarios are designed to test your knowledge of configuration and listing commands as well as your ability to pay attention to detail, and your ability to analyze and troubleshoot scenarios. Simulations have been noted to be slow during the exam and when switching between the simulator-based questions and the rest of the exam. Even if the simulator engine appears slow, don’t let this throw you off balance during the exam.

Time management
The test is 90 minutes. To get a good score and keep your CCNA dreams and hopes alive you must manage your time well. Determine how long you will spend on each question. Remember that you can’t go back after answering a question. This means you can’t review questions you’ve answered. As noted simulations are usually slow and will take more time. They also weigh heavily in your exam scores. So take your time on the simulations and don’t panic or rush. Note that there will be a lot of subnetting. Be able to subnet fast. OSI model, the Access lists, the Subnetting etc, questions are time consuming. But concentrate, understand the basics and be ready for calculations.

Exam Preparation for the 640-801
How you prepare for CCNA depends largely on your current knowledge and experience of networking and your chosen certification preparation option. Options include instructor-led training, e-simulations, practical labs, practice tests, study materials, etc. Books and simulations are the most popular preparation tools. However, for efficiency and effectiveness, if you have the funds and time, it is advisable to include instructor-led training in your preparations.
While there are new books on the market now for 640-801, note that your existing 607 study guides and materials are still useful, as long as you’re aware of the old and new content and you can make up for the new content.


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