CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) is a certification from Cisco, the world’s most famous company that manufactures and sells networking equipment. This certification helps you to become familiar with a wide range of topics, including:
- OSI and TCP/IP model
- Switches and routers
- Network utilities (ping, tracert, arp)
- IP addressing
- Routing protocols (RIP, EIGRP, OSPF)
This website will try to cover all of these topics.
How to become CCNA certified?
You can become CCNA certified in two ways:
1. by passing the CCNA 200-125 CCNA exam ($325).
2. by passing the ICND1 100-105 exam and ICND2 200-105 (165 $ each).
The CCNA 200-125 exam covers the topics from both ICND exams.
The CCNA 200-125 exam consists of 60-70 questions. The ICND exams have 45-55 questions. The highest score you can achieve on either exam is 1000. The minimum passing score is somewhere around 830.
Where to take the exam?
To take the CCNA exam you have to schedule a test appointment through Pearson VUE, an electronic testing company. Pearson VUE has many authorized testing centers throughout the world and you can locate a test center in your vicinity.
The exams are available in English and Japanese and lasts for 90 minutes, unless you aren’t a native speaker of any of these two languages. If that is the case, you will get a 30 minutes time extension. After finishing the test you will immediately get the results. Cisco provides just the basic information about your score, so you can’t be sure which questions you got right or wrong!
Preparing for the exam
There are several ways in which you can prepare yourself for the exam:
- attending a CCENT or CCNA course – Cisco courses are offered by various educational companies and institutions. You can use this online tool to locate an academy in your vicinity. These courses usually lasts a couple of months and include a lot of hands-on activities. Prices vary depending on your location, but the courses can be quite costly (up to $1000).
- self-study with textbooks and online courses – another popular way to prepare a CCENT exam is by self-studying. There are lots of high-quality resources online and tools such as GNS3 or Packet Tracer that enable you to study without actually buying expensive equipment. Of couse, this website is one of these high-quality online resources :-). Many people use website like Ebay or Amazon to find CCNA kits that will enable them to work on real equipment.
- concentrated boot camps – intensive, week-long live classes that cover months of materials in just five days. Not recommened for beginners.
On the ICND1 exam, you can expect to be questioned about topics such as the operation of IP data networks, LAN switching technologies, IPv6, IP routing protocols, IP services such as DNS, DHCP, TFTP, and NTP, basic troubleshooting… On the ICND2 exam, expect questions regarding configuration and troubleshooting of STP, routing protocols, QoS concepts… The CCNA exam includes the questions from both ICND exams.
Cisco has published the general guidelines for the content likely to be included on the exam:
Types of questions
There are seven types of questions on the CCNA exam:
multiple-choice single answer – choose only a single correct answer:
multiple-choice multiple answer – choose more than one answer:
fill-in-the-blank – this type of question requires you to type the correct answer:
testlet – you get a description of the scenario and need to answer a couple of multiple-choise questions related to the scenario:
drag-and-drop – drag and drop items to the proper categories
simulated lab – a lab scenario where you can access and configure the devices. You job is to fix the problem with the configuration by reconfiguring the devices.
simlet – combines sim and testlet question types. You see a network topology, a lab scenario, and can access the devices. However, like a testlet, you also see multiple-choice questions based on the information contained in the scenario:
Cisco offers a free online tool that demonstrates the exam’s user interface:
The CCNA certification expire after three years! To recertify, pass one of the following exams before the certificate expiration date:
- any current Associate-level exam except for ICND1 exam
- any current 642-XXX Professional-level or any 300-XXX Professional-level exam
- any current 642-XXX Cisco Specialist exam (excluding Sales Specialist exams or MeetingPlace Specialist exams, Implementing Cisco TelePresence Installations (ITI) exams, Cisco Leading Virtual Classroom Instruction exams, or any 650 online exams)
- any current CCIE Written Exam
- the current CCDE Written Exam OR current CCDE Practical Exam
- the Cisco Certified Architect (CCAr) interview AND the CCAr board review to extend lower certifications
Your CCENT certificate will be renewed after you pass the next-level exams. For example, the CCNA Routing and Switching certification is a step above the CCENT certification. Passing the CCENT exam will extend your CCENT and CCNA.