Ray Winder On How He Earned His CCNA

We asked Ray Winder a former student of ours what was the secret to his success in earning his A+, Network+, Security+ and CCNA. Ray replied to us with some interesting encouragement and tips for us all based on his experience.

"To those of you who are interested in Cisco certification or some other technology I encourage you not to give up on your goal or dream.    I am an older dislocated worker and started all over again around the time many are ending their careers.

I went back and attended school several times at night and during the day and earned my A+, Network +, Security +, and now my CCNA.    My next step will be CCNA Security and perhaps IPV6, and CCDA if I can handle the study time.
  
Reading material can be difficult at times, especially something like Cisco.    The material can be dry and does not flow easily.  I class I sat in front of the computer for days on end editing and putting commands in on the CLI sometimes not knowing what I was doing, but doing it anyway.   Some of it sank it due to its repetitive nature.   Most of it is so complex it requires substantial foundation and a way for it to be all tied together.    Various routing protocols and how they can work together or not.    For me I had little dialogue with any instructor and no one I could easily exchange ideas and questions with.   

I came across several Cisco learning sites,  www.internetworktraining.com  was one of them.     I was skeptical at first but Nik kept sending me these little daily questions which I regularly answered.     It wasn’t long before I realized I was getting more answers right than wrong.     I had paid for other online training which was good but sometimes put me to sleep while watching it.     One day Nik ran a special for his training package and I decided to dive into it.    It wasn’t long before I was listening to videos every chance I got and doing questions ad nauseam.     Actually, I enjoy doing questions as it has always helped me find out where I needed to do more work, in what areas.     Questions always lead to more questions which help me study.    If I came across something I wasn’t sure of and wanted more in depth information I would go to Wikipedia or Cisco online and read up further.   

In reviewing for my CCNA exam I realized I needed to be secure in a lot of areas.    I answered questions on STP, RSTP, PVST, VLAN’s, EIGRP, ACL’s, OSPF etc.    Some of these were easier for me than others.    As much as you might not like it study what you have the most difficulty with and go from there.    For me STP and RSTP were very challenging and still are but I spent time studying them and it was a good thing too.  If you sit for the exam you probably will see multiple questions on them.  
When I first began doing questions on Nik’s site I was getting 60% and 70% which was quite discouraging as I had already been in a class for a year and had earned my CCENT.     I was watching the videos as well and the information began coming together as he explained many things that I had not properly understood previously.  
 
Watch videos, do questions and study what you are weak in.   Yes, Nik’s ICND2 cheat sheet is very good to review as well.    Those are the things that helped do it for me.    I wish I had spent more time in Packet Tracer that is the only thing I would have done differently, but the time it took to set up the networks seemed more of a distraction at the time, than productive.   

I’m sorry if this is a little long but it has been a long and winding road of sorts.   

Now on to the next study and hopefully employment that will track with what I have been studying.
Good luck to you all in your studies.   

Know if I can do it, then you definitely can."

Ray Winder
A+, Network +, Security +, CCNA

Bill Davis's CCNA Success Secrets

"I understood subnetting well enough that I could do it in my head, quickly" ~ Bill Davis

Our latest CCNA graduate shares his experience with studying and passing his CCNA exam.

1.) A lot of people never know if they are ready to sit the exam, what advice would you give them?

For me to feel that I had a complete understanding, at  least at a CCNA level, of the information I was studying I needed to practice theory and lab and utilize them together when troubleshooting (where you really learn).  If you can complete new, and challenging troubleshooting labs, you have a firm understanding of both hands on and theory.  Other than that make sure you know your subnetting.  I am not one for memorization, so I ensure that I understood subnetting well enough that I could do it in my head, quickly.

2.) Revising for the CCNA exam can be daunting due to the amount of knowledge you need to be able to recall, how did you overcome this?

Review, review, review.  I ended up utilizing 5 single subject notebooks for my studying.  As I came closer to my test date I also utilized testing applications and websites.  Utilize sites that test your abilities, not dump sites.  

3.) What kept you motivated towards your goal of becoming CCNA certified?

Looking forward to a better job and career

4.) How did you ensure you had studied enough on specific topics?

Via testing applications and test sites.

5.) What methods did you use to study for the CCNA?

I used a combination of books, videos, labs, test application and test sites.

6.) If you were to begin studying again, what would you do differently?

I would have set my test date at the beginning.  I took too long to study for my CCNA, although I did finish with a 960.

7.) What difference did our site have on your overall success?

Having questions of the day hit my inbox really was refreshing and I still utilize them daily.  In fact, I forward them to several colleagues that are contemplating studying for their tests.

Bill Davis
CCNA Certified
WAN/Internet/Security

 

Muhammed's CCNA Success Tips

Our latest CCNA success story is Muhammed Islam from England, who passed his CCNA on August 10th 2013.

We asked Muhammed what tips he could give to help other CCNA students. His answers are below...

1.) A lot of people never know if they are ready to sit the exam, what advice would you give them?
For me to be ready for the CCNA exam, I focused on studying all topics and going through questions before I booked an exam date.
That way, I was not worried about if I was ready for the exam (as I had no exam date set) and I just concentrated on studying.
Once I had a full understanding of both the subjects and questions+answers, I booked an exam date on a Saturday afternoon, so I could recap on Sat morning.

2.) Revising for the CCNA exam can be daunting due to the amount of knowledge you need to be able to recall, how did you overcome this?
I have worked with Cisco switches, routers, firewalls since 2001 in the same NHS organisation I am employed in.
I learnt everything myself from existing configs, and practising on obsolete 2503/2601/2811/2950/3550 routers/switches at home.
I did my ICND Intro back in 2005 but never completed ICND2.
For revising I had 3 weeks off work so I just spent time at my parents house studying. I watched a Kojak season 5 episode via Youtube in between - to allow my mind to rest. I also attended 6x 2hr CCNA classroom sessions but my self-studying helped me more.

3.) What kept you motivated towards your goal of becoming CCNA certified?
I was motivated by self-studying, knowing I had to complete it by 30 Sept (when the old CCNA exam retires), and praying to God for Him to help me pass first time.

4.) How did you ensure you had studied enough on specific topics?
Although I knew about some CCNA subjects (like configs, subnetting, etc), I choose to start from scratch - as these would be properly explained to me and help refresh my mind.
After each subject, I attempted as many questions on the subject. Once I studied a subject, I studied it again several days later to ensure I understood and remembered.
My PCs and phones still have CCNA bookmarks, and PC remains with console cables connected to Cisco devices.

5.) What methods did you use to study for the CCNA?

CCNA study materials I used included Todd Lamale's CCNA 7th edition. I thanked him and he replied saying he was pleased the guide helped me. I also used two CCNA dumps etc.
I was fasting in Ramadan whilst studying and I saw little TV (except Youtube Kojak season 5 episodes).
Travelling to and from work (before my 3 weeks off), I studied the PDFs on London tube to and from work.

6.) If you were to begin studying again, what would you do differently?
I would not change anything different from my studying. Right now I am studying a CCNP guide on tube to and from work.
I rarely watch TV now and I still set my Sky box to record for me to watch late evenings. That way, my daytime (outside of work) I use to study my CCNP.
Any website, PDF guide, router/switch I try to find time to study and learn. This helps me concentrate and not waste time on not studying.

7.) What difference did our site have on your overall success?
Your website is always useful and I enjoy reading its emails including CCNA daily question.
I remember one email you wrote about you being unemployed and using the time to get your CCNA and setup your company.
It shows you were motivated to doing something useful (whilst being unemployed) and achieving success.

I would like to setup an IT training centre (including CCNA and Microsoft) in my home country Bangladesh and your success story does help me.

Muhammed Islam
CCNA

Advice from a CCNA Graduate

We asked our latest CCNA graduate TJ Zimmer about his journey to becoming a CCNA for the second time after letting his CCNA lapse over 9 years ago.

1.) A lot of people never know if they are ready to sit the exam, what advice would you give them?
Set a date, study the simulation examples, take a lot of practice exams, and when you are scoring 85% on the exams you will be ready.  Distractions will come and if you aren't ready then push the date.  It is cheaper to push the date and pass the exam then not, rush the exam, fail the exam and have to take it over again.

2.) Revising for the CCNA exam can be daunting due to the amount of knowledge you need to be able to recall, how did you overcome this?
I originally took my exam over 12 years ago and let it expire.  So there was so much more information to grasp.  Repetition on areas that I was weak was very helpful.  If I studied something I wasn't to sure on I would go over that area extra.

3.) What kept you motivated towards your goal of becoming CCNA certified?
Working in IT, people around me were great encouragement in getting the cert.  Also my wife was a huge support in pushing me to succeed, especially since I didn't pass the test the first, second or third time around.

4.) How did you ensure you had studied enough on specific topics?
When I took the practice exams it would notify me of the areas I didn't grasp.  Also taking the exam and failing showed me the areas that Cisco likes to focus on for the exam.  So those were areas I paid special attention too.

5.) What methods did you use to study for the CCNA?
I had books, instructional videos, a Boot Camp, and practice exams.

6.) If you were to begin studying again, what would you do differently?
Make sure I could dedicate more time without interruption.  When you have a full time job and a family it can be difficult to carve out the time.  My family was very supportive.

7.) What difference did our site have on your overall success?
Internetwork Training had great practice questions and theory to follow.  Highly recommend using and the resources that are available.

TJ Zimmer (CCNA)
Senior Network Engineer - Voice

CCNA Exam Advice

Our latest CCNA graduate, Michael Tyler from Ontario, used our website to cram for his CCNA exam after enrolling in Cisco's Networking Academy at a local college. We asked him a few questions about his experience that we get asked all the time here at Internetwork Training HQ.


1.) A lot of people never know if they are ready to sit the exam, what advice would you give them?
You only get out what you put in. I'm 42 years old and it has taken me over one year studying in class. It's a lot of work but it's worth it.
I did a lot of practice tests online for free, I went over them again and again, I also played the commands in my mind over and over.
I have been told, and it's true, you will know when you are ready, you'll have that feeling when it happens and it's good.

2.) Revising for the CCNA exam can be daunting due to the amount of knowledge you need to be able to recall, how did you overcome this?
Keep going back to old labs and re-doing them. Practice, practice, practice, if you realy want this you can make it happen.

3.) What kept you motivated towards your goal of becoming CCNA certified?

My job. I don't work in IT just yet, I'm a die polisher and there is no moving up or moving on unless I make something happen and I like networking.

4.) How did you ensure you had studied enough on specific topics?
Be honest, the practice tests will give you a good idea of where to study more. Try to explain to a friend the process of what your doing at the time, by teaching someone else you will reinforce the information you know. You can not do enough sub-netting practice.

5.) What methods did you use to study for the CCNA?
I enrolled in the Cisco Networking Academy at Humber College in Toronto, so I studied in class and online and with the Cisco Press books ICND1 and ICND2. I created a home lab with two switches at layer 2 and two layer 3 switches and five routers, one being a frame relay router.

6.) If you were to begin studying again, what would you do differently?
I would not go through the Cisco Networking Academy. This was not because of the course itself, but because the course teachers and pricing changed during the course which had a detrimental effect.

7.) What difference did our site have on your overall success?
The practice tests, flash cards and videos were indispensable.

Michael Tyler
CCNA Certified Engineer
Brampton Ontario, Canada

CCNA Study Advice


"Studying the CCNA itself is more conceptual and requires your complete attention to develop your skills about networks."
~ Jamshaid Riaz

We asked one of our biggest fans Jamshaid Riaz, CCNA graduate and Network Support Engineer at an ISP in Melbourne, Australia some questions about how he achieved success at the CCNA.

1.) A lot of people never know if they are ready to sit the exam, what advice would you give them?
"Finish reading your CCNA book first before attempting any papers etc as studying the CCNA itself is more conceptual and requires your complete attention to develop your skills about networks. Continuous practice is the key to be successful in this exam. Also, If you are good at sub-netting and can resolve the hardest sub-netting problems within 20 seconds then you are ready for the exams."

2.) Revising for the CCNA exam can be daunting due to the amount of knowledge you need to be able to recall, how did you overcome this?
"Best to do the quizzes and labs practice off and on, on regular basis after you clear the exams that will keep your knowledge fresh all times. Like I have many smart phone software downloaded on my phone, even books, so its always in my hand whenever I need them."

3.) What kept you motivated towards your goal of becoming CCNA certified?
"My regular self study, consistency and commitment were the key elements which motivated me toward my goal of becoming CCNA certified."

4.) How did you ensure you had studied enough on specific topics?
"I had done thorough studies and gone through Internetworktraining website for quizzes, games, Flash Cards, Cheat Sheet and videos and CCNA Book. Last but not the least, Cisco Packet tracer, GNS3 and internetworktraining Labs for router are great help to get your hands dirty with network practice."

5.) What methods did you use to study for the CCNA?
"I made a plan for 8 - 12 Weeks of self-study, finished the basic concepts and made the list of the hard topics from each chapter or topic and start practicing the hardest parts on regular basis. Mind you it's not easy, it is a full brain drain, but it is achievable if your concepts are clear about each topic."

6.) If you were to begin studying again, what would you do differently?
"I passed the CCNA exam in Feb 2012 and continuously visiting the Internetwork Training website since then. My advice about studying again, read all the topics and practice labs and do quizzes will be enough to pass in the exams. Main thing is the fundamental concepts about each topic."   

7.) What difference did our site have on your overall success?
"Basically, other than the books study, I found this website helped me in retaining the quick fundamental concepts about the topics covered in CCNA, like small definitions, Keywords, flash cards, Games, Labs and quizzes. This site was a complete help overall to cover what comes in CCNA exams. But also we need more switch labs if possible."

Jamshaid Riaz (CCNA)
Network Support Engineer
Melbourne, Australia

The Secret to CCNA Success


"The free videos you sent gave me a good head start in the learning process. I took the CCNA exam on 8th January 2013 and passed with a score of 986, it is feels real great to be CCNA."
~ Oluwapelumi Ogundijo

We asked our latest CCNA graduate Oluwapelumi Ogundijo his secret to successfully passing his CCNA exam...

1.) What methods did you use to study for the CCNA?

"I had a two-weeks instructor led training program followed by an intensive self study."

2.) What skills did you find most useful during the exam?

"Analytical, quick reasoning and good problem solving skills as the questions were framed in real life scenarios."

3.) If you were to give some tips to a friend what would you tell them?

"To combine self study with some kind of instructor-led program because there are some aspects of the course where the need arises for someone who has gone through it successfully to put you through."

4.) How did you find the CCNA exam? Was it hard, or was it as you expected?

"The CCNA exam is not difficult if well prepared for."

5.) What are you hoping the CCNA will help you achieve?

"I hope the CCNA will give me a good career start in the Information Technology field."

6.) If you were to begin studying again, what would you do differently?

"I would have done nothing differently because everything I did contributed in a way to my overall success."

Oluwapelumi Ogundijo
CCNA Certified Engineer


CCNA Re-Certification Tips

"I've found throughout my career that the Cisco framework applies really well when you are trying to learn another vendor" ~ David Sheddan

We asked David Sheddan a few questions about how he went about preparing to get his CCNA re-certification which he passed a few months back.

1.) What books, materials did you use to refresh your memory?

"I used the Cisco Press training pack, and the command line reference guide - I've also built up a A5 book of command references throughout my career.  I work with Aruba / Alcatel Data / Riverbed & HP gear a lot (including Cisco), so I tend to ensure I have a quick script for all common tasks for each vendor - example Configure basic OSPF or Password Reset. I've found throughout my career that the Cisco framework applies really well when you are trying to learn another vendor : example, I taught myself a lot of the Alcatel ACFE Omniswitch knowledge by referencing CCNA and then hunting out the relevant knowledge from that vendors documents."

2.) Did you consider taking another Cisco exam (such as CCNA security) to automatically get a CCNA re-certification?

"I had let my CCNA & CCNP lapse.  I sat CCNA when it was in its previous incarnation (CCNA1/2/3/4), and my CCNP was version 4 (BSCI/BCMSN/IC....etc)... I felt that to effectively bring my skills up to date I wanted to start afresh and have firm foundation."

3.) What preparation did you do leading up to your CCNA re-certification? 

"I have a lab in my house, with Frame Relay simulator, 6 routers (2611xm and a couple of 28xx) 4 switches (2 x 3550 and 2 x 3560) plus a few other bits of gear.  Spent quite a bit of time on this. I read through the new books, made a ton of notes and gradually refined these down to a few sheets of paper.  I also created some brain dumps of all my knowledge and gradually distilled this down.  Ahead of the exam I hit sites like yours to keep battering loads of questions at myself, and got my collegues in my team to keep firing me questions out of books."

4.) Has the CCNA exam changed much since you last sat the exam?

"Quite a lot - but mainly for the better.  When I sat it previously there was a lot of legacy crap - ISDN and the like.  Seemed a lot more relevant and a lot more logical than last time.  I like the idea that Cisco have done to add specic add-ons at CCNA level for VOICE/WIRELESS etc.... this makes more sense and allows the CCNA itself to concetrate on the core skills: switching and routing.  I'm planning to do my CCNP then circle back round and maybe do CCNA Wireless (my Aruba background should make this quite easy I think)."
 
5.) Do you think having a Cisco certification on your CV or resume had boosted your job opportunities or salary?

"I'm already certified by quite a few vendors, so it wasn't really about enhancing my earnings per say, but the CCNA is useful to me as it opens up my CCNP again (which I'm aiming to get completed between now and July).  It's useful for any technical engineer to have, as most vendors rely on this as a benchmark: example: Huwaei who will let me skip the initial HCDA exam and bootcamp straight through to their Professional level exam- same for Riverbed etc."

Tips From Our Latest CCENT Success

"There really is nothing like seeing your name on something you worked hard to achieve" ~ Kyle Kuhn

We asked our latest CCENT certified student, Kyle Kuhn about his studies, the ICND1 exam, and any tips he could provide to fellow CCENT and CCNA students.


1.) What books and materials did you read or use to study?

"In order to pass my ICND1 exam I used Todd Lammle's CCENT Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician Study Guide as my only printed book. I read this book cover to cover and used it as my primary source of information. It's dry and boring material with many typos but Todd does a great job of getting the information across. His book has many multiple choice sample questions that to my surprise, mimicked the ICND1 questions very closely."

Aside from the printed book I also utilized many different online resources. My goal was to pass the ICND1 for the price of a book and exam cost. I did quite a bit of searching to find as many resources as possible.

2.) What do you think helped you pass?

"Two things helped me by FAR the most:"

  1. Motivation: You will not pass if you cannot be disciplined and study. Working full time and studying wore me down. This was not easy for me, and without staying motivated I would have failed.
  2. Practice tests: Take as many as you can. Take a test until you consistently score 95%+, then move on to another one. The questions on your site were a god send. I recommend taking the Mixed Topic 50 question test until you can get your certificate at least 3x in a row. I used about 4 different sites for practice test questions and all of them had some new question I had not been asked before. Take as many tests as you can, and then take them again.

3.) If you were to give some tips to a friend what would you tell them?

"I would recommend enrolling in a class if you have the time and money. Computer books are dry and I was easily distracted. Having someone speak to you would make a world of difference."

"Make sure you find the quickest method of subnetting that works for you. Preferably be able to subnet in your head. I developed a method that worked best for me using my fingers as the 8 bits. This method cut my subnetting question time down significantly and I feel it was very helpful to me. I'm sure there are guides out there on some type of a fingering method if you search. I plan to place a video guide on Youtube at some point showing my version if there's not already a good video." 

4.) How did you find the CCENT exam? Was it hard, or was it as you expected?

"For me staying calm and keeping a clear head was actually harder than the exam. I failed my first attempt by 1 question and was devastated. I recommend leaving yourself double the amount of time you think it will take to get to the testing center. Believe me, if you can't find your exam center because it's buried deep inside a college campus and spend an hour wandering the campus stressing before hand, you will go into the test flustered and fail. My second attempt I came in 5 days later, cool, calm, and collected and very nearly aced it. I was shocked that it had been possible for me to fail the test previously because the exam seemed too easy. Also, ask the moderators for a pair of ear pugs before starting the test. The campus was doing construction work on my first try and you would be amazed how hard it is to concentrate with a jack hammer going outside your window. It took about 20 minutes before the moderators brought us all a pair."

5.) Do you think getting the CCENT was worth it?

"I can't answer this question yet because I only took the CCENT with the intent of using it as a stepping-stone towards my CCNA.  Right now I am working full time as a County Deputy in a Sheriff's office and love my job. I decided to get my CCNA because I took a CCNA class in high school and never pursued it. It always bothered me that I chose not to become certified and I wanted "revenge" if you will. I plan to find a part time job after I am certified, and possibly change careers or keep the CCNA active as a backup plan."

Please keep up the good work because I will be using the site very much again in the near future.

Kyle Kuhn
CCENT Certified Network Engineer