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