10 Ways to Fail Your CCNA

The CCNA exam is a tough exam to pass, lots of people fail first time. In this email we go through some of the main causes of failure. Hopefully it will help improve your chances of passing first time.

Ten reasons people fail their CCNA:

1.) Forgot how to subnet, didn't practice enough
2.) Not enough time spent on revision/cramming
3.) Poor troubleshooting techniques
4.) Not able to configure Cisco routers or switches without notes
5.) Ran out of time by spending too long on each question
6.) Didn't use practice questions enough to find my weak spots
7.) Not enough time spent studying and cramming weaker subjects
8.) Had to rush the simulation questions
9.) Forgot to cram/study a topic that appeared on the exam
10.) Wasn't familiar with the exam simulator and scenario questions

If you learn from the lessons above you'll be well on your way to becoming a CCNA.

Sit the CCNA Exam

CCNA exam centerWe often get emails thanking us for helping them learn networking, but they go on to explain, for one reason or another, they aren't going to sit the exam.

I think this is a big shame, and most people will regret this decision. I know most people hate sitting exams, Cisco exams are also expensive. However having the CCNA certificate and being able to put it on your CV/resumé, and business card proves that you know your stuff to potential employers and clients.

You've already done the hard part, which is learning networking fundamentals, Cisco equipment, you've probably configured routers and switches and done your fair share of troubleshooting, so why not sit the exam and be rewarded for all that hard work?CCNA Certificate

Once you get that CCNA you need to show it off, advertise the fact that you are a computer networking guru! Add it to your LinkedIn, SkillPage, Elance pages so that potential employers and clients can find you and hire you.

Go tell the world you're a CCNA!

(Exam center image courtesy of mocvdleung)

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

Failed CCNA because of Subnetting?

Occasionally we get an email at Internetwork Training HQ that reads something like this...

"I just failed my ccna exam today. I'm weak at subnetting and these questions cost me the exam! Can you help??"

Our advice is, don't walk into the CCNA exam without being prepared! Subnetting is a vital skill to the network engineer and you WILL be tested on it, so make sure you understand how to subnet before you take your CCNA exam.

You need to be able to solve subnetting problems quickly under test conditions, that means no calculators or subnetting tools!

If you are struggling with subnetting, we have a great subnetting eBook that you can purchase. It comes included with our popular CCNA cheat sheet, and has plenty of examples to help you learn.

Click here to purchase the CCNA cheat sheet and subnetting eBooks.

CCENT Video Training Boot Camp

We offer an online CCNA video course that contains all the training and exam preparation materials you need to study for the CCNA exam, however some students prefer to take the two exam pathway to gain their CCNA certification. This involves studying and passing the ICND1 and ICND2 exams. When you pass the ICND1 exam you become CCENT certified, this allows you to study for the ICND2 exam which will make you CCNA certified.

While our CCNA Bootcamp is designed to train you up to the CCNA level you can also use it to train for the ICND1 (CCENT) and ICND2 exams, enroll in the course and watch the appropriate videos of our course below.


1.    Introduction to Networking
2.    Five Ways to Learn Cisco IOS
3.    How to Build a CCNA Lab
4.    The OSI Model
5.    The TCP/IP Model
6.    Binary and Hexadecimal
7.    Local Area Networks (LANs)
8.    Introduction to Wide Area Networks (WANs)
9.    The Cisco Hierarchical Model
10.    Cisco Hardware and Software
11.    TCP/IP Protocols
12.    IP Addressing
13.    Subnetting
15.    Introduction to Switching
16.    Layer 2 Switching
20.    Routing
21.    Routing Information Protocol (RIP)
24.    Wireless LAN (WLAN)
25.    Introduction to Network Security
33.    Router Troubleshooting


14.    IP Version 6
17.    Virtual LANs (VLANs)
18.    The Spanning Tree Protocol
19.    Voice Over IP (VoIP)
22.    Enhanced Interior Gateway Routing Protocol (EIGRP)
23.    Open Shortest Path First (OSPF)
26.    IP Access Lists
27.    Network Address Translation (NAT)
28.    Virtual Private Networks (VPN)
29.    WAN Basics
30.    High-Level Data Link Control (HDLC)
31.    Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP)
32.    Frame Relay ...[34 minutes]
34.    How to Install a TFTP Server
35.    How to Upgrade Cisco IOS
36.    Terminating RJ45 Ethernet Cables

Enroll or request a demo of our CCNA Video Training Bootcamp.

Taking the CCNA Exam in India

We get a lot of emails asking how much it costs to sit the CCNA exam in India and how to locate a test center.  Well as of May 2012 the price is $295 USD.  You can check the latest price on the Pearson VUE price list, just look for the 640-802 exam code.

Locate a Cisco Test Center in India

Cisco CCNA exams delivered by a company called Pearson VUE.  Go to this page to find a CCNA test center in India.  Choose India from the drop down menu and then select your region.