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

 

What Happens if I Fail my CCNA?

We recently received this email from one of our students after they failed their first attempt at the CCNA exam.

Hi Nik

unfortunately I failed my first attempt, though I purchased your cheat sheet.

but I'm not blaming anyone either than myself. I could not get my trouble shooting commands right and the time seemed to fly.

I will be very grateful  if you can assist me with my exam on the 19th july 2013

thanks

Anthony

We wanted to share our advice to Anthony with our other CCNA students, because the CCNA is a hard exam and many people fail first time.

Hi Anthony,

I'm sorry to hear you didn't succeed at your first attempt, but don't worry because many people do, you are not alone.

Sadly just like the exams at school and college you need to learn how to take the test to some extent.

Even if you know all the theory and IOS commands etc you need to be familiar with the test format, and if you don't plan your time wisely you can quickly find yourself rushing to complete the test.

It sounds like you've already booked your next exam, this is excellent, if you don't do this quickly you'll start to forget all your training.

Remember the proverb:

"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again"

Take a piece of paper and write down all the areas of the exam you struggled in. Work on these topics continuously right up to your next exam. Try to turn these weaknesses into strengths.

Next time you sit the exam you'll be more relaxed, more self-confident and much more likely to pass the exam.

Good luck!

Nik

Note: The student who wrote this email wishes to remain anonymous so the names have been changed.

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 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.

8 Tips to Help you Cram for your CCNA

Here are some tips for helping to cram for the CCNA exam.

  1. Restrict your revision to the exam topics on the CCNA syllabus
  2. Concentrate on the subjects where your knowledge is weak
  3. Buy a good CCNA certification book such as Todd Lammle's CCNA Study Guide
  4. Buy a CCNA exam simulator or use our free CCNA test engine
  5. Create a single page of revision notes per topic, you may want to use our CCNA cheat sheet as a starting point
  6. Book your exam in advance to give you some motivation
  7. Review your revision notes and start to memorize the information
  8. Condense your notes, add sketches, diagrams, mnemonics to aid your memory