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

New CCNA Routing and Switching Syllabus Update

You may have heard that Cisco has refreshed the CCNA Routing and Switching syllabus (17th May 2016) to bring it up-to-date with current networking technologies.

Since this news was announced earlier this year we have been busy updating the CCNA exam prep materials on our CCNA training website.

So far we have updated everything except our CCNA Bootcamp videos, which will need re-recording. This is now our main priority.

The new exam numbers are:
ICND1 v3.0 - 100-105
ICND2 v3.0 - 200-105
CCNA v3.0 - 200-125

As of now, you won't be able to take the old exams, but fear not, as only a few topics have changed.

Here's a summary of the changes:


  • Added RIPv2
  • Added Syslog (previously in ICND2)
  • Added IOS Management (previously in ICND2)
  • Added IOS Licensing (previously in ICND2)


  • Added SPAN
  • Added Extended ACL (previously in ICND1)
  • Added MLP
  • Added PPPoE
  • Added QoS
  • Added OSPF (previously in ICND1)
  • Added EBGP
  • Added External authentication (RADIUS/TACACS)
  • Added Switch stacking
  • Added Cloud computing
  • Added APIC-EM
  • Removed Frame Relay
  • Removed GLBP and VRRP

Note: Only premium members will have access to the new material.

CCNA Exam Question Types Demo

We received this email last week about the CCNA exam simulation questions.

"Earlier this month, I actually decided to take the test. Needless to say, I didn't pass for a simple reason.... The simulations were a bit confusing. I pretty much had to skip all of them.  I do know how to configure switches and routers, but for some reason I just couldn't wrap my head around the simulations; they were much different than I assumed. What everything came down to in the end was really the troubleshooting (which I'm working on being as much familiar with it as possible now that I know it was a weak point). All in all, I feel that I will have a chance on passing it next go around. If ever your training goes back down to 99 dollars, I may consider that route, but for now I will continue my studies that way I have been."

A lot of students fall into this trap. They learn the theory and a little bit of troubleshooting, but they have no idea what the CCNA exam will be like when they go to the testing center.
Luckily Cisco have a little known demo which shows you what types of questions you will encounter on the exam and lets you try them out. Once you are familiar with the different types of exam questions, you'll be much more confident going into the exam.

Go to the Cisco Exam demo

How to Setup Your CCNA Lab

We often get asked the question "How do I set up my CCNA lab?".

Your CCNA lab setup will change depending what exercises you are working on.

For example: If you are building an EIGRP lab, you will need a completely different configuration to a lab designed for Router-On-A-Stick.

Luckily our CCNA Bootcamp explains all the kit you will require in your CCNA lab, and during the course you will discover how to setup your lab for certain exercises.

Getting hands-on lab practice is important, but sometimes it isn't practical to build your own lab, so we will explain alternatives you can use such as lab simulators.

You'll learn about the different cable types, connectors and devices, how to connect and configure them, and then how to troubleshoot the setup. You will also learn all the syllabus required to take and pass the Cisco CCNA exam.

So what are you waiting for? Enroll in our online CCNA Bootcamp today and begin your journey into the world of computer networking.

If you are unsure about the CCNA or you want to try our training course enter your name and email address on our homepage to begin your free trial.

See you in class soon!

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


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

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



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!


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

CCENT is the new CCNA

Cisco are making some big changes to the CCNA and CCENT certifications from 1st October 2013. Here is an infographic detailing all the changes to the CCNA.

The CCENT used to be a stepping stone certification that got you half way toward the CCNA, and this hasn't changed, what has changed are the syllabuses for the ICND1(CCENT exam) and ICND2.

The new CCENT syllabus is roughly equilvalent to the current CCNA syllabus, which will make the CCENT a much harder exam come October. The ICND2 has also been changed to include some topics from the CCNP with a big focus on troubleshooting.

By making these changes Cisco has positioned the CCENT as being their core network certification. Once you complete the ICND1 and get your CCENT you are free to continue your studies along your chosen speciality, by either studying for the CCNA Voice, CCNA Wireless, or CCNA Routing & Switching.

The problem with these changes for students, is that employers are aware of the CCNA, they understand that it's a tough certification and they can conclude that you must know your networking to a high level if you have a CCNA. But the same doesn't apply with the CCENT. The CCENT is a fairly new certification (introduced in 2007) and gets you only halfway to the CCNA. Lots of employers don't value the CCENT like they value the CCNA. Hopefully this will change, but in the short term at least, you are going to have to work much harder to get the CCNA Routing & Switching certification which employers are looking for.

This is why we are encouraging all those who are interesting in getting their CCNA certification to get it before 30 September this year. You'll save yourself a lot of time and effort and achieve the same certification as those who take the exam after that date.

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