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Exam Profile: Cisco CCENT/CCNA ICND1 (640-822)

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Pearson IT Certification provides a variety of exam preparation tools to help our customers in their quest for certification. As part of our service to you, we have developed this Exam Profile series. Each profile is developed based on the testing experience of one of our trainers or authors. You won’t get exact questions or answers, but you will get a real feel for the exam. Each profile describes question forms, trouble spots, hints for exam preparation, and recommendations for additional study resources. Find out what you can expect to see on the exam and how you can better prepare for it.

Editor's Note: This article was updated on December 2, 2011 to include new information and links to the latest study resources available from Cisco Press.

The ICND1 640-822 exam serves two main purposes. First, those interested only in the Cisco Certified Entry Network Technician (CCENT) certification can just take and pass the ICND1 exam. However, the next Cisco certification in the Cisco certification pyramid, CCNA, is much more popular than CCENT-and ICND1 can also be used as part of the path to CCNA. This paper discusses the ICND1 640-822 exam, including its somewhat unusual role in the Cisco certification hierarchy.

Almost everyone's Cisco certification journey starts with CCNA, and that journey often starts with the ICND1 exam. Cisco provides two paths to CCNA: pass one exam (CCNA 640-802) or two exams (ICND1 640-822 and ICND2 640-816). Both paths cover the same topics, and the cost is the same for both paths (assuming you pass each exam). Essentially, the ICND1 exam covers the first half of the topics in the CCNA exam, and the ICND2 exam covers the second half. So, whether you actually take this ICND1 640-822 exam, or the CCNA 640-802 exam, you will need to study the topics included in the ICND1 640-822 exam.

Note that if you take and pass the ICND1 exam, you achieve the CCENT certification. However, if you take and pass the CCNA exam rather than using the two-exam path to CCNA (ICND1 and ICND2), you do attain CCNA certification, but you do not receive a CCENT certification.

Because of its role as the first Cisco exam in your Cisco journey, the ICND1 exam includes the most basic topics related to modern networks. The topics include TCP/IP, IP routers, Ethernet LANs, and LAN switching. This exam also sets a foundation of protocol knowledge for both Local Area Networks (LAN) and Wide Area Networks (WAN), hardware basics, and a heavy emphasis on IP addressing and subnetting. It also introduces the Cisco Command Line Interface (CLI), a text-based user interface used to configure, monitor, and troubleshoot problems on Cisco devices, including Cisco routers and switches.

Exam Details

  • Exam Number: 640-822
  • Number of questions: 40-50
  • Types of questions: Multiple Choice (single and multiple answer), drag-and-drop, Sim, Simlet, Testlet
  • Passing scores: varies
  • Time limit: 90 minutes
  • Language: Multiple languages
  • How to register: Vue testing centers

Trouble Spots

IP subnetting poses the biggest challenge for the ICND1 exam. IP subnetting, at a purely conceptual level, can be simple: take a large list of consecutive numbers and subdivide them into smaller ranges of consecutive numbers-following specific rules-thereby creating many smaller groups (subnets) instead of one large group. The challenge with subnetting comes from many other related issues, such as:

  • Interpreting the terminology surrounding subnetting
  • Remembering which math process to use to find a particular answer
  • Mastering the use of a particular math process to find the answer
  • Applying the related IP addressing and routing concepts while also working with the math
  • Working through the analysis and math very quickly on the exam

Time pressure also makes the ICND1 exam somewhat challenging. That time pressure exists for many reasons. First, the exam does not allow you to skip a question and go back later, so there's a tendency to take extra time when unsure, which presents many time management problems. The exam includes three particularly time-consuming problem types: Sims, Simlets, and Testlets. While a time goal of 1 minute per multichoice question time budget is reasonable, these other questions typically require 4-8 minutes each-but each counts as 1 question from the overall count of the number of questions. Additionally, subnetting questions often require you to find several related values for a single question, so if you subnet well, but slowly, you may not have enough time. Finally, it would be everyone's first Cisco exam, so there's simply the issue of getting accustomed to the testing environment.

Finally, two question types-Sims and Simlets-require you to have practiced and become comfortable with typing commands on a Cisco router or switch CLI as if you were configuring and monitoring real equipment. As a result, most CCNA candidates need hands-on experience before tackling the ICND1, ICND2, and CCNA exams.

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