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Exam Profile: Cisco CCNA ICND2 640-816

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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.

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Almost everyone's Cisco certification journey starts with CCNA. Cisco provides two paths to CCNA: pass one exam (CCNA 640-802) or two exams (ICND1 640-822 and ICND2 640-816). Both options cover the same topics, and the cost is the same for both paths (assuming you pass each exam). The ICND2 640-816 exam serves one role: to complete the second part of the journey to CCNA.

The ICND2 640-816, as the second exam in the 2-exam path to CCNA, picks up where the first exam (ICND1 640-822) stops. Both exams include Ethernet LAN info, but ICND2 examines more advanced LAN switching features, like Spanning Tree Protocol (STP), Virtual LANs (VLANs), and VLAN trunking. ICND2 also goes deeper with IP subnetting, including Variable Length Subnet Masks (VLSM). It goes beyond the RIP routing protocol included in ICND1, to include more advanced routing protocols like EIGRP and OSPF. More generally, it requires knowledge of a much larger number of configuration and verification commands than does the ICND1 exam.

Exam Details

  • Exam Number: 640-816
  • 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: 75-90 minutes
  • Language: Multiple languages
  • How to register: Vue testing centers

Trouble Spots

IP subnetting continues as one of the main trouble spots on the ICND2 exam, just as it is on the ICND1 exam. For ICND2, the IP subnetting questions can include the use of VLSM, which introduces the possibility of subnets with overlapped address ranges that are not easily identified. In particular, you must be skilled at:

  • 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 presents a problem with the ICND2 exam, but not as much as with ICND1. Like all Cisco exams, the ICND2 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. And your speed at finding the answers to subnetting questions will impact whether you feel much time pressure.

As for topics, Spanning Tree Protocol (STP) tends to give people the most problems. In real life, most people have STP enabled, and it works, and there is no need to pay much attention to it, so it requires some deeper book learning. Access Control Lists (ACLs) can post a challenge, particularly when thinking through how to match various TCP and UDP port numbers-both source and destination. Finally, OSPF (a complex IP routing protocol) can cause some issues, but most of the details of OSPF are not introduced until the next deeper certification level (CCNP, specifically the ROUTE 642-902 exam).

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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