First, you should plan to study to learn deeply. No matter what tool you use for your primary study source, plan to do more than just read the book once and take the exam. Plan to read, review, and apply the concepts using lab exercises and question sets. Many people have passed and succeeded with ICND2, but there are so many variables impacting your changes of passing on the first attempt, that to get a passing score you will need to be well prepared.
Practice on the CLI. Buy used gear, use emulators, use the simulator, rent or borrow gear, but plan to practice the configurations and spend time understanding the router and switch commands. Certskills.com has some links to help you work through the topic of building a CCNA lab.
Practice subnetting, particularly with cases that use VLSM in the design. Practice until you can do it all, do it well, and do it fast.
As always, jump in and participate in the forums at the Cisco Learning Network (learningnetwork.cisco.com). This is a wonderful place where you can pose questions and often get multiple answers in minutes or hours. It's a hugely popular place for folks to collaborate on their path towards Cisco certification.
Recommended Study Resources
Because of the two possible paths to get your CCNA (1 exam or 2 exam), many Cisco Press products have an ICND1 product, a matching ICND2 product, and the two items are sold together for CCNA study at a lower price. In some cases, the product has an ICND1/CCENT edition, and a CCNA edition. For example, best selling CCNA ICND2 640-816 Official Cert Guide, Third Edition can be purchased:
- by itself (print and/or eBook)
- as a Premium Edition eBook with an enhanced practice test engine
- as part of the CCNA 640-802 Official Cert Library, Updated Third Edition
- as part of the CCNA 640-802 Cert Library, Simulator Edition
If you are reading this after getting through the ICND1 exam, you might save money by buying products specific to ICND2. If you are reading this before embarking on your study at all, and you plan to get your CCNA, you can save money by purchasing the bundles and libraries that include products for both ICND1 and ICND2.
The main tools are a primary study guide, lab exercises using the CLI interface, subnetting practice, and practice exams. For primary study, the aforementioned CCNA ICND2 640-816 Official Cert Guide, Third Edition provides many tools to help you prepare. Like all Cisco Press Cert Guides, besides explaining the technology, this book offers many other tools to help with exam prep, including planning review tables, notations of the most important topics in each chapter, and a CD question bank with exam software.
The CCNA 640-802 Network Simulator provides the most cost-efficient way to get the hands-on skills required for the ICND2 exam. This software product simulates the Cisco router and switch CLI: you type commands, and the software reacts as if you were doing the same thing on real gear. It comes with over 250 scripted lab exercises that also teach and reinforce the concepts.
Finally, for practice, you have a several good tools:
- CCNA Flash Cards and Exam Practice Pack: practice questions and flash cards
- Cisco CCENT Mind Share Game: an educational game developed by Cisco to help reinforce key exam topics.
Finally, studies show that many people that pursue Cisco certification use two separate primary reading sources. The Interconnecting Cisco Network Devices, Part 2 (ICND2) book, also from Cisco Press, is created from the authorized Cisco course of the same name. This book gives different examples and explanations for the ICND2 topics as compared to the CCNA ICND2 Official Cert Guide.