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Tackling the CCNA Exam

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Mastering CCNA certification is not an easy task. Eric Rivard gives you tips on how to successfully pass the CCNA exam the very first time.
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Tackling the CCNA Exam

Since its introduction in April 1998, CCNA certification has become the most sought after entry-level network certification in the industry. Successful completion of the CCNA exam proves that an individual has a solid understanding of TCP/IP, the OSI model, switching, basic routing, WANs, and configuring Cisco devices. Many professionals seek to become CCNA certified to receive a promotion or to increase job knowledge. Employers hire CCNA-certified individuals because of the knowledge obtained upon completion of the exam.

Mastering CCNA certification is not an easy task. Cisco has maintained the difficulty of the CCNA exam by changing the exam requirements regularly. Many professionals have tried to pass the exam without success. Some pass the exam the first time, most pass it after multiple attempts, while some do not pass it at all. Not passing the CCNA exam the first time can be costly and disappointing. After investing all the study time and effort into the exam, the last thing expected is failure.

So how do you pass the CCNA exam the first time around? With the surplus of CCNA exam materials being sold, what study materials should you use? This article will address these issues and give you tips on how to successfully pass the CCNA exam the very first time.

Studying for the Exam
The most effective way to study for the CCNA exam is to use two types of study guides: a primary exam certification guide and a secondary preparation product. A primary certification guide is the guide used for the core learning; it is where all exam topics and materials are learned and covered in detail. Examples include attending the authorized Cisco course, Interconnecting Cisco Devices, and using Cisco Press self-study books such as the CCNA Certification Library (CCNA Self-Study), exam which includes) CCNA INTRO Exam Certification Guide (CCNA Self-Study, exam #640-821) and CCNA ICND Exam Certification Guide (CCNA Self-Study, exam #640-811) by Wendell Odom. By using a primary study guide, you will build a foundation and have a solid understanding of the topics and technologies covered on the CCNA exam. After you have gained a sound understanding, the next step is to use a secondary preparation product. The purpose of the secondary preparation product is to help prepare for the actual exam and is used 30 to 60 days before the actual exam. An example of a secondary study guide is the CCNA Flash Cards and Exam Practice Pack (CCNA Self-Study, exam #640-801), also published by Cisco Press. By quizzing you on exam topics, providing note cards, study sheets, and test engines, the secondary guide will help give you the understanding and tidbits of information needed to pass the exam. The study guide will help solidify in memory the topics covered on the exam.

The advantage of using primary and secondary products is twofold. First, you gain a solid understanding of all topics because you are using two resources to prepare for the CCNA exam. One resource provides in-depth coverage of the exam, and the other provides a high-level look that will stimulate your memory on the topics learned ? and maybe forgotten. Secondly, by using two products you ensure that you will be prepared for the actual exam. The two study guides will help you maximize your learning potential.

Now that you have been introduced to the two-study product system, let's talk about the most effective way to use the two guides. I will discuss this by using the above-mentioned Cisco Press books as examples. Before getting started, it is crucial to find a quiet place and time to study. Find the time when you feel most alert and ready to learn to schedule your studies; doing this will help your brain absorb as much as possible. Odom's books provide in-depth coverage of all the topics on the CCNA exam. They are easy to read and present the information in a digestible manner. Use these books as your main study guides, read every chapter, and take notes. If you do not understand any topic, go back and reread it until you do. If possible, get access to some Cisco equipment and work on the labs provided.

A final exam preparation resource is CCNA Flash Cards and Exam Practice Pack, which includes more than 550 flash cards, study sheets, and a powerful test engine with router simulation. Thirty days before your scheduled exam, use the flash cards to memorize the information needed for the exam. If you need further clarification be sure to reference your primary study guide.

Study the flash cards any chance you get so the information is committed to both your short- and long-term memory. After you have studied the flash cards use the study sheets and test engine the final week before your exam. The study sheets will help keep the topics fresh in your mind, and the test engine will help prepare you for the exam format. Constantly look over the study sheets, even hours before your exam. In fact, bring them with you to the exam and review the study sheets right before sitting down to take the exam. Before you begin, write down as much information as you can remember from the study sheets, flash cards, and exam engine on the paper provided to you. You will be able to use this paper as reference while taking your exam.

Passing the CCNA exam can be very easy if you use the right study methods. This article discussed recommended methods and some of the resources available to help you achieve your certification. Passing the CCNA exam the first time is very rewarding, so study hard, study properly, take your time on the exam, and best of luck to you.

Exam Certification Guides from Cisco Press are part of the Certification Self-Study series. These books help you organize the information you've learned in your training and on the job for maximum knowledge retention and recall.

CCNA Self-Study books are part of a recommended learning program from Cisco Systems that includes simulation and hands-on training from authorized Cisco Learning Partners and self-study products from Cisco Press. To find out more about instructor-led, e-learning, and hands-on instruction offered by authorized Cisco Learning Partners worldwide, please visit www.cisco.com/go/authorizedtraining.

Learn more about CCNA Certification.

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