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 reader, review, apply the concepts using lab exercises and question sets. Many people have passed and succeeded with ICND1, 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. The certskills.com web site has some links to help you work through the topic of building a CCNA lab.
Practice subnetting until you can do it all, do it well, and do it fast.
Finally, collaborate when you hit the wall by plugging in to 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 unusual place ICND1 holds in the certification hierarchy, many Cisco Press ICND1 products can be bought standalone or in a set for CCNA study. For example, best selling CCENT/CCNA ICND1 640-822 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 decide to pursue CCNA, you can save money by purchasing the bundles and libraries that include products for both ICND1 and ICND2. If you do not know yet, you can start with ICND1 products.
Focusing on ICND1, you need a primary study book, hands-on equipment, and practice. For primary study, the aforementioned CCENT/CCNA ICND1 640-822 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 CCENT 640-822 Network Simulator provides the most cost-efficient way to get the hands-on skills required for the ICND1 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 almost 100 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. Interconnecting Cisco Network Devices, Part 1 (ICND1), also from Cisco Press, is created from the authorized Cisco course of the same name. This book gives different examples and explanations for the ICND1 topics as compared to the CCENT ICND1 Official Cert Guide.