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Exam Profile: Cisco 100-101 ICND1

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This article profiles the Cisco 100-101 ICND1 exam for the CCNA/CCENT certifications. 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.
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The Cisco ICND1 exam has completed a journey from its introduction in 2003, as simply a tool to give new networkers an easier path to CCNA, to now being a focal point of most people’s journey into Cisco certifications. As for content, the most recent ICND1 exam, the 100-101 exam, has more content with more updated topics than the earlier versions of this same exam.

Along with the ICND1 exam itself, the related certification, Cisco Certified Entry Network Technician (CCENT) certification, has also grown up. In the past, the CCENT certification was just an afterthought for many. Today, it serves as a reasonable end goal in the Cisco routing and switching space, because it is the minimum prerequisite for many Cisco certs, including moving out to CCNA Voice, CCNA Security, and CCNA Wireless.

The ICND1 100-101 exam covers the most fundamental concepts, devices, and configurations on how to build a modern TCP/IP network using routers and switches. TCP/IP defines many of the rules (called protocols) used to create networks today. Devices call routers perform one role in those networks, while devices called switches, or Local Area Network (LAN) Switches, perform another role. The networks discussed for the ICND1 exam include routers, switches, some cables that connect between the routers and switches, and the rules (protocols) that tell the devices how to send data from one device to the next over that network.

Note that this exam requires skills as much as it requires knowledge. It introduces the Cisco Command Line Interface (CLI), a text-based user interface used to configure, monitor, and troubleshoot problems on Cisco routers and switches. You also have to be ready to apply knowledge about protocols to predict how those routers and switches will work.

Exams and Certifications

For about 15 years, from Cisco’s announcement of the Cisco Certified Network Associated (CCNA) certification in 1998 until 2013, the vast majority of people started with the CCNA certification. Why? CCNA was the minimum required prerequisite for almost every other Cisco certification. In fact, on a historical note, CCENT (the certification gained by passing the ICND1 100-101 exam) did not even exist until 2007. Even so, Cisco did not make CCENT the prerequisite for other certifications at the time, preferring to keep CCNA as the minimum required prerequisite for the most popular Cisco certifications.

In March 2013, Cisco made the CCENT certification the minimum prerequisite to move on to other technology areas like voice, wireless, and security. Cisco still wants us to start with some study of routing and switching, by getting at least to the CCENT certification by passing the ICND1 100-101 exam. At that point, you can ignore CCNA Routing and Switching, and choose to go into other technology areas. Or, you can keep getting deeper into routing and switching, pursuing CCNA Routing and Switching next. Figure 1 shows the most common options people choose after getting their CCENT Certification.

Figure 1 Most Common Options after CCENT Certification

For many of you starting your Cisco certification journey, the starting point can be as simple as shown in Figure 1: start with CCENT. However, Cisco does offer some flexible options that happen to make your first choice of exams a little more confusing.

Cisco gives us two paths to achieve CCNA Routing and Switching: a two-exam path that includes the ICND1 100-101 exam (as discussed in this exam profile), as well as a one-exam option, as shown in Figure 2.


Figure 2 Exam Options for CCNA

Why use the one-exam path to CCNA Routing and Switching? While many small reasons may exist, the two biggest reasons are:

  • You already have routing and switching skills and knowledge, so passing one exam that covers the same material as in both the 100-101 and 200-101 exams is not too much to learn.
  • You know you plan to go deep into routing and switching, and move on to CCNP Routing and Switching next, so there is no advantage of getting CCENT and stopping with your routing and switching studies.

If those two points apply to you, make sure to check out the exam profile for the 200-120 exam, and consider that option. If not, you will likely begin with the ICND1 100-101 exam, regardless whether you need up going further with your routing and switching studies or moving on to another technology area.

Exam Details

  • Number of Questions: 40-50
  • Types of Questions: Multiple Choice (single and multiple answer), drag-and-drop, Sim, Simlet, Testlet (see an exam tutorial here)
  • Passing score: varies, but it is around 800-850 out of 1000
  • Time Limit: 90 minutes
  • How to Register: vue.com
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