Maybe you are new to taking networking exams or perhaps you have done plenty but never did a Cisco exam before. Nevertheless in this post i’d like to tell a little bit about the CCNA exam so you know what to expect. Cisco exams, and the CCNA exam is no exception are very ‘hands-on’ minded. This means if you have studied all your theory but never touched a router or switch before you are likely to fail.
There are questions where they will show you the output of show or debug commands and the only way to answer these questions are to get hands-on experience (that means you have to lab!). Having said that, what type of questions can we expect on the exam?
- Multiple-choice single answer
This is where you have to choose the best answer out of (mostly 4) possible answers. There’s only 1 best answer which means if you are doubting you just pick the “best” answer (or close your eyes and have faith).
- Multiple-choice multiple answer
These are the “click all that apply” kind of questions. Normally you’ll get 6 possible answers and you’ll have to pick 2 or 3 of them.
These questions will ask you to drag a block and put it on the correct position on a network topology.
Here you will see a sentence with some empty words / values, you need to fill in the blanks by selecting the correct answer.
This is where they show you a scenario, you need to take some time to read it and then answer 4 or 5 questions about this particular scenario.
The simlet shows you a picture of a network topology, you can click on some of the devices and do some show commands or a ‘show running-configuration’. You don’t have to change the configuration, just answer some questions.
This is where you actually configure a router or switch. Normally the simulation will tell you what to achieve to successfully complete the simulation. This will be something like “if you can ping router X then your task is completed”.
If you have no idea what i’m talking about and want a more visual presentation i’d suggest to check out the Cisco site since they have a tutorial. Type in “cisco certification exam tutorial site:cisco.com” at Google and you’ll find it immediately.
Let me give you some other tips that might help you pass your CCNA exam:
- Relax, take it easy: Some people are very nervous about taking exams, especially if they feel that they NEED to pass since the boss is paying, your colleague already passed or whatever reasons you have…take it easy. Make sure you arrive 15 minutes before taking the CCNA exam so you can relax or read some quick notes.
- Check out the Cisco exam tutorial interface: Searching in Google as I specified above, make sure you are familiar with the interface.
- Free time: Once you start your exam you will have 10-15 minutes of time for the tutorial. This time is not withdrawn from your exam time! During the tutorial you can check out the tutorial or spend your valuable time writing down everything that could help you. Write down those binary numbers, all subnets from /16 to /30 with the number of hosts left in each subnet, the full subnet mask like 255.255.255.0 , 255.255.255.128 etc, the matching wildcards and perhaps the OSI model. Now you can spend your valuable time at answering questions and looking up subnetting questions on your sheet.
- No previous button: When i started doing Cisco exams I messed up because my Microsoft exam technique was to answer all questions, then return to question 1 and start over, checking all the questions. If you do a Cisco exam there’s no previous button….DOH!
- Hands-on experience: I can’t say this one enough, if you don’t practice on routers or switches you’ll fail at beating the exam, it’s as simple as that. The CCNA exam is ‘hands-on’ oriented so make sure you practice…and don’t tell me you couldn’t find any labs 😉
And the last tip, I really hope you don’t need it but in case you fail…don’t sweat it, it’s too bad but it’s still just an exam. You now have real life experience taking Cisco exams and believe it or not, this will help you for the next time! Make sure you write down or make a mental note of all the stuff you didn’t understand. Do this because you will forget in a day or two. Write it down and get back to studying, do some more labs and test your stuff.
I hope this was helpful for you!
Do you think there is anything I should have added? Please share your opinion by leaving a comment…and if you pass your CCNA feel free to tell us about it in the forum or the community!