CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) is a certification from Cisco, the world’s most famous company for manufacturing and selling networking equipment. This certification helps you to become familiar with a wide range of topics, such as:
- TCP/IP model
- Switches and routers
- Network utilities (ping, tracert, arp)
- IP addressing and subnetting
- VLANs and trunking
- Routing protocols such as OSPF
- NAT and ACLs
- Automation and programmability
How to become CCNA certified?
You can become CCNA certified by taking and passing a single exam – CCNA 200-301. The exam consists of about 120 questions. The highest score you can achieve on the exam is 1000, with the minimum passing score somewhere around 800-850.
Where to take the exam?
To take the CCNA exam you have to schedule a test appointment through Pearson VUE, an electronic testing company. Pearson VUE has many authorized testing centers throughout the world and you can locate a test center in your vicinity.
The exams are available in English and Japanese and lasts for 120 minutes. After finishing the test you will immediately get the results. Cisco provides just the basic information about your score, so you can’t be sure which questions you got right or wrong!
Preparing for the exam
There are several ways in which you can prepare yourself for the exam:
- attending a CCNA course – Cisco courses are offered by various educational companies and institutions. You can use this online tool to locate an academy in your vicinity. These courses usually lasts a couple of months and include a lot of hands-on activities. Prices vary depending on your location, but the courses can be quite costly (up to $1000).
- self-study with textbooks and online courses – another popular way to prepare a CCNA exam is by self-studying. There are lots of high-quality resources online and tools such as GNS3 or Packet Tracer that enable you to study without actually buying expensive equipment. Of course, this website is one of these high-quality online resources :-). Many people use website like Ebay or Amazon to find CCNA kits that will enable them to work on real equipment.
- concentrated boot camps – intensive, week-long live classes that cover months of materials in just a couple of days. Not recommended for beginners.
You don’t need to attend a CCNA course in order to take the exam.
Types of questions
There are seven types of questions on the CCNA exam:
- multiple-choice single answer – you need to choose only a single correct answer:
- multiple-choice multiple answer – you need to choose multiple answers:
- fill-in-the-blank – this type of question requires you to type the correct answer:
- testlet – you get a description of a scenario and need to answer a couple of multiple-choice questions related to it:
- drag-and-drop – you need to drag and drop items to the proper categories:
- simulated lab (sim) – a lab scenario where you can access and configure the devices. You job is to fix the problem by reconfiguring the devices:
- simlet – combined sim and testlet question types. You get a network topology, a lab scenario, and can access the devices. There will be multiple-choice questions based on the information contained in the scenario:
Cisco has reserved the right to change the exam topics guidelines at any time without notice.
A CCNA certification expires after three years! To recertify, pass one of the following exams before the certificate expiration date:
- CCNA exam again
- any one professional concentration exam
- one technology core exam
- one CCIE lab exam
You can also recertificate by earning 30 CE (Continuing Education) credits. You can earn CE credits by attending Cisco Live training sessions or completing online training courses.