CCNA - Tips/Tricks/Suggestions?

AMD_RULES

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Mar 26, 2007
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I'm looking to go for my CCNA certification this summer and possibly CCNP as well. I was looking to study on my own and then take the exam online or at a test center. I have an old Cisco 1841 router that I was given to me that still works, but I do not have any Cisco switches. Should I pickup some used Cisco hardware (lab) on eBay or mess around with one of those software packet tracers? I am in a graduate program right now and in one of the courses, we have been messing with some Cisco 2911 routers and 3560 switches. So far we have done some VLANs, trunks, and basic IP configuration stuff. I have never worked with the Cisco CLI prior to this course, but so far I have a pretty good grasp on it. So I feel that with some additional study and practice, I should be able to easily pass the CCNA exam.

If anyone has any tips or recommendations on how to best prepare for the exam and become familiar with Cisco products, please let me know.

Thanks!
 

Liger88

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Working with the physical hardware is always the best, but truth be told you can do everything (90%+) via Packet Tracer. At my college there were so many students that one class got screwed into using nothing but it while the rest of us got to work with hardware. The difference is noticeable though. Some commands and things don't register the same on Packet Tracer as the hardware and vice versa. Not everyone has the luxury or space to build a personal lab so you shouldn't run into too many issues if you decide to forgo the added expense.

You don't have to hammer obsessively about it like most people think. It's definitely a very hard and unpredictable exam. For an entry-level cert it slaps you in the face. You either know something or you don't. Any doubt and it'll crush you. Time is really the biggest issue with the stupid exam lol.

If I could recommend anything it would be to understand the technology involved in networking. The commands will have importance, but most of them are pretty identifiable (wrong ones) on the exam. Unlike school curriculum, you wont find many stupid or trick questions, but you will find a lot that will make you question the context in which they're asking it. The typical Cisco BS.

[EDIT] Regarding your CCNP: I'd suggest waiting until you get experience. If you already have it and simply trying to broaden your field then go for the CCNP if you can afford to. Depending on your location and what not it can be hard to break into the networking field without IT experience, or much that's relevant.
 
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Raekwon

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Background: I passed CCENT last October and CCNA in January. Passed both on my first shot - although i warn you to review the test objectives online because they change and you could be severely under prepared if you only study with books. I've got a year and change experience with desktop support in a good sized organization but I never really worked on any network outside of my home.

I used packet tracer for all of my labbing. I have a few routers and switches that I have strung together and tested concepts like clearing the config without the enable password. However, it's so fast to stand up a topology in packet tracer that I never wanted to use my real equipment. GNS3 is another option which a lot of people swear by, but will require a little more upfront work to setup.

I read all of the Todd Lammle and Wendell Odom books, then reviewed my weak spots in Lammle a second time as he is more concise and easy to read. There are plenty of well reviewed videos for CCNA (CBT Nuggets, Chris Bryant) but I didn't watch any. I labbed every scenario in the Lammle book and did all the practice questions in both books. Odom comes with a practice test which helps find kinks in your armor. The questions aren't too far from what you might see on the exams.

I wouldn't worry about CCNP until you get some work experience under your belt. My employer knows that I have a passion for this so I spend some time working networking every week now. I touch everything from the access to core of a pretty big company (close to 50 offices in multiple states) and I am going to wait a bit before pursuing CCNP. Best of luck to you, feel free to throw any technical questions my way and I will gladly chat.
 
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Lunas

[H]ardForum Junkie
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Honestly unless your going to work with it daily you will forget a lot of it so my suggestion is build a small network that you can use on a daily basis. I would say having 2 routers would be better than a router and switch.
 

AMD_RULES

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After I posted this thread, I did some slight research online. Leaning towards just going for the CCNA, since I have no work experience yet. I was considering buying one of those labs that are available on eBay, but I'm not sure if those are not necessary or a rip off. What would you all suggest? In my course in grad school, we work with cisco hardware for our lab session. Are there any text books y'all would suggest? Thanks!
 
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