Part A: Introduction

Who is Cisco?

Cisco is arguably the most well-recognized manufacturer of network hardware in the world.  Some of their products include

  • Routers, Switches, Wireless Access Points
  • VoIP Telephones and Controllers
  • SD-WANs
  • Firewalls
  • Cloud devices

Cisco equipment is used everywhere, from small businesses to ISPs that run the backbone of the internet.

Some acquisitions that Cisco has made include

  • Viptela
  • Meraki
  • Acacia Communications
  • Broadsoft

Cisco offers certifications on all their network hardware.

What is the CCNA?

The CCNA is an entry level credential for IT Professionals to design, configure, identify issues and solve problems with computer networks on Cisco hardware.

The CCNA allows you to do the following

  • Install and configure Cisco network equipment such as switches, routers, and wireless access points
  • Understand network concepts like NAT, ARP, DNS, and DHCP
  • Understand physical cabling principles and wireless principles
  • Understand virtualization
  • Configure switching and routing protocols, ACLs, VLANs, EtherChannel
  • Understand cloud-based networks
  • Understand automation in network configuration

You should have

  • At least two years experience in IT administration and security
  • Day-to-day knowledge of technical network information
  • Broad knowledge of security threats
  • Experience with computer networks

CCNA overlaps with

  • Vendor neutral networking certifications (CompTIA Network+ for example)
  • Virtualization Certifications (VMWare)
  • Security Certifications

What can you do with a CCNA Certification?

  • System Engineer
  • Systems Administrator
  • Network Administrator
  • Network Field Technician
  • Network Analyst

What’s new?

The exam has been completely changed for February 2020.  The structure of the CCNA has changed.

In the past, there were nine separate CCNA tracks:

  • Collaboration
  • Data Center
  • Routing & Switching
  • Wireless
  • Security
  • Service Provider
  • Cloud
  • Cyber Ops
  • Industrial

Routing & Switching was the most popular.  When people say “CCNA”, they usually mean CCNA Routing & Switching.  There was too much overlap between the different CCNA tracks.  It is important to have some knowledge about each area to properly configure a network.

Now there is only one CCNA.

When you obtain your CCNA, you can advance to the CCNP (Cisco Certified Network Professional) credential.  There are five CCNP tracks:

  • Collaboration
  • Data Center
  • Enterprise
  • Security
  • Service Provider

You can go further in each track to get your CCIE (Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert), or you can challenge the exam.

How do I obtain the CCNA Certification?

You must pass the exam, 200-301.  The passing score is 825 (out of a possible score of 1000).  The exam is 120 minutes long and contains a maximum of 90 questions.  The actual number of questions will depend on the difficulty.  If you receive an exam with more difficult questions, there may be fewer questions.

The score of 825 is not a percentage (such as 82.5%).  It is not clear how much weight each question is given or whether questions have equal weiht.

About the Exam

  • You can register online to take the exam.  The online system will show you the dates and times that are available.
  • You may be able to write the exam on a Saturday or Sunday, depending on the Prometric Test Center.
  • You may reschedule the exam for free, if you do so at least 30 calendar days before the exam.
  • You may reschedule the exam for USD$325, if you do so at least 2 calendar days before the exam.
  • You may not reschedule the exam if there are less than 2 calendar days before the exam.
  • If you do not show up to the exam or are more than 15 minutes late to the exam, you will not be allowed to write the exam, and will forfeit the entire fee.

  • At the exam center, you are required to show a piece of government-issued photo ID.
  • You will be required to empty your pockets and place the contents in a locker.
  • If you are wearing eyeglasses, they will be inspected.
  • You may be checked with a metal detector.
  • You can only bring your photo ID and locker key into the exam room.
  • The test center will provide you with scratch paper, a pencil, and a basic calculator.

  • While you write the exam, you will be monitored via audio and video surveillance.
  • Each exam is up to 90 multiple-choice questions, and you have 90 minutes to complete the exam.
  • You can’t go back to a question after
  • You can take a break at any time, but the time on the exam will continue to elapse.
  • It goes without saying that cheating will not be tolerated!

  • The questions are
    • Multiple-choice (single, and multiple responses)
    • Drag & Drop
    • Simulated Lab – you are given several virtual (simulated) Cisco devices and must fix the configuration
    • Simlet – like the Lab, but you are given several questions about the state of the simulated network

About this Book

  • The Exam has 6 Main Topics
  • We’re going to cover each topic in order
  • This is the best way because some readers have advanced knowledge and just need to brush up on specific topics, while other people are starting from the very beginning
  • Sometimes that won’t make sense because we are explaining an advanced concept before explaining a basic concept, but I will explain concepts as necessary
  • Keep everything in the back of your mind; you might choose to go back and re-read a section
  • You can think of the topics as three parts
    • Part 1 covers Sections 1 to 4, and is related to configuration of routers, switches.  It also covers physical network infrastructure (cabling).
    • Part 2 covers Section 5 and is related to security.
    • Part 3 covers Section 6 and covers automation.