Hello, this post is from Mexico and I have a certainty of about 85% that I’ll get my rear kicked or banned from here or something, but I hope this to be helpful to anyone going towards that dreaded 801.
And in advance, I state that at least for the CCNA level, I do know what kind of equipment I’m dealing with. And I’m not even a bit afraid of approaching a big scenario with live equipment. I’m not a “paper CCNA”. Please, bear this in mind.
For me, day one started around a year ago or so. I took the Cisco academy programs along with my classes (that is, networks1 = ccna1, networks2 = ccna2, and so on).
The real interesting point for me was in networks 3 this summer, where I took both ccna3 and 4 courses.
After said courses I was told to try and go for the CCNA. And these are some strategies I took for preparing:
First of all, I think there is a real need to mess up with routers and switches for some time. I know about the issue of availability of equipment in some areas and the costs associated with it. Simulators don’t convince me at all, I don’t have a lot of money and the equipment in my school was pretty old to practice with. Hell, some routers even had the IOS v10 still on them! Hehe.
Which is why I managed to snatch some out-of-hours lab time with a friend of mine who works at a training center. Now THERE I got to see and play with the cream of the crop . I mean, that catalyst 4000 switch is a real monster, never mind the 3000 router series! With this in consideration, I think 3 months of insane practice periods should be enough to be good for the CCNA. Bottom line: if you’re smart, there’s no need to draw a big bunch of cash for good equipment
Then came the theory part. For this I did draw some cash for that new book “CCNA fast pass” by Mr. Lammle. I read it in two weeks and I also compared it with the huge original guide by the same author. From the comparison of these two books and the official Cisco curriculum, I think there is no real need to buy them if you have access to all 4 Cisco CCNA online courses. However, I might be wrong.
Again, here I managed to get them locally from a teacher at my school (and I imagine there must be “creative” ways to get them from the net ), and I think semesters 2, 3 and 4 REALLY prepare you for the test. The first course would only give you some interesting juice at the last part for standard subnetting.
I think the only useful trick I learned from Mr. Lammle was the one for quickly calculating the subnet offsets, ranges and hosts for standard subnetting.
Sorry if I’m tending to sound too “get-everything-for-freeish”. But down here in Mexico, our economy is quite [censored]. And for me and my family, paying for everything is not much of a choice
With this in mind, a lot of the questions in the exam are quite similar to some practice questions found on the books. I even got to see some dumps with a friend, but we found them to be of low quality.
I mean, there were repeated questions, a lot of them were answered incorrectly and some were badly written. In some cases some of the questions were taken directly from Lammle’s study books! Pay for that? No way! Bottom line: dumps are useless for purposes other than simple (and sometimes deceptive) practice on what you already know. Look at them, evaluate them, but don’t rely on them for solid learning.
Now going back to the exam details, it indeed consists of around 52 to 60 questions. Mine had 57.
From the things I can remember, the broad range of concepts covered was:
- Classful and classless addressing: The standard subnetting stuff. Valid host ranges, subnets, a bit of CIDR tricky questions, but no deep VLSM sub-sub-sub-subnetting . I’d say you should be prepared for doing all of this quickly for at least class B addresses.
- Routing protocols: both classful and classless. The usual gang: RIP 1 and 2, (E)IGRP and OSPF. The quirks and details about them in questions of the spot-the-big-fat-lie(s) type and what-route-will-I-take in a multi protocol looped topology.
- Switching: I saw some questions about the STP, the VTP, some concepts about trunking, quirks and details, and again, spot-the-big-fat-misconfigured parameter on configurations.
- Routers: Tell-me-why-won’t-my-router-work, spot lies about the different types of memory, and the config-register. No big deal here , however, be aware of the quirks and tricks of the serial interfaces (states, encapsulations, roles, etc.)
- Access-lists: Standard and extended, no traces of named lists at least for me. Things can get awful here. One of the questions really made me sweat . Make access lists, tell the exam what is the huge error in a displayed list, and also tell the exam where to place them on certain net scenarios.
- WAN technologies: Absolutely all of the quirks and tricks of ISDN, Frame Relay, PPP, and secure PPP. Concepts (leased lines, meshed topologies, etc), no new broadband stuff like DSL or cable at least for me (weird, I was not asked about ATM). Spot even more lies about them, and point out errors in configs.
- Router sims: I actually got only two, as in most practice exams. From my point of view, they’re not so hard, provided you do know what you’re doing. My problems involved activating routing protocols and correcting the errors that the “virtual dummie(s) left behind” for restoring connectivity, hehe. The most “ugly” problem I faced was applying an extended access-list , he.
- And finally, more theory . The OSI model, how it maps with the DoD model. Tell the exam about ALL of the routing and routed protocols that move on the middle layers of both models. Understanding encapsulation through all of the layers is essential (especially from layers 1 through 4, and be very aware of the different data link layer technologies for encapsulation at this level!). Again, spot-the-big-fat-lie(s), match the funny squares, and spot configuration errors based on device output.
Bottom-line: From my perspective, CCNA’s curriculum from 2 to 4 is all you need for taking that exam down.
I got 987 marks at the thing, and I think 2 things are essential:
- Know the equipment to the most intimate level by all means possible. Most sims just don’t “cut-through” enough
- Get the straight facts from Cisco itself. No greedy dump sellers, no weird or old advice from book editors. Just pure brain food from the giant itself
Now, if it is the admin’s will, I’ll get out of here. But I just hope I helped some other desperate brain(s) like mine before taking this thing, hehe. Or if anyone is not that angry with me, then let’s “route” some feedback .
By the way, what do you think about taking the CCDA certification? Is it useful? Has anyone taken it? Or how much time should I spend working outside as a CCNA? Thanks.
Re: Well, I took the 640-801. :P
13 years 9 months ago #5843
Let me first congratulate you on your CCNA achievement. All certified people know what it take to prepare of the exam and pass with flying colours, just like you did.
Secondly, it seems like you were mistaken in your assumption about the post and fell in the 15% We encourage discussions about certifications and their content! It's when people start using the forums as 'cert dumps' that we do not accept.
I personally must agree on many points you've made throughout your post, the biggest being the equipment one should use to help get that 'hands on' experience most people cannot have. We totally understand this need and is the reason we've spent a lot of money purchasing equipment for our members to use in our upcoming Cisco Lab.
Closing, we look forward to more members sharing their CCNA experience, helping others considering the exam, prepare much better for it!
Re: Well, I took the 640-801. :P
13 years 9 months ago #5979
A very good review.. what on earth made you think you would get banned
This is the kind of discussion we encourage.
As Chris said we don't tolerate dump-posting.. those poor posters don't even realise that part of your agreement with Cisco when you take the test is that they can invalidate your certificate if they find you spreading the questions.