Title: CCNA Routing & Switching Exam Success Strategy
Authors: Vivek Tiwari & Dean Bahizad
Published: February 2013
Edition: 1st Edition
Reviewer: Arani Mukherjee
For those of you who have read the review of the author’s “Your CCIE Lab Success Strategy”, Dean Bahizad and Vivek Tiwari don’t need any introduction. Their non technical guides have propelled many aspirants towards their Cisco goals while dispelling myths and fears they would have encountered on the way to success. Their current offering is no less informative and spectacular in literary value. Both being double CCIEs, the authors unravel their experiences of the first steps to their current status. Being a CCNA is the foundation of a career in networking, namely in handling Cisco based devices. This non technical guide enables novices and experts alike in taking the formative steps towards gaining their first certification, or retaining it.
Before I start delving deeper into the chapters, I must mention something which immediately caught my attention. Being a trainee pilot and an aviation enthusiast, I was absolutely delighted to see that the authors chose analogies, examples, terms and phrases from flying an aircraft. I must admit, both aviation and networking are two fields which are very close to my heart, and to see such perfect symbiosis of these fields in terms of explanation was very refreshing.
The entire layout of the guide is done as if the reader is about to embark upon a flight. For me, this was one of the most exciting features. I could, on every step, recall and associate the analogies that were drawn to show resemblance between flying a plane and preparing for CCNA.
Just as a pilot would have to organise and perform several critical safety checks on the aircraft before flight, the authors explain how one must prepare in terms of budget, strategies, training plan and schedules. This guide allays all fears about CCNA myths and, even while admitting that achieving a CCNA is difficult, will manage to convince readers that it is not impossible. It talks about scenarios, categorising aspirants into groups based on their previous experiences in networking, and formulates a specific study plan for each group. And then it shows what the exam is going to throw at you when you are ready for the final phase.
Flying a plane only becomes easy when you know exactly what to do and when to do it. It’s all about preparation, checks on factors that are beyond your control, like weather etc., and then creating a flight plan which will take you to your destination. This guide treats the path to CCNA in that same format. But this similarity does not end here. The guide also confirms the fact that it is not only important to make a plan, but also to stick to it. It is quite analogous to sticking to a flight plan once you have it cleared with the air traffic controller. Any deviation has to be managed, controlled, and compensated for. Likewise, deviation from the study plan needs to be controlled and compensated as well.
The guide talks about how to manage obstacles, which are like turbulences encountered by a plane. Air turbulence is an imbalance which can quite easily disrupt the smooth flight. Any obstacle can disturb the flow of learning as well. So when you are flying, you make adjustments to the aircraft and tweak it, so that it can withstand this turbulent air and fly away to a much smoother atmosphere. Obstacles are there to challenge us, a way of telling us ‘Let’s see how resolute you are in your objectives’. Our response should always be in the form of overcoming them with ease, a way of showing that ‘You can’t stop me now’.
The guide says that a mentor is like an air traffic controller. I couldn’t agree more. Just like my air traffic controller would constantly remind me of my altitude, speed and direction, a mentor is a contact check and balance arrangement to ensure you are always on the right path.
The guide helps us embark on this flight to reach our CCNA, but then this flight has to be on time as well. You must set an estimated time of arrival, or ETA, for your exam. If you don’t set one, then you will run out of enthusiasm and that’s like running out of fuel. A schedule is not to be made and then forgotten, but to be adhered to. This helps in reaching that exam date with much ease. Depending on your experience, the guide encourages you to employ multiple choices in speed of preparation, very aptly named as MACH 1, MACH 2, or warp speed!!!
I found sheer perfection in similarities when this guide talks about how to use labs like flight simulators, or when it shows how to start preparing for a landing, as one would start preparing for the actual exam. I also firmly believe in a “healthy body for a sound mind”, a virtue which has been extolled several times in this book.
This guide is the perfect companion for someone who has to go through the different phases of preparation, examination and certification. When all of these phases are in place, and work in the right order, you can happily enjoy the fruits of your labour in the form of the CCNA certificate. That’s when you turn around and start planning your next flight, a CCNP perhaps?
I am currently preparing for renewing my own CCNA. This book could not have come to me at a better time. I went through the ‘What we did’ sections to gain an insight into how the authors themselves prepared. This was a wealth of knowledge in itself. The book ends on the note of how to spruce up your CV and prepare for the interview as well. This book could not have been better rounded in its approach. This guide is a must have for everyone who has their sights set on CCNA because it shows to how to prepare, take off and have a smooth landing. So when I renew my CCNA, and I am actually flying again, it would remind me of my journey to the certification. Hats off to both authors, they have presented another marvel again.