5 Tips: How to Prepare for the CCNA

5 Tips: How to Prepare for the CCNA

The Cisco Certified Network Associate abbreviated as the CCNA is a top IT security certification. It is also one of the most respected certifications in the technology industry and helps candidates boot their careers with better jobs and higher earnings.

The exam rigorously tests both the practical and theoretical knowledge of the students. In this article, I’ll be discussing five tips that can help you prepare for the exam and be in a better position to pass. 

How long does it take to prepare for the CCNA?

CCNA has an extensive syllabus and your diligence is what will determine how long it’ll take you to get ready for the exam. Cisco has authorized courses for the exam. These courses will require about 10 days of classroom time to complete.

But completing the classes is just the beginning. You are going to need more time to study and fully understand the topics and their concepts. The exam tests whether you really understand what you’ve learned or are just cramming materials. 

Your diligence will determine your study time. The more time you are able to dedicate to studying, the faster you’ll be ready for the exam. There is also the less obvious forget-before-the-exam issue which will require you to go over earlier materials. 

If you are very diligent and spend about 10 hours a week to study (which is frankly a lot for most people), then 10-15 weeks will be needed for reading, watching video tutorials, taking practice exams, discussing in communities and forums, practicing hands-on skills and subnetting, review, and so on.

10-15 weeks is a long time and you would have forgotten some of what you’ve learned earlier which makes revision necessary.

Putting the study time above into consideration, you’ll be ready for the exam in 3-4 months. But said study time isn’t realistic for most people, so the time needed to be ready for the exam may be closer to 6 months or even longer. 

5 tips on how to prepare for the CCNA

He who fails to plan plans to fail is a very popular saying that applies to CCNA. Yes, it’s very nice to have CCNA on your resume but the exam is challenging and requires a lot of time and effort.

But you can pass this exam with the right focus and preparation. Many people have taken the exam before you and passed which means passing the exam is an achievable goal. 

Below are tips that you’ll find useful as you prepare for your CCNA examination. 

  1. Find routine accountability

Routines are very important as they help you get into flow, build consistent habits, reduce uncertainty, and give you structure. One of the things you have to do when preparing for CCNA exam is to have a routine that has frequent and consistent study and practice time.

You have to limit limitations and stick to the task at hand. Your study time should be a non-negotiable part of your routine. I know it’s difficult to set aside a consistent and regular time for study especially with all the distractions and daily responsibilities we deal with.

However, you should try to have your study time blocked out. 

The key to passing CCNA is consistent study and practice. Develop a routine that brings you closer to your goal of passing CCNA and stick to it. 

  1. Become passionate about the technology

Passion is a word we are all too familiar with. The dictionary definition of passion is “a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something”.

And it’ll be extremely beneficial to you if you have some enthusiasm for CCNA. This will help you find the study and preparation process interesting or at least not outright boring. So how can you become passionate about CCNA?

You have to get yourself familiarized with the technology and how it’s going to help you as a person and also your career. You are probably into tech and like it before deciding to get a CCNA certification. Or perhaps you just want more knowledge.

There are many aspects involved in CCNA like WAN technologies, infrastructure security, and so on. Don’t just be focussed on passing, care about the process too.

  1. Start with a small study habit 

You need a study plan which will depend on how much time you are going to dedicate to studying. If you are in college full time or currently working, you may not have a lot of time to dedicate to studying for your CCNA exam.

But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a study plan as you just need to create one that works for you. Go through the subjects and topics you need to cover and allocate days, weeks, or hours you are available to work on them. 

It’s important you start with a small study habit so you don’t overwhelm yourself at the beginning. Then you can expand your study habit as time goes on. 

  1. Create Labs and Take Practices Exams

You need lab practice to get real-world experience using Cisco products as well as understanding the more advanced topics like troubleshooting, routing, and switching better.

The benefits of a hands-on approach to learning are well-known as it makes concepts easier to understand and less abstract. You are also less likely to forget things you did and saw with your eyes. 

I must mention that lab questions are allocated the most points in the CCNA exam so you have to take labs very seriously. A network simulator will help you better understand the lab topics as topics are not only listed but are also available to demo in a virtual environment. 

Practice exams are the ultimate test to know if you are ready for the CCNA exam. You’ll learn how to manage your time in the exam, be aware of your weak points, and also get familiar with the type of questions to expect in the exam.

Practice exams generally sharpen your skills and boost your confidence which is key to any exam. Some people are ready for the main exam but won’t know since they fail to take practice questions. And they end up over-studying. 

  1. Schedule the Exam when the Practice Exams make Sense

The good thing about CCNA exam is that there are no specific dates. When you are ready for the exam, you visit the nearest Pearson VUE Exam center and schedule an exam appointment.

You should schedule the exam when you’ve got the hang of the practice questions and have been getting good points consistently. 

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