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by: Seema Kannan
The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Certification is meant for career enhancement as well as gaining knowledge of the LAN/WAN technologies currently available for implementation. Hence, CCNA Certification can be obtained by IT professionals who have been a part of the industry for a considerable time and are interested in furthering their career in terms of role enhancement and salary. Individuals who are beginning their career and want to move towards LAN/WAN management may also pursue the certification, as it is a basic level certification and there are no prerequisites.
Details About CCNA Certification
The CCNA Certification is an ideal foundation in the field of networking. CCNA Certification equips professionals with skills to select, install, configure, troubleshoot, and operate LAN/WAN, and dial access services for small networks. CCNA Certification also equips professionals with the knowledge to employ access lists and use of protocols such as IP, IGRP, Serial, Frame Relay, IP RIP, VLANs, RIP, and basics of the Ethernet Technology, purpose and use of Access Lists.
Pre Requisites: Nil
The CCNA exam has no pre requisites. The aspirant should be comfortable with basic concepts of LAN for his/her own convenient approach to the exam.
CCNA Exam Options
Single Exam Option
640-801 CCNA: Introduction to Cisco Networking Technologies and Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices
Multiple Exams option
- 641-821 INTRO Beta: Introduction to Cisco Networking Technologies (INTRO)
- 640-811 ICND: Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices
The recommended course(s)/training From Cisco are:
Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices (ICND 2.0 or ICND 2.1 )
Introduction to Cisco Networking Technologies ( INTRO )
With the retirement of 640-607 in September 2003, the available options to recertify are 640-801 or any other Professional or Cisco qualified specialist track.
CCNA certifications are valid for three years.
Accepting the terms of Cisco Career Certification and Confidentiality Agreement is a very important part of obtaining Cisco Certification, failing which the application processing of certification may be halted.
The 640-801 is the exam available for aspirants pursuing Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Certification. Since 640-607 has retired, the article solely concentrates on the 640-801. The CCNA (640-801) exam focuses on the Interconnecting Cisco Network Devices (ICND) course as well as the new Introduction to Cisco Networking Technologies (INTRO) course. The courses and the exam ensure that the successful candidate has the important knowledge and skills necessary to select, connect, configure, and troubleshoot the various Cisco networking devices. The exam also includes topics on Extending Switched Networks with VLANS, Determining IP Routes, Managing IP traffic with Access Lists, Establishing Point-to-Point connections, and Establishing Frame Relay Connections.
The following topics listed are the most likely ones on which the testing will focus during the exam. Topics related to this may probably be tested further in detail too.
Planning & Designing
- Design a simple LAN using Cisco Technology
- Design an IP addressing scheme to meet design requirements
- Select an appropriate routing protocol based on user requirements
- Design a simple internetwork using Cisco technology
- Develop an access list to meet user specifications
- Choose WAN services to meet customer requirements
- Implementation & Operation
- Configure routing protocols, given user requirements
- Configure IP addresses, subnet masks, and gateway addresses on routers and hosts
- Configure a router for additional administrative functionality
- Configure a switch with VLANS and inter-switch communication
- Implement a LAN
- Customize a switch configuration to meet specified network requirements
- Manage system image and device configuration files
- Perform an initial configuration on a router
- Perform an initial configuration on a switch
- Implement access lists
- Implement simple WAN protocols
- Utilize the OSI model as a guide for systematic network troubleshooting
- Perform LAN and VLAN troubleshooting
- Troubleshoot routing protocols
- Troubleshoot IP addressing and host configuration
- Troubleshoot a device as part of a working network
- Troubleshoot an access list
- Perform simple WAN troubleshooting
- Describe network communications using layered models
- Describe the Spanning Tree process
- Compare and contrast key characteristics of LAN environments
- Evaluate the characteristics of routing protocols
- Evaluate TCP/IP communication process and its associated protocols
- Describe the components of network devices
- Evaluate rules for packet control
- Evaluate key characteristics of WANs
Since troubleshooting is very simplified and methodic when the OSI layered model concepts are clear, the extensive focus on the OSI model still remains in 640-801 exam along with the rest of the basic content. The enhancement is in the Dial on Demand Routing (DDR) and the Config-register and some switching concepts.
The CCNA exam I took had 58 questions to be answered in 90 minutes with a passing score of 849. The exam may have question numbers ranging from 55 to 65. The time allotted will be 90 minutes and the pattern of questions may vary from exam to exam, i.e., depending on the number of questions against the time given, the number of multiple-choice response, drag-and-drop and simulators may vary.
There will be router/switch simulator questions, many multiple choice questions and a few drag-and-drop questions along with a few multiple choice single response and fill in the blank type of questions.
When switching between the simulator-based questions and the rest of the exam, the simulator engine may seem a little slow. For some simulator-based questions, you will be presented with scenarios. You need to remember configuration commands and listing commands to grasp the scenarios and troubleshoot them. Remember to have a blank sheet on which you can mark important points and remember to save any changes you make on the simulator relating to the configuration. The simulator is very much like the real one on the routers and switches except that abbreviated editing and help commands may not be available. Ensure that you do not try these abbreviated commands and waste time, it is always better to use the entire syntax of any command you may be required to use.
Some concepts like the OSI model, the Access lists, the Subnetting etc, are the type of questions that may be time consuming, as they require single-minded concentration, very clear basics and some amount of calculation. The scenario type of questions needs an eye for detailed and clear analytical abilities. Be clear with the command line configuration commands and their switches and have an insight to the kind of testing the vendor may employ. That should help you have a CCNA certificate under your belt.
The various testing methods a vendor (Prometric in this case) may employ are as follows (pertaining to the CCNA exam):
Single-Response Multiple Choices
The simplest one of the lot, usually comes in between many complicated questions to relax your brains and prepare you for the worst to come, sometimes may not fetch much score. If you are not aware of the answer, do not waste time guessing it. Skip the question and move to the next. It is the most common question type used in most exams, the response choices will be adjacent to radio buttons, this indicates there can be only one correct answer to the question.
Multiple-Response Multiple Choice
Checkboxes will replace radio buttons to indicate that there can be more than one choice to the correct answer, and it may range from two up to four at times. The questions may at times, state the number of correct choices. But the tricky part is when the question states, choose all that apply. Here, even if one choice is skipped the answer may not be complete and may not fetch the desired score.
Another hint here is, more number of choices presented to the candidate to choose from, more may be the choices, when compared with usual. If there are 5 or 6 choices presented, it means there will be at least 3 correct choices out of the available choices.
Fill in the Blank
The standard fill in the blank may have a single choice answer. It may also have 3 blanks to be filled and all three in a single choice, making it a single response or may have the three blanks mentioned as three individual choices too, making it a multiple response type of a question. In other words the fill in the blanks question may be a single response or a multiple response with definitely multiple choice to choose from.
With this type, a number of elements may be presented and you may be required to drag the element from its current placeholder to the appropriate location on the screen to arrive at the correct choice of answer. You will usually be presented with more items than required to complete the picture, to confuse the correct choice. This type of a question may appear as a graphical match the following or a logical diagram of a particular process or theory slightly out of place, which you may have to re arrange.
These types of questions simulate the administrative environment and are very similar to the real one and expect you to carry out an administrative task to complete the question task. For example, you may be presented with a hyper terminal screen and asked to remotely configure a switch or a router as you would in real environment using the relevant commands. The final result will be graded, versus the path or the process you took to arrive at the result; therefore if the question says use the easiest method to achieve the task when there is more than one way of doing it and you choose the less easier one you will not receive the expected scoring at all.
You've learned the details about the Exam, its pattern, objectives, etc. Now it's time to learn how to master the course and prepare scientifically. You can do that with the help of CCNA Exam Preparation Guide.
Well, with all this information you are well armed to take up the CCNA 640-801 exam and score well too!!! Best of Luck!!!
Useful Reference Resources
- CCNA Official Cisco Course Ware
- Cisco Press books
- Sybex Series
Discussion Forums and Groups
Even though you have access to all the resources listed above, you may want to hear about the experiences of other people. There are places for these too:
- Exam notes
- Whizlabs CCNA Certification Forum
There are many ways to prepare for certification exams, one of them being through the use of exam simulators.
Check out Whizlabs CCNA 640-801 Exam Simulator
Besides identifying your weak areas, and giving you a feel of the exam environment, Whizlabs Exam Simulator nurtures your potential to acquire domain expertise so that you not only succeed in your certification exam but succeed in your career too.
About The Author
Seema Kannan is a certified professional having 10 years of experience in the IT industry, currently running her independent IT Consultancy Company in India. She is certified in Novell and Cisco Certifications and has been contributing in different areas of implementation, maintenance, and training on networks of Microsoft, Novell, and Cisco. She has gained a vast experience in the domains of corporate training, network administration, and content authoring and development. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whizlabs (http://www.whizlabs.com), an ISO Certified company, is a leading provider of IT skill assessment and certification exam preparation tools. Whizlabs' suite of offerings include "IT Certification Exam simulators and Instructor-led, Online Trainings" for various exams by Sun, IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, BEA, Cisco, and other leading IT vendors and "IT skill Assessment Management Solution" for Corporations, Training Institutes, and Universities.
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