IT Education
Apr 4, 2024

What You Need to Know to Pass the CCNA

NGT Academy
NGT Academy

Well, February 24, 2020 has come and gone and the changes to the Cisco certification curriculum have been inactive. Lots of folks have asked questions about what to expect now that the CCNA exams changed. So, I'd like to help clarify those expectations. First of all, there's no more CCNP certification, or ICND exams. In order to get your CCNA, you must take and pass the 200-301 exam. Also, there are no more CCNA specialization certifications such as the CCNA wireless or CCNA security. Instead, all of those specialty technologies have been rolled up into a single CCNA exam. So, let's look at some of the most common questions that folks have.

How long do I have to complete the exam?

With the new exam, you've got 120 minutes, which is up 30 minutes from the previous.

How many questions are there on the exam?

There's going to be about 100 questions on the CCNA exam, which is up from 55 or 60 on the previous.

How much does the exam cost?

Currently, the exam is $300, which is down from $325 of the cost of the previous exam.

How do I sign up?

Cisco doesn't get personally involved with the testing process. Instead, they partnered with a company called Pearson VUE. You create an account, then you'd schedule the exam, choose a test center at a date and time.

What kinds of questions are there going to be on the exam?

So, all of them are going to be some form of select the answer from below. There's going to be multiple choice single answer, multiple choice, multiple answer, drag and drop, matching, fill in the blank. The CCNA exam traditionally has had two simulation questions that required you to go on the command line and actually configure something; one was a configuration task that you had to do from scratch and the other was a troubleshooting task that you had to reconfigure something to make it work. So, it's reported that there are no longer any simulation questions on that exam. There may be some questions that require you to get on the command line to issue show commands to answer questions. There's nothing that is going to require you to do any configuration tasks.

What's been added?

Most of the additions are going to be topics that come from the older CCNA specialty certifications. You're going to see a lot of network security. It's highly recommended that you take some considerable time in collecting and studying the 100+ network security terms that are described by Cisco. You're also going to see a lot of wireless routing protocols have been whittled down to only single area OSPF. However, don't be lulled into complacency thinking you need to know nothing about EIGRP, RIP, or BGP. You're not going to be asked to configure these protocols. You may be asked some general questions about them such as, what type of protocol are they or what's their administrative distance. Another big addition is a section on network automation and programmability. Cisco's made it very clear that a modern network administrator is someone who can manage and control a network using some form of automation. It was rumored that you'd have to know about Python programming. Now, that's not the case, Python programming is not tested on in the CCNA exam, it would be very helpful to understand the differences between the configuration automation tools that Cisco discusses. Also, it's a very good idea to be very familiar with the format syntax for JSON data output and YAML and XML. So, those data outputs are used when sending API's. It is very important that you know what proper syntax is and what it is not when looking at that output. The high number of questions allows Cisco to ask you about anything at all in in horrid detail. Expect to see several questions that display output from show commands asking you to identify what's the problem here or what command produces this output? Expect questions asking about the IP route table. Which route would be used to reach route x x x x when there's more than one route to that destination. What does O E2 mean? You also need to be very familiar with the GUI of a wireless LAN controller knowing what tabs you're going to be using to configure the different things such as a VLAN interface or a WLAN.

What hasn't changed?

Strangely worded questions that require you to read them three or four times in order to understand what they're asking questions in which they're seemingly more than one correct answer. But remember, one is more correct than the other questions in which there seemingly is no correct answer. But again, one is less wrong than all the others. There may be questions that have a weight of zero and don't count for or against you. There are going to be some questions that require you to access a device via command line, but it's just going to be the issue show commands to answer questions. So, I'm not going to say that the new exam is harder than the old one, or that the old one was harder than the new one. They're certainly different. I'm going to add that the CCNA is still one of the most highly regarded entry level networking certifications. So, the CCNA can be that gateway certification to a career in a wide variety of IT technologies. The CCNA training here at NexGenT is geared towards helping you pass the CCNA exam, as well as becoming very proficient at the skills required to make one successful in a networking environment. So, don't let the recent changes to the CCNA change your mind. Go for it. Start now and push forward. Before you know it, you'll be certified and moving into a career changing your life forever. So, the ideas in your head right now, act on it, go out and get that certification. Good luck.

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