Overview of CCNA(Cisco Certified Network Associate)

Overview of CCNA(Cisco Certified Network Associate)
Written by Shuvhojit DebNovember 25, 2021
11 min read
Shuvhojit Deb

Full Stack Developer

In this article, we can know everything about CCNA.

What is CCNA?

CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) is a certification from Cisco, the world’s most famous company for manufacturing and selling networking equipment. This certification helps you to become familiar with a wide range of topics, such as:

  • TCP/IP model
  • Switches and routers
  • Network utilities (ping, tracert, arp)
  • IP addressing and subnetting
  • VLANs and trunking
  • Routing protocols such as OSPF
  • WLAN
  • NAT and ACLs
  • Automation and programmability


Where to take the exam?

To take the CCNA exam you have to schedule a test appointment through Pearson VUE, an electronic testing company. Pearson VUE has many authorized testing centers throughout the world and you can locate a test center in your vicinity. Since the COVID pandemic, it has also been possible to take the exam at home using your laptop. If you want to take the home option then you need to meet the testing requirements which include being monitored through your webcam.

The exam is available in English and Japanese and lasts for 120 minutes. After finishing the test you will immediately get the results. Cisco provides just the basic information about your score, so you can’t be sure which questions you got right or wrong!

Benefits of CCNA certificate

The main benefits of passing the CCNA exam include the following:

Knowledge: Those passing the exam shows they have a base level of knowledge about how to run a network.

Skills: A person passing the CCNA exam gets in-depth practice in a range of tasks and skills.

Credibility: With the CCNA certification on a resume, potential employers see that a candidate has validation from Cisco and is familiar with a breadth of Cisco networking products.

Updating skills: Taking and passing the CCNA is valuable even for seasoned IT professionals, as it keeps them up to date on developments in networking.

Pay: Attaining a new IT certification, on average, leads to a nearly $13,000 salary increase, according to Global Knowledge's "2020 IT Skills and Salary Report."

Versatility: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that the demand for IT professionals is increasing. This makes CCNA a valuable certification to get, as it is adaptable to various IT career paths.

How to prepare for CCNA Exam?

Set a Course of Study

The first order of business should be to set the direction for your study. Cisco offers a syllabus for the CCNA certification, with a list of topics that are covered. Review this list, print it out and post it, and use it as your guide in crafting your course of study. Remember— if it's not on the syllabus, it's not on the exam, so limit your studies to the topics that Cisco highlights.

Identify Your Weaknesses

A good next step is to identify those areas where you’re weakest (hint: try a practice exam to help identify those areas) and make them the focus of your study and practice. Highlight those areas, and set a specific goal towards gaining a good understanding of each. Don’t necessarily neglect your areas of strength completely (you don’t want to forget what you’ve already learned!), but by turning your weaknesses into strengths you can dramatically increase your chances of passing the CCNA exam.

Make Time for Study

The CCNA isn’t an easy exam to pass, and it covers a lot of ground. And, like any technical discipline, if you don’t work at it consistently, your knowledge and skills will fade. Set aside a consistent, regular time for study, and make sure that you keep to it. Granted, it can be hard to keep this time blocked out, especially with all of the daily responsibilities and distractions that we all deal with. But the key to passing the CCNA is frequent and consistent study and practice, so it’s critical that you set this time aside, limit your distractions, and stick to the task at hand.

Focus on the Details

It’s not enough to know the theory behind the concepts presented in the CCNA curriculum. To successfully pass the CCNA exam, you need to how to complete tasks and understand how things get done in the world of Cisco. That’s an important point because general networking concepts and the way Cisco does things are not always the same—so it’s important to understand the details and specific methods and procedures for implementing different networking technologies, within the Cisco environment.

Get Access to Gear

This point can't be stressed enough. A big portion of the CCNA exam consists of completing tasks on simulated routers and switches, just as you’ll do in real life. That’s why you must get practice time (preferably a lot of it) on Cisco equipment so that you can implement what you study within the actual Cisco IOS environment. You can buy or rent pre-configured sets of actual Cisco routers and switches that contain all of the equipment you’ll need to practice for the exam, and these sets are not as expensive as you might think.

Also, there are some excellent simulators out there, that let you configure virtual routers and switches from your personal computer. Take a look at Packet Tracer, which is an excellent tool available from the Cisco Academy, and Graphical Network Simulator 3 (GNS3), which is a free open-source tool that provides a simulated Cisco IOS environment (you can also use it to simulate the Juniper JunOS platform as well).

Practice All of the Topics on the Exam, Firsthand

Once your practice environment is up and running, make sure you take full advantage of it and practice implementing every protocol and configuration possible, so that you can see how everything works on the actual gear. Remember, things in real life don’t always work the same as they do 'on paper, and just because a book or guide tells you that a given configuration will produce a given result, nothing beats seeing it for yourself, especially on those (hopefully rare) occasions when the books get it wrong.

The key to passing the CCNA exam is preparation and lots of it. To pass the test, you’ll need to understand networking theory, facts, and practice, and be able to readily utilize the Cisco IOS interface, including specific commands and syntax. But, if you take the time to truly learn the material and get to know your way around Cisco routers and switches beforehand, you should find the test relatively easy to pass.

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