jrensink78 Fri, 05/02/2008 - 06:39
User Badges:

I passed the CCNA 2 years ago without a lab.

I used the Cisco Press exam prep guides for each test as well as the Sybex guide from Todd Lamlle. Each of these came with practice tests that included simulation questions. I was able to pass both tests on the first try using only these materials, and with no prior Cisco experience. So it's definitely possible to do.

There are probably 2 main benefits to having a lab when it comes to preparing for the certification tests. The first would be so you can practice for handling the simulation questions. The second is to help you learn the concepts covered in the test to help you answer the regular questions. Being able to read something and then actually do it will accelerate your learning and really help the information to sink in.

There are definite benefits to having a lab. But at the CCNA level, I wouldn't call it a requirement.

jim_berlow Fri, 05/02/2008 - 08:02
User Badges:
  • Bronze, 100 points or more

I have to strongly disagree here. You MUST have access to equipment or simulators to stand a reasonable chance at passing the CCNA. I realize that things were different a couple years ago, but the harsh reality today is that the exams have simulators which will trip you up if you have never touched a router command line. Old 2500 / 2600 models are very easy to come by on ebay and should meet nearly anyone's budget.

The other poster points out some of the benefits to having a lab and I completely agree with his points with regards to practiciig what you are reading. But I do feel that it is a requirement to passing the CCNA exam. Fact is if an employer hires you and you have a CCNA they expect that you have worked on the equipment and know things like what a DCE/DTE cable looks like.

Good Luck!

jrensink78 Fri, 05/02/2008 - 10:13
User Badges:

Passing the test and preparing for the real world/jobs are 2 separate things. People pass the CCNA all the time without having their own home lab. It makes the job harder, but it's definitely possible.

Having practice tests with simulation questions in them will give you some comfort using the CLI. It's not ideal, as you are very limited in what you can do. But you get a little practice.

If I was doing it over again today, I would buy a lab. There are lots of very low cost options that will let you practice most topics in the CCNA. Unless you are totally cash strapped, spend the money. When you are done with your CCNA, you can always sell it back on ebay.

jim_berlow Fri, 05/02/2008 - 11:14
User Badges:
  • Bronze, 100 points or more

Certification is designed to validate skills that an individual already possesses. Copied directly from the CCNA information page:

"The Cisco CCNA network associate certification validates the ability to install, configure, operate, and troubleshoot medium-size routed and switched networks, including implementation and verification of connections to remote sites in a WAN."

The way that I interpret that is that a certified CCNA should already have the ability to do the above mentioned items and the CCNA is just a way to measure that level of skill. If I am a prospective employer hiring a CCNA, I would expect that a CCNA meets the qualifications listed above and has actually worked with the equipment. If the CCNA simply meant that a person can work a simulator Cisco would specifically say that.

I have people on this forum talk about instituting hands-on practical labs for all Cisco certifications. While I like the idea, the drawback I see is that this would be costly to Cisco and would greatly increase the cost to the candidate to take the test. Not to mention the fact this would require personnel to maintain this racks.

With this in mind, I think that the simulator is a useful testing mechanism to certify an individual's ability to configure various tasks. I do not think this means that candidates should only use practice test simulator's in leiu of practical hands-on.

Just my 2 cents.

jrensink78 Mon, 05/05/2008 - 10:05
User Badges:

What you quoted is Cisco's intent for their CCNA certification test. But intent doesn't always match up with results. The result of the way that Cisco chooses to implement the CCNA tests does allow those people with skills and experience to pass the tests. But it also allows other people to pass the tests as well. The whole reason that certifications have become so devalued in many people's eyes is because test methods don't adequately exclude the people who don't have the proper skills and experience.

People can pass the tests without having ever seen a piece of Cisco equipment. People can pass the tests without having ever been in an authentic IOS CLI environment. So if someone asks if it is possible to pass the tests without a lab, the answer is yes.

But, if someone wants to do more than just pass the test and actually build up some experience that would be useful when it comes to getting/doing a job, it's pretty hard to beat hands-on experience. I think everyone interested in making Cisco networking their career should have a lab of their own, or have access to one. Practicing using only practice test simulation questions might get a person by in passing the test. But it won't do much good in the real world.

brianjpisa Mon, 05/05/2008 - 11:49
User Badges:
  • Bronze, 100 points or more

I passed on my first attempt back in Dec. '06. I took the 1 test option and passed barely. I only used 1 Cisco 1600 router to practice on and the Cisco press books by Wendell Odom. Those books included the Net Simulator with practice questions. When practicing on the router, I configured whatever feature I was learning (OSPF, EIGRP, frame-relay, etc). Then I knew the theory inside and out and trusted that I did it correctly. Also, I was working with PIX's alot, so that helped. I never had any real world problems that I couldn't handle easily with the knowledge I learned. It all depends on how good you study/interpret and how much you study. I studied for at least 2 hours (no TV on) on weekdays for 3 months. I recently completed my CCNP and going for the CCIE R&S. So it is possible, but I don't know about the new CCNA test...it looks harder. My suggestion if you do not have the money to buy real equipment, get dynamips. It is the best thing since sliced bread....at least for me it is.

Eric Hansen Fri, 05/09/2008 - 05:40
User Badges:

I passed the CCNA with little or no labs, however I do have some real world experience. Right after I passed the test the very first thing on my mind was "I should have done a lot more labs."


tj.mitchell Fri, 05/09/2008 - 08:57
User Badges:
  • Bronze, 100 points or more

I read the sybex books and passed the exam, no labs. This was back in 2000 though..


This Discussion