ouch -- failed CCNA -- suggestions for passing ?

Unanswered Question
Jun 11th, 2009

Wow, I am so mad right now. I have paid out $2000 for training classes and they are a joke ! They just seem to touch on the basics, so why bother with them.

So I read the ICND1 and ICND2 books cover to cover in preparation for the test and I still failed with 750, needing 820 to pass. Just took my free re-take and scored 700. 2nd exam was much tougher so I think Cisco picks on you the second time around. I swear some of the questions are so misleading it is crazy ! The time clock caused me to panic as well, I just don't work as fast as I used to I guess.

Any thoughts on how to pass this crazy test ? I have subnetting down and am an ace on the WAN stuff. I have Test King and the exam engine given with the ICND books. Also have a Lammle's simulator from 2003. But ??? I'm still failing.

I have this problem too.
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nstahlman Thu, 06/11/2009 - 17:39

I just had to renew my CCNA as I accidently let it expire and I agree with you the new test was about 3 times harder than the original. Although there is material added to the new test my biggest issue was the confusing questions.

I read bits and pieces of both ICDN1 and ICDN2 books and used practice tests on the CDs from the books as well as ones from Transcender.

Hope that helps,


marikakis Thu, 06/11/2009 - 22:16

CCNA exam has become more and more difficult over the years. Me and a friend passed CCIE SP Written the previous January (he is also a CCIE R/S). We agreed that the CCNA exam has been the most difficult exam we have faced so far. I laughed out loud when he admitted while holding his head in despair: This exam (the CCNA) is unbelievably difficult!

Advanced exams need more knowledge, but the level of difficulty of the questions at the particular level of knowledge is less. In my opinion the CCNA exam message is the following: You need to know the basics very very well. So, take your time to study for the CCNA and it will pay in the following exams you might consider taking. I think the CCNA Exam Certification Guide from Cisco Press (by Wendell Odom) is fine to pass it. The accompanying CD has some useful material and the test engine seemed pretty hard to me.

Generally I could say I prefer Cisco Press titles for exam preparation. They have most of the information you need to pass an exam, and one way or the other you end up reading them, so why delay the inevitable? Efforts to take other shortcuts in many cases result in more total study time (you end up reading everything there is + cisco material).

jimmysands73_2 Thu, 06/11/2009 - 22:17

I noticed you said "So I read the ICND1 and ICND2..."

You need to read, practice, troubleshot, configure, design....to simply read wont cut it.

I took all four classes at a community college here in Vegas, got 3 A's and 1 B (B in WAN Exploration)...in Cisco NetAcad program....taking real CCNA test in 6 days, will report in. I would highly recommend the NetAcad program to anyone.

eehinesee Sun, 06/14/2009 - 08:22

I just passed my CCNA on the first try. I'm retraining myself from systems engineering and have no prior networking experience. So how did I do this?

1) I studied (not just read--I know you didn't man you just gave them a once-over and went for the test, but the books have to be studied very hard) Wendell Odom's ICND1/2 books. His books have some errors and contradictions, and it's a useful learning exercise to identify these and to understand just what the errors are. And to be right on this--there were several other times when I thought he'd made a mistake and it turned out the error was mine. I studied these books cover to cover five times.

2) I did the tests--both in study mode and in test mode--that came with the books. Lots of times. When I started memorizing the answers, I started forcing myself to think through each question and each answer--why was this answer wrong? why was that answer right?

3) I dropped a dime on Boson's CCNA practice exam--it's a suite of 6 tests, and these come at you with a slightly different question structure, and they have questions about areas that aren't in Odom's books. And I went through these with the same focus I used on the books' exams.

4) I took the practice exams on Cisco's CCNA site. Some of these are strolls in the park, but they also asked about areas I'd not yet encountered.

5) I went through the learning modules--on Cisco's CCNA site. These also had some nuggets I'd not encountered.

All this took me about 7 months to get through--I think that's excessively slow, and my newness to the field contributed heavily to that. On the other hand, maybe my newness meant I didn't have any bad habits to over come.

Eric Hines

rahmanya17 Mon, 06/15/2009 - 15:04


Sorry to hear your sad news regarding the CCNA. Believe me that exam is very heard to pass but don't be discouraged! I passed it on my 3rd attempt! What I will recommend is the Cisco press books and also I find Todd Lammle's CCNA study guide 6th edition very resourceful! if you can read I read that book twice and practice all the labs using packet tracer! this helped me tackle most of the simulation questions in the exam.

All the best mate!

richlohman Mon, 06/15/2009 - 18:16

First, sorry to hear of your demise. Second, throw TestKing away. Third, you're right; the 'bootcamps' really aren't all they're cracked up to be, especially for the price[1].

So, how to pass... You said you had ICND1 and 2 texts. Were these from Wendell Odom? If not, get the Odom books (about $60 for the set of two). Read through them twice. Next, split the exam into two - ICND1, then ICND2. That will give you the option to minimize the scope of material that you have to recall on each exam day. You'll also need a good simulator. I tried the Cisco Press Sim for ICND1, and it was really helpful to me. Had to go without it for ICND2, though - not due to be released for another week or so. Having your own equipment is obviously the preferred method, but certainly, there is a cost issue. You might also look at GNS3/Dynamips/Dynagen as a lab environment - it allows really tight practice through u-build-it virtual networks, but lacks on the switching side. Finally, once you get through the books (take notes while you read, BTW), then use the Boson practice tests on the CDs in each book. Odom provides an activation key for you to download two groups of 150 questions for each test that you can practice with. These tests are brutal, and make you feel like you'll never be ready, but take a practice test, review the chapters you're light in, take another (50 random questions, timed for 90 minutes), review again, rinse and repeat. Each time I did this, I scored higher on the Cisco exam than I did on the Boson exams.

Don't give up.

[1] Not to say that learning partners are overcharging; figure the cost of materials/facility, trainer time, and Cisco equipment necessary, and the price is fair - just really high for the amount of information that can be disseminated in a week.

champ5880 Thu, 06/18/2009 - 16:43

I just woke up from a alcohol coma after failing the exam :) Yep, I agree the Boson practice tests are great. Brutal, yes, but exactly what the test is like.

As for the learning partners, I agree there is great expense in providing a teacher for 5 days, supplying a lab, materials, etc. But the amount of time spent on inane concepts just does not do the exam justice. My class covered only Odom's ICND2 book and the teacher just dwelled on the basics. So I got the impression that I was ready. NOT ! But to be fair how could they teach the amount of material necessary in 1 week. It is impossible ! False advertising is my biggest gripe. Don't tell us we'll be ready for the test after 1 week, tell students they will need to study / practice for another month.

Lastly, I have just bought Lammle's FastPass. Fantastic book. It is really boosting my confidence again. He is covering the high points for the exam and has cleared up numerous sticky points I had with Odom's ICND1/2. A few goof's here and there but overall wonderful.

Thanks for all the great replies, nice to know I am not alone in failing the test. I will update on my 3rd try.


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