What to use to prepare for CCNA?

Unanswered Question
May 8th, 2010

I took my CCNA in 2000. I only missed one and scored a 958. Today, I failed my CCNA. I didn't even score in the 800's. I have over 10 years experience. I work for a major service provider in the US. I read the CCNA Exam Cram book, the Cisco Press ICDN1 and ICDN2 books, completed the Cisco Press router simulation software, took between 1200 - 1500 test questions comprised from Cisco Press, Exam Cram, Pass4sure, and Test King. I scored in the 90% on ALL of those practice tests. So, what is going on? How are people passing this? Are they just lucky at guessing whatever answer the test says it is? One thing I noticed, is that there were a lot of mistakes in all of the practice questions I took. I even e-mailed one of the companies offering to show them which ones were wrong and why (of course they never responded). At one time I had passed 3 of the 4 CCNP tests as well. So, it's not like I don't know what I'm doing or have any experience. What are people using to pass this test? I thought I had the best by reading the latest CCNA Cisco Press series, but evidentally not. So, I'd like to hear from others what they're using and what worked for them. I'm highly discouraged in the Cisco Press materials and will never recommend them to anyone going forward. Any help would be appreciated.


I have this problem too.
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adimcse2000 Sat, 05/08/2010 - 13:21

hi,i passed ccna in dec 2009.i used sybex 6th edtion written by todd lammle,ccna cbt nuggets,trainsignal ccna video and wendel ondom icnd1 and 2.it should be enough for your studies.

Kent Heide Sun, 05/09/2010 - 05:48

With 10 years of experience I would expect you to pass the CCIE written :-)

Maybe you did not read the question thouroughly enough? Maybe you had weak spots on the blueprint. I don't know. But I think it sounds kind of weird that you are failing this with the background you are coming from.

jshojayi Mon, 05/10/2010 - 10:37

I thought about getting Todd's book, but decided to go with the Cisco Press material. I know Todd has a good

reputation for that test.

9 years ago I was on an IP architecture team. There were 9 of us. 4 CCIE's, 4 who had passed their written and waiting/studying for the exam, and me I was the low guy on the pole at the time. I had just passed 3 of the CCNP courses and was studying for the 4th test. Never did get around to taking it. So, I'm starting over again. I know the Cisco tests are tricky with their wordings and even their answers. I noticed on the Pass4Sure material that several of the answers were wrong. I sent them an e-mail asking if this was a mistake on their part or if they're simply relaying what Cisco wants to hear. I never did receive a response. So, I guess I'll check out Todd's book. I'm sure his info is more inline with the CCNA test requirements.

nevilles45 Tue, 05/18/2010 - 13:45


I've got a similiar profile to yourself, and have a similiar experience wrt taking the CCNA exam.  I think the thing to appreciate with the CCNA now compared to 10years ago when you (and I) took and passed it is that is a far more searching exam than before.  I think back then Cisco was perhaps keener to get more engineers out into the field etc.  Now, inorder to maintain the value of the cert, provide a reliable way to progress and eliminate "brain dump" engineers they have toughened up considerably.  I believe passing is about having respect for the exam and refining your exam study approach.

Personnally I follow the below it may help.

1.  Understand the exam requirements clearly.

2. Read Cisco press and Todd Lammles (these worked for me).  The two combined help explain things so that you are clear on concepts.

3. Go to other sources to learn stuff, I'm thinking subnetting, summarization and spanning tree (i used wikipedia for this one........helped loads). Sometimes the main sources don't go into enough detail and depth.  I appreciated that the CCNA required a deeper understanding of basics such as these.

4. Get hands on experience either through a Dynamips/Dynagen/GNS3 and or real kit.  Buy the lab books and go through them.

5. Develop a exam prep plan, understand your strong and weak areas through practice questions.  I have used trancenders and actual tests.  I don't think you can pass just by doing these alone, as I'm pretty sure that you can come unstuck by a few in depth questions which test your understanding of the material and not merely your memory, but they are useful for honing your knowledge.

6. Don't book a test till you are scoring 80 - 100% in all required areas.

Good luck

jshojayi Wed, 05/19/2010 - 14:25

Thanks for the feedback. I used everything you have outlined below, with the exception of Todd's book. I always scored at least 90% in all areas everytime I took any practice test. My lab is prettty good. 3 2821's, 1 3825, 3 2960G's, 2 3560's, and a 3550. All running 12.4 (latest for CCIE exam that I can find). So considering the lab and the real world ISP hands on experience, I'm covered there. I've had a couple of weeks to think about it all...I think what it came down to was me not reading the questions carefully enough and trying to zero in on what Cisco wanted to me to answer, not what may actually be real world. For instance, in the real world, the GW IP usually ends in .1, overall. Yes I'm aware it can be anything, but this is what it usually is. But Cisco doesn't ask the question in a way in which .1 is the answer. Tricky. I did also find an error on the test. It had to do with the different encapsulation types at layer 2. Only 2 of the answers were correct. The other's were incorrect. Cisco requested more than 2 be chosen. I know there's more than 2 types, but only 2 of the correct ones were listed. I verified their possible answers against the ICND Cisco Press official exam certification guide and found there's a conflict even between what they publish and what's on the test. So...I guess sometimes it just comes down to whatever they want to hear.

nevilles45 Thu, 05/20/2010 - 08:44

Indeed, I guess reading the questions a couple of times really helps and having an idea of what Cisco want to see as an answer helps too (testking/actualtests is good for this).  I've found issues with wireless on this exam.  I've noticed how they ask one or two questions which appear to require a deeper knowledge that they explain in their book (31 Days before Your CCNA exam).  Oh....well good luck.  Let me know when you finally pass :-)

burleyman Thu, 05/20/2010 - 09:47

Couple things about your posts. Actual Tests and Test King are brain dump sites and are considered cheating by Cisco, so I would watch posting that to these forums. Cisco will remove certs from people caught cheating on exams. By using these as study materials you can get wrong answers stuck in your head which could be one of your issues.

Now what to study to pass. The newer cisco press books are good and I would also use the Cisco Learning site. When I took my exam I failed the first time and what I found was my issue was I was thinking and answering as if the switches were layer 2 and 3, because that is all I work with but on the exam the switches are strictly layer 2 switches so you have to answer accordingly. Also you do need to make sure you read the question carefully because that will bite you if you are not careful.

Stick with legitimate study materials and practice and you will achive your goal.

Good luck,


nevilles45 Thu, 05/20/2010 - 11:25

Thanks for the tips re. my posts.  I don't fully endorse those resources as like you I've found that they are'nt always accurate and can lead to problems if one becomes reliant on them........nuff said.   I'll check out the Cisco learning site, I have'nt used that before, sounds interesting.

Good luck with you're exam taking   ..........



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