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CCNA: Is it for you? - what is CCNA?

10-10-10- (The CCNA version was updated to #640-801 in June 2003. Although this article written before then is based on the retired #640-607 exam, it still gives details of the CCNA focus.)  CCNA has again been updated in 2007. There are new exams - CCNA 640-802 and CCENT.  Learn More: CCNA 2007 Update

 

 

 

Quite a few prospective IT certification candidates have an interest in Cisco's foundation program. This is no surprise as Cisco is a popular certification sponsor. No wonder there is quite a bit of attention paid to Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA). The Exam (#640-607) replaced 640-507 as the Cisco Certified Network Associate 2.0 exam in March 2002.

What is CCNA?

But what really is CCNA? CCNA is a beginning-level program that aims to certify a solid foundation in Cisco networking. Cisco's certification programs are about certifying the competence of Internetworking professionals in routing, switching and connectivity. CCNA requires passing only one written exam (#640-607). Once this certification has been obtained, it can be a stopping point, as you've become qualified in Routing and Switching (valid for three years), or can be a starting point for a Professional-level certification.

But it is important to know why you are getting certified. For instance, do you know that for CCNA, you must have a good background in networking? In fact it is meant for anyone involved in implementing or supporting networks. A CCNA professional should be able to manage simple networked and internetworked environments incorporating routers and switches. Do you have an interest in networks or Internetworking? Do you want to work in the networking field? How does CCNA fit into your career development plan?

So what does CCNA entail? There are 55 to 65 questions asked, and and a candidate has 90 minutes to answer them with a required passing score of at least 849. Possible scores range from 300 and 1,000).

How you prepare for CCNA depends largely on your current knowledge and experience of networking. Certification preparation options include instructor-led training, e-simulations, practical labs, practice tests, study materials, etc.
If you have the funds and time, it is always advisable to include instructor-led training in your preparations.

Back to Basics

As a first step, let's go back to networking. You must be comfortable with the technical fundamentals of networking. Practical networking means being familiar with the basics of networking. Can you describe the functions of the OSI model and explain the basic differences between a hub, switch, router, and bridge?

Fundamental networking means being able to: 1) apply fundamental data communications and network concepts, 2) identify different types of networks and network topologies, 3) share resources such as printers on a network, 4) install and configure Network components, 5) identify the differences between types of networks, 6) install and configure networks, and 7) troubleshoot network problems with proven techniques that are efficient and effective
It is absolutely essential that you have a good foundation in the fundamentals of networking.

Let us look into CCNA in more detail:
The objectives for CCNA can be divided into eight categories. You are expected to master all the categories:

 

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