Okay. So, here’s the big question that every person who’s willing to take ICND1, ICND2 or CCNA-Composite Exam for the first time in their life is “How do I study and what study structure should I follow in order to take the CCNA Exam?”.

Well, the answer to this question is really simple. There’s no Einstein’s or Newton’s complicated science involved in it. It all comes down to the common sense, a bit of planning and some motivation.

First of all, gather all the information for the exam that you’re planning to take. Next thing, put it in a good presentable format, doing this bit will help you a lot in understanding what you’re really about to start and it will keep you motivated through out your certification studies. Once you’ve got all the information on the course and the exam, search for the curriculum that you will be following through out the course. Best source in my point of view is Cisco site, http://www,cisco.com/. From here you can get all the information, including curriculum, that you require for the certification you’re about to go for. Just for ease, I’ve posted all the information and the curriculum for each exam in my earlier blog posts.

Once all of the above is done. I’m glad to tell you, you’ve done most of the hectic and boring part. Now you’re ready to take the exam – but wait what about the study material, from where and what books to get to study for the exam?

Well let me put down some books to study from:

  1. Network Fundamentals, CCNA-Exploration Companion Guide by Mark Dye, Rick McDonald & Antoon Rufi.
  2. Routing Protocols and Concepts, CCNA-Exploration Companion Guide by Rick Graziani & Allan Johnson.
  3. LAN Switching and Wireless, CCNA-Exploration Companion Guide by Wayne Lewis.
  4. Accessing the WAN, CCNA-Exploration Companion Guide by Bob Vachon & Rick Graziani.

The above four books are normally used for CCNA-Exploration course. This course is detailed version of CCNA. I won’t go into details of CCNA-Exploration, just out of curiosity I’ll give you the short summary on it. CCNA-Exploration is divided into 4-parts, as you can see above. This course is theoretical and takes students into deep details of networking. With that said, it also takes up to few months to complete this course, minimum completion time is 5-6 months. After successfully completing each part, you take an exam and you get certificate upon the completion of that level. Once you complete all the levels, candidates should take either two-exams of CCNA or one composite exam, depending on candidates choice.

So, lets continue with the books.

  • CCENT/CCNA ICND1 Official Exam Certification Guide by Wendell Odom.
  • CCNA ICND2 Official Exam Certification Guide by Wendell Odom.
  • Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices, Part 1 (ICND1) by Steve McQuerry.
  • Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices, Part 2 (ICND2) by Steve McQuerry.
  • Authorized Self-Study Guide, CCNA Preparation Library by Steve McQuerry.

So after getting all the information on the certification and the books. I’d suggest you to join any online study group related to the certification you’re planning to take. The advantage of joining an online study group is you get to meet great people from all around the globe and you get to learn about new stuff regarding the certification. Another plus point of becoming a part of online study group is your motivation gets higher, the interaction with group members makes you feel comfortable with the certification and the exam, you get more focused towards the exam and you learn a lot of new things which you don’t learn from books.

So, there you go. This is all you need to get through the CCNA Exam.

Just before wrapping up, let me give you an advice on from what books to study and which I used while studying for the CCNA Exam.

I personally used Wendell Odom’s books because the author has explained each and every bit of information in easy words and gave some pretty good examples. For reference I used CCNA-Exploration books and Google. I’ve also used CBT Nuggets.

CBT Nuggets are good way to start with the certification. Jeremy Cioara, he’s the Certified Cisco Instructor for all Cisco Certifications and a part of CBT Nuggets Instructors’ Team. I’d say he’s a Legend and master-mind when it comes to Cisco. He’s CCIE and a really good instructor. The way he walks you through all the problems is just amazing, I learned a lot when I started the Cisco Certifications. I would recommend him to anyone who’s planning to go for Cisco Certifications.

So, there you go. That’s how you can prepare for the exam and if you commit yourself to the certification studies, it will take you maximum 4-weeks to master the CCNA and take exam. If you go easy with it, then 4-weeks will turn into 4-months and then years and you’ll never know what really happened.

If you want to join an online study group, let me know about it. I have an ongoing online study group on Skype with my friends and colleagues. We’ll be glad to have you as a team member in our study group.

Wish you BEST OF LUCK with your certification and if you would like more information you know how to contact me.

By M. Faraz Khan.