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What to study for the CCNA?

What to study for the CCNA?

What to study for the CCNA?

Good Morning,

Yesterday I sat my 70-290 MCP, which makes my grand total of certifications the following;


    • IT: Essentials
    • CCNA Discovery 1
    • CCNA Exploration 1


    • Microsoft Certified Professional (70-270)
    • Microsoft Certified Professional (70-290)


    • Security+ (SY0-201)

The next certification I'm going for is the Cisco Certified Network Administrator (CCNA) accreditation.

Could you please recommend some study materials?

Of all the certifications I've studied for, it seems that the CCNA has the greatest number of Study Materials (books, videos, tapes/audio, labs & practice exams/quizzes), which is why I am writing here to find out which is the best.

Please tell me which one you think is the best, and why.

Thanks in advance,

Chip D. Panarchy

BTW: Planning to sit the test by the end of next month...

RE: What to study for the CCNA?

Here are what I collected in my arsenal :

1) Cisco CCNA official exam : Wendell Odom . Dry but has lots of info

2) Sybex CCNA : Todd Lammle . Has some typos but easy to spot the errors once you get down the concept .  Easy to read

3) CBT  Nugget CCNA : Jeremy Cioara . He has the knack of explaining tough concepts for ' simpleton' like me .  

4) Basic hardware : 3 2950 switches, one 2960 with POE, couple 2610 routers with DTE/DCE cables, roll cable , couple  DSU/CSU T1 cards, one 1811 for SDM, couple old hubs for playing with port monitor / port speed / duplex mismatch practices . Crimper & cable tool .

Doing practices on the real hardware always give me a better understanding on what all the lessons are about.

At the moment, my Xmas wish list is the 2811/DSP/FXO with AIM CUE and couple 7960G phones to play with CME.  

RE: What to study for the CCNA?

I read:
ICND2 both Cisco Press books by Wendell Odom

Exam Prep book... it's ok but the Wendell Odom books are the bible

I practiced on:
2 2950's

GNS3 simulator

and some practice testing:
Measureup (don't bother unless you want to practice to fail)
How2Pass (some people will insist this is a dump, but I disagree)

There is a lot of study materials because this is a pretty tough certification. Do you have much experience with Cisco gear?

RE: What to study for the CCNA?

Madwok has the same tools i used except # 1, after about 1-1/2 months of 3-5 hours of studying a day i passed with a 977.


Read the whole todd lammle book, it is really in depth and may seem to in depth but you will be prepared. Also search for chris bryant ccie#12933

On the exam you will basically need to Know Rip. Frame relay, and nat, lots of nat. Be able to look at debugs and figure out why everything is all F***ked. Lots of lan theory and troubleshooting.  (all of this is found on cisco's exam objective page)

If you don't have equipment, then you better have a great memory. its hard to for this stuff to sink in without actually repeating it.

I dont know if you have seen how the cisco exams are, but you will have simulations were you will have to actually configure objectives on simulated routers.

I practiced on 8 routers 4 2610 1 3640 3 2514 plus a 2509 access server and 2 2950 switches.
Thats also my ccnp lab, and i have 2 3560's on the way.

Thats overkill, if you are interested in equip tho. I recommend one 2524 for frame relay, two 2610 each with 1 WIC-1T serial interface, and two 2950 or 2900xl switches. Prob 300-350$ total. But the experience you get is invaluable.

Let me give you another tip, If you actually want to know what your doing and feel like you earned your ccna, stay away from the pass4sure certmaster howtopass crap, it is all CRAP, some how they got around the cisco nda and actually have real questions on there practice tests, sounds cool right! its not its lame, its cheating. I came across a pass4sure exam for the ccna, i looked through it and dropped it, i was to busy reading. On the exam some of the questions looked familiar, After i left that day i went home and fired of the pass4sure exam engine looked at it again closely. I had the same questions with the same specifics. I felt sick. I thought i took a hard exam and that only people who cared about learning this stuff actually passed it. I was wrong, after further investigation It seems alot of people cheat, alot! Save your self the embarrassment when you go for an interview and the question they ask you isn't in one of those "guaranteed PASSS guides".

You look like you already got the right state of mind, but this post is also for others who come across it.


RE: What to study for the CCNA?

I've got a couple of Cisco 800 Series routers around.

I'll have to check, but I think they're 837.

Will they be enough for my CCNA lab?

Also, I've gotten a few books ordered through work (Sybex CCNA - Todd Lammle & ExamCram 3rd Edition), as well as some of the video tutorials. :D

Will that be enough for me to pass?

Work suggested I do my CCENT first... not sure though.



RE: What to study for the CCNA?



"I've got a couple of Cisco 800 Series routers around.I'll have to check, but I think they're 837.Will they be enough for my CCNA lab?"

Simple answer - NO!! Do yourself a favor and read Wendell Odom's 9 part blog at Networkworld on setting up a home CCNA lab, some very important and helpfull information -



"Work suggested I do my CCENT first... not sure though."
Do CCENT instead of what? CCNA? CCENT is basicly the first half of CCNA, some find it easier to study it in parts and it does give you an additional cert. But if you do the 2 part - you need to check out the Cisco site for what you need to know for each exam or get a book designed for the split.

You really should add a Cisco Press CCNA book to your study material, I find those that use Cisco Press and Sybex get a great understanding of the CCNA material from 2 differt aspects!!

Hope this helps - have been training CCNAs in a Cisco Network Academy since 1999!!


E.A. Broda
CCNA, CCDA, CCAI, Network +

RE: What to study for the CCNA?

New PostPanarchy

get the books,
however, regarding the labs, I would have to disagree with everyone here.
if its just your ccna your going for, then just google dynampis and dynagen and use them. it allows you to load up to xx (depends on how much ram you have) cisco routers, it allows you to create and configure a frame-relay switch, so you can practice with DLCI setups and broadcast routing (was that na, or bsci i dont remember).

*both these programs are free, so technically im not breaking any rules ;)

RE: What to study for the CCNA?

I also like to add that the above mentioned programs allow you to interface the router fastethernet with your ethernet card... so if you just pick up like 2 extra cards, then u can connect real switches / routers to your ethernet card on your PC , letting the real router interact properly with the fake router.

right now at home, i have 2 * 2950 , 1 *3550, 1*3560 , 1*857w and i can fake upto 16 * 7200.

so far its pulled me halfway through CCNP with out any 'support' issues

RE: What to study for the CCNA?



"however, regarding the labs, I would have to disagree with everyone here. If its just your ccna your going for, then just google dynampis and dynagen and use them."

That advice just applies if ALL you want to do is pass the exam - for that matter you could just use a sim or buy a brain dump and be a "paper" CCNA smile

YES, Dynampis and Dynagen are GREAT tools that can and should be used with your books and CBTs etc. but don't fool yourself - hands on networking with Cisco routers and switches and the cables, WICs, Network Modules, FLASH, DRAM, rack mounts etc is what helps you to understand a lot of what most CCNAs are hired for.

Now, if you HAVE experience with "real" equipment that is great but MOST of the students that have come through the Cisco Network Academy I have taught at since 1999 have NEVER touched, cabled, "racked" much less even seen anything more than a Linksys or Netgear router or switch.

REAL WORLD - I have told this here before, had a network admin at the local international airport looking for 2 CCNAs to hire, he had 7 apply, before the interview he took them 1 by 1 to a training room with a table with a laptop, a box of cables, and several Cisco routers, switches and hubs scattered around the table. He told them to use the equipment there and "break" the password on the Cisco router - NOTHING was plugged in or cabled!!

All 7 were CCNAs - 4 had no idea what to do sad, 1 had parts of it right but was using the wrong cable and a switch rather than a router sad and 2 of them had no trouble, those 2 went on for the interview and were hired smile

Just remember - you are going to work with REAL Cisco routers and switches not on a sim or emulator !!! It really does help if you have touched them, seen what they look like inside, rack mount them, change WICs, underdstand the different cables used ..........

Like I said - it ALL depends on the experince YOU have and WHAT YOU want to do with your CCNA !!!!

E.A. Broda
CCNA, CCDA, CCAI, Network +

RE: What to study for the CCNA?

I'd add one thing too about dynagen/dynamips/gns3.  Not sure about everyone else's experiences with it, but I've found it crashes often, and can take more work just to get setup and running than just having the real equipment.

For starting out, I'd rather get frustrated with the equipment not doing what it's supposed to based on configuration (not that the hardware can't fail too) than wasting my time trying to get the application to work first then get the routers working within dynagen.

There is no substitution for the real thing either.  The layer 1 experience of having the equipment is priceless too just like CiscoGuy said.

I've used both dynagen and real equipment for my studies.  I'll do everything I can with the real equipment before I turn to dynagen to substitute anything.

RE: What to study for the CCNA?

I couldn't disagree more with the "just use the sim" approach.

Use the sim, I did (gns3). But there is so much it won't do.... and actually cabling hardware, actually watching lights flash, actually cracking open a switch or router are all things you will do as a CCNA so I think it's imperative to get some gear if you intend to stay in networking.

Use a sim
Use real gear
Use the books
Use flash cards
Use tests

Use every option to learn more, see where you are weak and go back and do it all again.


RE: What to study for the CCNA?


maybe i phrased it wrong.
if you have money : buy the stuff, i did , eventually and I must say its very very very helpful...

if you are on limited budget:
start off with sims and go from there.

New Postlerdalt
yes windows version dynamips and dynagen crash..however in linux, ihaven't had issues, i've ran it for days on and it hasn't crashed...

is gns3 freeware.. never mind, I'll google.

thanks for the software tip .

RE: What to study for the CCNA?

Can you give me a list of features which I need for the CCNA which the 837 routers can't offer me?

Also, I was able to convince work to purchase 'CCNA Study Guide, Deluxe 5th Edition' from Sybex (Todd Lammle).

I could never really get into using Practice Tests, however I'll train with everything else you suggested.


The Linux version is better than the Windows version?

(I've got 5 Operating Systems running on 1 Hard-Drive, including 2 Linuxes)

Anything I can't do with the Cisco 837 series of routers, I'll do with Dynamips, Dynagen & GNS3.

(Though probably only using the GNS3 front-end!!!)

Thanks for your continual advice,


RE: What to study for the CCNA?

The 837 is very good for SDM. Keep it for that, at least. Also, NAT.


tim@tim-laptop ~ $ sudo apt-get install windows
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
E: Couldn't find package windows...Thank Goodness!

RE: What to study for the CCNA?


Thanks for the tip, didn't even know what SDM was until I looked up the acronym from your post!

Looks quite useful, just shows what I have still to learn, and my CCNA Training will help in that!



RE: What to study for the CCNA?


The Cisco 837 is fine for one of the routers in your mix but routers communicate  over the Ethernet ports to the LANs they support and over serial ports for the WANs they support, 837 has 4 Ethernet ports - NO WAN/SERIAL ports IE - WIC slots.

The WAN links are where you will do PPP, Frame Relay and other WAN protocals. You also learn the serial cables and DCE vs DTE, clock rate etc etc .........

This is typical setup for CCNA:
You have 3 routers connected to each other by Serial links (routers connect WANs to WANs) this way you can break a link and see what happens or set one router as the Frame Relay switch for Frame Relay practice etc. You can see how routing proticals are sent and affected by down link etc etc etc ....


E = Ethernet/LAN
S = Serial/WAN

                  |             |        |_ _E_ _837
                  S             S
                  |             |

Here are a couple of 2610s (very cheep on Ebay) and a 2610/20/50XM for Fast Ethernet, all of these will handle WICs for your serial connection.

If you have NOT read Wendell Odom's (CCIE and Cisco Press author) blog about setting up a home CCNA lab - READ IT !!!!!! http://www.networkworld.com/community/node/24916

Hope this helps !!!!

E.A. Broda
CCNA, CCDA, CCAI, Network +

RE: What to study for the CCNA?

Thanks CiscoGuy, nicely explained.

Fortunately I found out today that we may be able to setup a Cisco Lab at work!

(Enterprise level Cisco Routers & Switches)


On that note, finished the first chapter of Todd Lammle's Sybex book! Quite a handful, on my lunch break!

Thanks for your continual support,


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