The CCNA Exam is tough, many people fail the first time they take it, but if you follow these 10 steps you will be very prepared to take your CCNA Exam and have a much higher chance of getting certified.
Just so you know a little about my background, I have taken many Cisco exams since 2005. I currently am a CCNA and I'm in the process of studying for my CCNA SWITCH exam right now.
10. Don't Just ReadIt is so tempting to just want to get to the next chapter as quickly as possible, but make sure to take the time to take notes and really study what you are reading. It's not a race. If you speed through your study material you will just end up wasting your time because you will have to go back and relearn all the stuff you sped through. Take the time up front to really understand. Re-read a section of you need to. Make flash cards. Take notes. Quiz yourself after each page. Take your time.
9. Study Everyday
As soon as you take a day or two off it will become extremely hard to start back up again. When you take too much time off from studying for your CCNA Exam you lose serious momentum that you have built up. Commit yourself to studying everyday. Some days you may study longer than others, but just make sure it is every single day. You can take a break when you are certified!
8. Don't Worry About NOT Having Cisco EquipmentIt can be hard to pay for Cisco routers and switches to practice with, especially after paying for study materials and paying for the exam. But for the CCNA exam you honestly don't have to have equipment to practice with in order to pass the exam. Most of the time when I practice configuring interfaces and routing protocols using notepad to type in the commands just as if I was doing it on the actual router. If you get comfortable configuring a cisco router using notepad from memory you can easily do it in real life and on the exam. Don't let not having equipment get in the way. Nothing should stand in your way of getting Cisco Certified.
7. Drive to The Testing Center Before The Day of Your ExamTrust me, you will be stressed out enough the day of your test. Getting lost on the way to your exam will not help one bit. Even if you know the street your testing center is on, make sure you know how to get to the building and to where the testing room actually is. Many office complexes can be confusing and it may be hard to find the actual location.
So, before the test, whether it be 1 day or 1 week before, drive to the testing center, park your car, walk into the actual testing center, talk to the receptionist and make sure that it is the right place. Maybe even ask them what all you need to bring or not bring the day of your exam.
6. Schedule The Exam In The MorningIt's best to just get it over with. Last minute cramming usually isn't the most effective. Plus you have already studied diligently every single day right? I get really nervous the day of the test, and so putting it off until late afternoon is not the best option for me. I can't even concentrate studying the day of the test. So, it ends up just being a waste of time waiting around all day to take my test. Schedule it in the morning at around 9 or 10am that way you can still get enough sleep, but you aren't rushed either to get to the testing center.
5. Don't Cram The Last DayOften times we get behind on studying. Life happens. First rule is just don't get behind, but if you feel like you are and won't be prepared in time, you should shedule a time to study all day and even night if you have to. Just make sure to do it only about a week before you exam date, not any closer. This can be far more effective than simply changing your exam date. If you get into the habit of moving your exam date back you may never take it. Stick to your exam date and don't ever change it. Do whatever it takes.
4. Test YourselfYou may think you are doing great by reading and taking notes, but make sure you test yourself, or have someone else test you. I'm not saying taking practice tests. Those can help, but simply just ask yourself questions about your notes, write down everything you know about a topic, and practice configuring the routers and switches without looking at any notes. How well did you do. This should give you a good examination about where you really are in your preparation.
3. Practice SubnettingSubnetting is one of the most important topics for a CCNA to master. Many questions on the exam will either be directly or indirectly related to subnetting. Make sure you take the extra time to practice subnetting. It is very critical.
2. Focus On Configuring, Not Just StudyingYou need to become extremely familiar with the Cisco IOS. If you know how to configure the routers and switches with out looking at any notes and understand what everything means. You will do a whole lot better on the test then just studying for it, and not practicing as much. Don't make the mistake of not taking the time to practice configuring until the very end. Start doing it in the beginning of your studying. You will be a lot better off.
1. Pick a DateA goal without a deadline is mearly a wish. Many people say that they are going to get their CCNA, they start studying, but because they never set a date, they never ever seem to take the exam. Their excitement wears off and they eventually move on to something else. Don't be that person. If you want your CCNA badly enough, set the date and stick to it.
How far into the future should I set my CCNA Exam date? If you have had previous networking experience and are already familiar with IP Addresses and subnetting I would say no more than 2 months out. If you have zero networking experience I would set my exam date to be exactly 4-6 months away. If your deadline is too far out, you will put off studying until you feel that urgency creeping up on you. At that point you will just be cramming for the exam. Also, with a long deadline you will often have to go back and review stuff that you learned in the first weeks of studying. This is redundant and a waste of time. By setting a shorter deadline you will force your self to make sacrifices and study and because you are doing it in such a shorter amount of time your memory will be much fresher when you take the CCNA Exam.
The best tip that I can give you is to pay for the exam today, if at all possible. If you don't have the money to register for your exam, set a smaller goal to get the money 2-4 weeks away so that you can pay for your exam ahead of time. Honestly, as soon as you pay for your exam, a magical thing will happen! Your studying will improve, you will have an increased focus, and a desire to memorize vocab words instead of going out with friends. Why this magical change all of sudden? Because you either spent $125 of your own money or even somebody elses money and are now feeling that positive pressure to do good on your exam.