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CCNA: How Cisco has changed the test and what to study

CCNA exam questions and preparation have changed over the years. Our Cisco certification expert, David Minutella, explains what is covered on the test today and whether or not more training is necessary.

I trained on CCNA four years ago and didn't do the exam. If I were to take the exam now, would I need to go back to class? Have there been any major changes made to it? What will it entail?
Luckily, there are not too many variations (yet) in this current revision of the exam from what you prepared for before. You will definitely need to be proficient in switching technologies such as VLANs, trunking, Spanning-Tree protocol as well as modern routing protocols such as RIP v2, EIGRP and OSPF (IGRP has been retired). You will still need to understand WAN technologies such as Frame Relay and point-to-point, but ISDN is not a major component anymore. Access-lists, NAT, IP subnetting and design, IOS configurations, etc. are all still part of the current exam objectives which you may need to brush up on if you are rusty. You will need to learn some of the new concepts in the recent version of the exam such as security threats and mitigation, wireless, IPv6, video and voice design, and DHCP to name a few.

I would argue that you definitely need to do some extensive "brushing up" whether that is taking a class or self study (depending on your budget and time allotted to achieve the exam). If you happen to be in the field and have been constantly working within these realms of test objectives, then you can possibly get away with preparing with an updated version of a CCNA book. However, if you have not had much practice or feel you may learn best in an interactive environment such as a class, I highly recommend perusing that option.

This was last published in March 2009

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