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Cisco CCNA Exam Tutorial: How To Spend Your Study Time

To pass the CCNA exam, you've got to create a study plan. Part of that plan is scheduling your study time, and making that study time count. Youíve scheduled your exam youíve created a document to track your study time youíve planned exactly when youíre going to study. Now the plan must be carried out, without exception. What exceptions do I mean? Cell phones. Televisions.

IPods. Significant others. The list can go on and on. Itís one thing to have a plan, and an important thing now youíve got to make sure you carry it out to its fullest potential. Thatís easy to say until youíre studying and a friend calls, or you remember that TV show you wanted to watch is on tonight, or you start surfing the Web for Cisco information and end up playing a game.

You MUST make these small sacrifices in order to achieve your main goal, the CCNA. Any worthwhile accomplishment requires some small sacrifice. TV will be there when youíre done studying. Your significant other will be there when youíre done studying. And believe it or not, people once existed without cell phones! Turn the phone off. Turn your instant messenger service off. Turn your text pager off. Despite what we think, the world can do without communicating with us for 90 minutes. Remember, itís better to have 90 minutes of great study than 180 minutes of constantly interrupted study. Studies show that while a single phone call causes an 11-minute interruption on average, it takes well over 20 minutes to get back to what you were doing with the proper mental focus.

This is true at the office and at your home! How To Spend Your Study Time CCNA candidates generally spend their time split between book study, practice exams, and lab time on real Cisco equipment. The best study is done by a combination of these, not by overly relying on one. Letís take a look at each method. Book study Ė Iíve never understood why some people (usually the trolls we were talking about earlier) talk about book study like itís a bad thing. "You canít learn about technology from books." What a load of manure. You have to learn the theory before you can understand how a router or switch operates. The best way to learn the theory is to read a good book. At the CCNA level, you doubtless know that you have dozens of choices when it comes to books. Some of the better-known books really do gloss over some important topics, such as binary math and subnetting.

Make sure to pick a book or books that go beyond just explaining the theory and that give you a lot of explanation of router configs and real-world examples as well. Practice Exams: Practice exams are good in moderation, but donít use them as your main focus of study. Occasionally, Iím asked for study tips by candidates who have taken the exam a few times and not passed yet. I ask them what theyíre doing to prepare, and they give a list of companies they bought practice exams from. (You see a lot of this on Internet forums as well.) Donít fall into this trap. Practice exams are fine if used as a readiness check, but some candidates just take them over and over again, which renders them basically useless. On top of that, some of them cost hundreds of dollars. Thatís money youíd be much better off spending on Cisco equipment to practice on. Again, Iím not against practice exams as a supplement to your studies.

Just donít make them the main focus of your study. Taking practice exams over and over and hoping the exam will be just like the practice exam is a recipe for disaster. As I tell my students, when youíre in front of a rack of routers and switches during a job interview (or at 2AM when youíve been called in to fix a problem), the correct answer is not "D". Youíve got to know what to do. And how do you learn these skills? Funny you should ask. Lab Time On Real Cisco Equipment. Again, speaking from experience: This is the most important part of getting your CCNA, succeeding on the job, and going on to get your CCNP. Getting hands-on experience is critical to developing your networking skills, especially your troubleshooting skills.


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