The CCNA 200-301 is the new entry-level Cisco Certification and it’s really the backbone of the entire Cisco Certification roadmap. This certification is really a must-have for any Network Administrator, but it’s also really valuable for IT Professional.
I got CCNA certified almost 15 years ago. And even though I am not a networking guy, I am still benefiting from what I have learned from the “old” CCNA R&S. Having a good understanding of networking, routing protocols, vLANs, WAN technologies, etc will really help you in any IT career path.
This article will give you all the information you need to know to start learning for your CCNA. Which books you should read, online resources, exam tips and a total exam cost overview.
CCNA 200-301 – What you need to know
The new CCNA 200-301 exam is replacing all the former CCNA exams. So there are no longer multiple different CCNA exams and certifications. As of Feb. 24, 2020, there is now only a single exam that covers everything.
So the new exam is completely overhauled compared to the older CCNA exams. The new exam will cover a wider range of topics and is more in line with today’s work. It will cover topics like DHCP snooping, Wireless networks, Security, but also automation topics like Puppet, Chef, and Ansible.
CCNA 200-301 Exam Length
The number of questions can vary, but it will be around 100 questions. To complete the exam you will have 120 minutes which is more than enough for the most contenders.
Below you will find how the topics are divided into the exam. Keep in mind that other related topics also may appear in the exam.
|Automation and Programmability||10%|
You can find a complete list of all the topics here at Cisco.com.
Learning for your CCNA Exam
So a common question is, what is a good strategy for learning for your CCNA? The answer depends of course on how much experience you already have with Cisco and networking in general. But in general, it is a good strategy to learn 2 hours per day at least. This way you should be able to complete the course within 90 days.
Start with a video course. Even if you don’t really like learning from videos, the courses will give you a lot of tips and insights for the exam. Some of the best courses cost only around $15 on Udemy, so that is a really good “investment” to start with.
One of the most popular trainers for CCNA is Neil Anderson, which created a really good video course on Udemy. Besides CBT Nuggets is this one of the most recommend training courses on Reddit for the new CCNA.
There are only two books you really need, Wendell Odom’s OCG vol 1 and 2. Now to save you some money, I recommend buying the Odom’s CCNA 200-301 Official Cert Guide Library. You can get it at the Cisco Shop or on Amazon. This will contain both volumes 1 and 2 of the CCNA 200-301 OCG.
At the Cisco shop you can also buy a bundle with the eBook, which can come in really handy if you like to learn while your are in the train for example.
Besides the books and video courses, you will need to download and install the Cisco Packet Tracer. You can download it free on the Cisco website. The Packet Tracert program is more than enough to get your CCNA.
If you want to get better or more familiar with the Cisco IOS and don’t want to invest in a home lab with physical equipment. Then you should really take a look at the CCNA 200-301 Network Simulator. It’s an interactive simulation software the really helps you to practice your networking skills.
Some people recommend getting Cisco Virtual Internet Routing Lab (VIRL) as well, but that is overkill (and expensive at $200) for your CCNA. Only if you are planning to go for a CCNP exam after your CCNA, then it might be worth to buy VIRL now.
If you like learning with flashcards, then a great tip is to install the Anki app and download the following flashcards to help you with learning. The Anki app is free on Andriod and unfortunately $20 on iOS.
Preparing for the Exam
You will get 600 practice exams with the book from Odom, so that is a really good place to start. But if you want more practice exam then you really should get the Boson ExSim-Max for Cisco 200-301. What is really great about the Boson ExSim is that they have a good explanation when your answer question wrong.
This can really help with learning and filling your knowledge gaps.
CCNA Exam Cost
So the CCNA 200-301 exam self cost $300. But you will need learning materials as well. So the total cost for the exam is:
|Neil Anderson Udemy Course||$15|
|Books: Odom OCG Library||$40|
|Boson ExSim Exams||$99|
So I gather a couple of tips for the exam self:
- Read the questions twice! Keep in mind there is no back button, so make sure you fully understand the question.
- You have some time before you start the exam, write down a subnetting table or other information before you actually start the exam.
- Keep mind your only have 1 minute per question roughly (120 minutes for more then 100 questions). So if you don’t know the answer, pick the best and move on.
Good luck with learning for your CCNA and the exam. If you have any suggestions, tips or other resources that should be mentioned here, just drop a comment below.