Let’s keep it real. I’ve been studying for this exam off and on since early last year. I didn’t follow through, be it because I got busy learning something else for my job, because I moved to a different state, I moved back to my home state, because I didn’t understand subnetting and immediately gave up, because I thought I was in over my head and therefore got intimidated. Whatever the reason may be, I put off my goal and kept falling behind… Until a month ago.
Today, I want to give a high-level overview of what I’ve been using to study, my plan of attack, and some general thoughts during this process before I take my exam.
- Official Cert Guide CCENT/CCNA ICND1 100-105 by Wendell Odom (Excellent cert guide and very detailed).
- CCNA Routing and Switching Complete Study Guide: Exam 100-105, Exam 200-105, Exam 200-125 2nd Edition, By Todd Lammle (read this a few months ago, but use it as a reference, as it is a bit easier to comprehend with certain subject matters)
- 100-105 ICND1 Exam Objectives <– This. Download it. Print it. Use it as a checklist when you ask yourself “Do I really understand this topic?”
- Jeremy Cioara’s Cisco CCENT/CCNA ICND1 100-105 video course <– Dude is animated, entertaining, and has a love for networking. I dig it.
- Chris Bryant’s 2018 200-125 Video Boot Camp Series on Udemy (Got it for $10 and is well worth it!)
- Packet Tracer (Click the link, and the instructions to download are on the page)
- Boson NetSim 11 for CCENT (These practice tests are no joke. Super helpful and highly-recommended
- Pearson IT CCENT ICND1 100-105 Network Simulator <
- Todd Lammle’s IP Subnet Practice Page
- Reddit’s r/CCNA Subreddit! <– This is a great and supportive community. Some Redditors that pass their exams will post their experiences on how they studied and what they thought of the exam.
- College-Ruled Notebook and Microsoft OneNote (OneNote is dope!)
- Pen (pencil, crayon, pastel, whatever)
- Gel highlighters <– If you don’t know, now you know. These highlighters are BOMB!
- Book tabs (to feel fancy)
- Google (in case there were terms I didn’t understand)
- YouTube (for topics I needed a bit more help with)
- Patience and staying consistient (a note to myself: this isn’t a race and I’ll get there if I keep working at this until I’m ready)
Plan of Attack
My plan of attack in the beginning was simple: Read the chapters in the Official Cert Guide, take notes, and finish the book. I had no real order with this. I’d either read the chapter, highlight, then go back and take notes in my notebook (eventually taking all notes in OneNote), or I’d take notes as I went. Both ways worked for me. If I didn’t understand something after re-reading, I would either watch one of the CBT Nugget videos or Chris Bryant’s videos on the subject matter.
Note Taking: When I typically study for a certification exam, I write my notes down. I may look at them once or twice, but no more than that. This is because when I was writing the notes, it wasn’t for me to review later, it was to help me remember key points while jotting down what I thought was important. With the CCENT, I found myself basically rewriting the book and needing more diagrams than ever, so I stopped writing notes. What I do now is use Microsoft OneNote for taking notes, copy/paste network diagrams and configs I built in Packet Tracer. I use my notebook mainly for subnetting work.
Subnetting: I rode the struggle bus on this subject so hard. I would say this alone caused me to veer off of my CCNA and goals of becoming a Network Engineer, but it finally got through to me! Two Methods that helped me: Chapter 4 of Todd Lammle’s CCNA Complete Study Guide and Jeremy Cioara’s subnetting videos in the ICND1 course. There are so many ways to learn to subnet and honestly, I say pick a method or two, understand it, learn it, and you’ll be fine.
Labbing: I lab while I’m in the middle of reading a chapter, when I’m watching a video series, and even at work while there’s downtime. I recreate the network diagrams, the configurations that I read in books and videos. With videos, sometimes I follow along or if I’m doing review of a video I’ve watched before, I’ll pause the video and attempt to recreate what I believe will be the next steps of a configuration. By practicing and labbing daily, I’m not only remembering the steps to configure a certain thing, this offers clarity as to why I’m doing this (and it’s fun).
Thoughts During this Process and What I’ve Noticed
This time has been different versus my past study habits: This past Sunday, I finally finished reading the OCG (Official Cert Guide), I practice subnetting at least 30 minutes a day using Todd Lammle’s IP Subnet Practice Page, or SubnettingPractice.com. To add, I also use Packet Tracer to lab daily around the subjects that I’ve learned for memory and to understand why things are configured the way they are.
I spend about 3-4 hours a day Monday-Friday, 5-6 hours Saturdays and Sundays studying and learning the material. I feel more confident that I will pass this exam. I have 30 days until I sit for the ICND1 exam, and I’m excited for it. My plan for the next 30 days is to review, lab, subnet, lab, review, repeat, repeat, repeat. No matter the outcome of the exam, I am so proud of myself for being committed and breaking past my own fears of failure.
For those of you that have achieved your Cisco certifications, congrats to you and keep up the good work. For those of us working towards those certifications, we got this and I wish you all the best of luck in your jouney.