Yesterday, I sat for my CCENT and passed my exam! Not going to lie, this was a tough exam, but thanks to my preparation, my consistency and positivism, I was able to succeed. In this entry, I want to share some of my study process and some exam day tips.
Getting Exam Day Ready
I’ve been studying off and on for this exam for about a year, but the consistency didn’t kick in until a month after I getting my Linux Essentials certification, so I studied hard for the CCENT for around 2 months.
- My hours per day would range from 4-6 hours a day. Since I work second shift, I’d get up around 9a, study from 9:30-12:30, then go to work and study there, pending there be downtime.
- The first month, I read through Wendell Odom’s CCENT/CCNA 100-105 Official Cert Guide. This book is thorough but sometimes subjects would go over my head, so I would use these resources to supplement my learning:
- To add to the first month, if I wasn’t reading, I was watching video’s:
- Jeremy Cioara’s CBT Nuggets course. If you can swing the $84 a month or for just a month, it’s worth it for a complete beginner.
- Chris Bryant’s 2018 200-125 Video Boot Camp. For $10 (at the time of the sale), Not only do you get ICND1 content, but you get ICND2 and his security content! Click here to learn more about this course.
My process of getting ready for this exam does mirror a lot of the practices I used in my previous blog post, however, I do want to add I added another resource for studying: “31 Days Before Your CCNA R&S Exam” by Allan Johnson. I picked this up right after finishing my exam because I needed something to add to my not-so-structured study plan. I didn’t really use the book, however, the book comes with a discount code to buy the online version of the book, which comes with practice exams, Packet Tracer files, and basic simulations. It’s worth the purchase!
I did use the Boson CCENT Practice exams. These practice exams were difficult yet oh so worth having in my arsenal! For $99, you get multiple practice exam banks with thorough explanations of why the answer is what it is and why the answers aren’t what they are. There is a demo version of the exam you can try before you buy. The exams mimic what the Cisco exams are like!
And of course, as Du’An Lightfoot says, #labeveryday. No, seriously, LAB. EVERY. DAY! There were days I couldn’t study, but I could load Packet Tracer and stand up a quick network for 10-15 minutes. While reading the many books I’ve mentioned, I would lab out the network topologies for that section, and even stand my own up.
Exam Day Readiness
I’m going to talk a little bit about the exam experience without violating Cisco’s NDA, but I want to help those that about to sit for the exam for the first time so you all will get an idea of what to expect with check-in.
I took a nap.
I woke up at 8:45, had a cup of coffee, reviewed my notes, and realized my nerves were getting to me, and took a nap. After said nap, I watched a video on routing, got ready and left for the testing center a whole hour early.
I got to the testing center an hour before my exam for many reasons:
- I wanted to calm my nerves and get used to being in the “environment”.
- Sometimes accidents/construction happens on the Watterson and wanted to avoid any of that.
- I have a lead foot and didn’t want to be a cause of any accidents on the Watterson or get pulled over by LMPD (“Sorry I was speeding, Officer! I gotta go get certified!”).
I have a bit of a ritual for exam day that includes a motivation playlist that includes songs of positivity. For this particular exam, I listened to many of the songs on my playlist several times, especially a song by Sounds of Blackness called “Optimistic”. I’m an 80’s baby with a love of music from the early 90s. This song helped me to leave all negativity at the door of the exam center and encouraged me to go and do my best.
- Get to the exam center early. You don’t have to get there an hour early like I did, but 15 minutes before your exam should be enough. Luckily at my testing center, I never had to wait to be checked in.
- Make sure you have 2 forms of identification on hand. This can be a social security card and a driver’s license, or a passport and a combination of one of the previous two. Click here to view Pearson’s ID Policy.
- Don’t bring a lot of stuff into the testing center, because you won’t be able to bring it into the testing room anyway. Once they verify who you are and the test you’re sitting for, the proctor may hand you a lock and key to stow away your belongings. The test center I go to has a small locker for me to put my keys, wallet, and cell phone in. Any note cards, notebooks, exam objectives, I leave in my vehicle
- When given the whiteboard and marker, test the marker during check-in. When taking these exams (be it Cisco, CompTIA, Microsoft), every minute of your exam counts and the last thing you want to deal with is a dry marker while working on some subnetting. Test the marker during your registration process.
- Bring ear plugs. I swear, I’m like Dory from Finding Nemo: easily distracted by noise or sudden movements and wreck my own concentration. I’ve learned over the years to either ask for ear plugs (like these), and sometimes the testing centers will provide you some. Unfortunately you can’t bring in Beats or Bose headphones, but the soft foam ear plugs work amazingly.
- Any mnemonics, subnetting tables, or protocols you want to remember can be written down once you sit down for the exam. Actually, I would strongly encourage any candidate to use that white board once going over the instructions. I know I filled my board up with anything I deemed important.
During the exam, my emotions were on a roller-coaster: one minute I’d be super confident, and at one point, I even said to myself “Welp, you failed the exam but you studied your butt off and gave it an honest go. Keep giving all you got because you still have 15 questions left.” I’m glad I didn’t give up, because once I clicked next after my last question, I got a “Congratulations! You passed” screen. I wanted to scream and start doing the Carlton. but there was another person in the testing room with me and I didn’t want to distract him. So I went to high-five the proctor instead!
I am grateful for everything I’ve learned within the ICND1 domain and can’t wait to dive into ICND2. I’m actually forcing myself to take a couple days off from studying. My plan is to start my ICND2 studies on Monday and possibly sit for the exam in November, as there are specific objectives I need to work on. For those working on their CCENT/CCNA, I wish you all well and good luck with your studies and successes.
Until next time, Holla!