Tips for Passing Cisco CCNA Certification Exams

So you bit the bullet and want to get the coveted CCNA certification. Congrats on the decision! CCNA certified professionals are in demand worldwide and can work in a variety of high-paying career fields! So what’s next? We compiled a list of tips for passing Cisco CCNA certification exams because we know how hard they are! Just discerning the difference between the three exams can be a challenging question in and of itself. Read on to learn more about the CCNA testing process and how you can get certified!

CCNA Routing and Switching consists of three possible tests.

CCNA Routing Switching Cisco Networking Devices

For a CCNA professional there is one large exam consisting of material from two smaller exams, the 200-125 Exam also known as CCNAX or Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices: Accelerated. Then there is the 100-105 Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 1, and 200-105 the Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 2. It can be a bit confusing. Basically you need to take one large test or two smaller tests to get certified. The tests contain roughly similar information.

The 200-125 is a composite test that contains the bulk of 100-105 and 200-105. It saves $5 from taking the ICND1 and ICND2 respectively. Really they are targeted towards two different audiences.

Accelerated is best for people who have intense networking experience, are confident in the knowledge they have, and wouldn’t mind an all day intensive testing session.

ICND1 and ICND2 are targeted toward individuals who want to split the test up into smaller more manageable chunks. Both will allow you to get your CCNA. It’s a matter of preference and what works best for you! Got it? Great.

Pick your test path and listen up, tips are coming.

woman working on network in lab server configuration

You need a lab. It’s near impossible otherwise.

CCNA certification is about practical hands on experience and important foundational head knowledge. Just grabbing a book or thinking you can walk in and pass is a sure way to lose a couple hundred dollars. It is not easy. You need to be able to practice networking fundamentals. The amount of technology covered by the exam is pretty vast but a router/switch, ISP, PC, RJ-45 cords, and a hub can easily be enough for starting to practice. You can work through WPS, WAN, DNS. You can build different network configurations. You can troubleshoot and learn everything required for basic networking. One useful exercise it to just build a network topography, set it up, tear it down, and rebuild it. Do this a couple times and you will start to understand the foundations of networking. Building a lab may be the most important part of passing a CCNA exam.

homemade lab voip testing phones network(A homemade lab set-up for testing VOIP phones)

Study until it is second nature or pay for the test a second time

If you can’t repeat back official networking terms with great accuracy, chances are you will struggle and likely fail your exam. Especially if you take the accelerated test. The CCNA tests are comprehensive and full of useful tidbits that many take for granted. Knowing terms is important but it is a lot of work. You need to memorize port numbers, internet speed designations, understand bitrate, and more. Study each day and commit every possible term to memory. You should know the name of every item you will encounter in a network. If it’s not on the test you will still encounter it at work someday! These certifications are valuable because they really do say something about your quality as an IT Specialist. This also helps you drop bad habits like calling a router a switch or mixing up odd hardware designations.

Use modern online tools such as Udemy and Practice Tests

The growth of certification training programs has been an incredible boon to those looking to get certified. Several courses on training sites like Coursera and Udemy cost less than $20 and offer incredible training that is relevant to CCNA. One of the advantages to using online tools is the fact that update them regularly as well. Try taking practice tests as well. They offer accurate real-life examples of what can be found on the test as well as help you condition yourself to know the answers by heart. Many courses and online test even offer sample simulation questions that are a bit more complex and test in-depth knowledge. We have 100-105 and 200-105 practice tests at They are excellent for helping you get the basics of the difference between ICDN1 and ICDN2 as well as gain some practical knowledge. It’s a good baseline as well for seeing if you want to go ahead and risk taking the 200-125.

Go Old School Cool: Flashcards and Practice Drills

Some of those old studying methods from High School work great for CCNA. Take the questions you struggle with during studying and write the answer down on a flashcard. A few weeks of this and you might have a healthy stack of advanced questions that you need to know for testing. Then review those flash cards two times per day. Once in the morning and once in the evening. It might be boring and feel like overkill but eventually the answers will become second nature to you. If the answer involves a physical process (Such as, how do you change the DNS settings on a router) then take a few moments every two days and practice those processes on a computer until you can do them comfortably with no outside help. Not only does this drill concepts into your head, it prepare you for an actual career where management might ask a hard tech question and you need the answer immediately. down the answer on a flashcard.

Don’t rush to take the test, especially the composite test

Take more than a month to study for CCNA level exams. The tests themselves include networking problems that may seem or feel second nature but bad tech habits or just a lack of terms can easily cost you major points on an exam. It’s even more important to spread out the exams (By taking ICND1 and ICND2) if you are nervous. That way you can have some time between the exams to brush up on the information and gauge whether or not you really know whats involved. It’s ok to choose the less intensive route. It will save you a lot of money as well if you don’t fail the 200-125. These tests are designed to be tough and unanswerable if you haven’t actually studied.

Thanks for reading our guide!

We hope these simple tips for passing the CCNA certification exams have helped you a little bit. Networking is one of the best career paths in IT today and with certification you can have a winning career in routing and switching. If this guide has helped you, please take a moment like, comment, or share it with someone who might need it. And as always, check back regularly for more blogs on the incredible options you have for getting certified!