Introduction to the Cisco Certified Network Associate Routing & Switching (CCNA) certification

The Cisco Certified Network Associate Routing & Switching exam, 640-802 CCNA, is available to candidates as a combined exam from the individual Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 1 (ICND1) v1.0 and the Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 2 (ICND2) v1.0 courses.

This article will review the CCNA certification from an overview perspective along with an outline of the exam topics as well as some training resources that are available.

Summary of the CCNA exam 640-802

The CCNA exam is designed for candidates with at least one year of networking experience and it will test a candidate’s knowledge and ability to troubleshoot a small to medium size enterprise network installation and their ability to operate and maintain it.

The subject matter for the CCNA includes but is not limited to:

  • implementing network security
  • understanding TCP/IP and OSI models
  • understanding network types
  • understanding network media
  • understanding routing and switching fundamentals
  • understanding IP v4 and v6 addressing
  • connecting to wide area networks (WAN)
  • connecting to local area networks (LAN)
  • connecting to metropolitan / campus networks
  • connecting to wireless networks
  • operating and configuring IOS devices
  • extending switched networks with VLANs
  • determining IP routes
  • managing IP traffic with access lists
  • establishing point-to-point connections
  • establishing Frame Relay connections

The CCNA exam is made up of two entry level exams 640-822 ICND1 Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 1 (ICND1) and 640-816 ICND2 Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 2 (ICND2).

Candidates can study for both of these entry level exams and take them separately or study for the combined 640-802 CCNA exam.

[NOTES FROM THE FIELD] Most of the time, training facilities and / content providers do not have singular classes for the 640-822 ICND1 Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 1 (ICND1) and 640-816 ICND2 Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 2 (ICND2) courses.

They will offer the combined 640-802 CCNA course as it encompasses the skills required from both entry level titles.

TrainSignal’s Cisco CCNA Training DVD content delivered by Chris Bryant with his 10 years of extensive experience in both the practical and theoretical sides of Cisco and Networking technologies is a good example of that combined content scenario.

The CCNA exam is 90 minutes and the total test is approximately 50 questions.

It is presently available in English, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, Russian, Korean, French, Portuguese

All of the Cisco Career Certification exams include the following test formats:

  • Multiple-choice single answer
  • Multiple-choice multiple answer
  • Drag-and-drop
  • Fill-in-the-blank
  • Testlet
  • Simlet
  • Simulations

On the Cisco website there is a short tutorial that you can run to get yourself familiar with the exam process.

When to take and pass the combined 640-802 CCNA exam you gain the Cisco Certified Network Associate Routing & Switching certification and it will be valid for a three year period. To recertify once your three years is up you can take and pass the ICND2 exam, or retake and pass the CCNA exam again in its current form at that time.

Alternately, you can take and pass any of the CCNA Concentration exam to recertify:

You also have the option to pass the current Design (CCDA) or you can take and pass any 642 – XXX professional level or Cisco Specialist exam (excluding Sales Specialist exams), or pass a current CCIE or CCDE written exam.

Common body of knowledge for the CCNA exam, 640-802

The summary information on the CCNA exam topics for 640-802 are provided on the Cisco website. The topics are provided there as general guidelines regarding content that may be found on the exam but it is important to note that other related topics may also appear on the exam.

The major topic areas and some of the subtopics are:

  • Describe how a network works
    • Understand the purpose and operation of network devices
    • Understand network specifications and required components
    • Understand how data flows in a network
    • Understand how the OSI and TCP/IP models work
    • Understand common networked applications
    • Understand the purpose and basic operation of the protocols in the OSI and TCP models
    • Understand the impact of applications on a network
    • Understand network diagrams
    • Determine the path between two hosts across a network
    • Understand and identify the components required for network and Internet communications
    • Troubleshoot common network problems at layers 1, 2, 3 and 7 using a layered model approach
    • Differentiate between LAN/WAN operation and features
  • Configure, verify and troubleshoot a switch with VLANs and interswitch communications
    • Using the appropriate media, cables, ports, and connectors, install switches to other network devices and hosts
    • Understand the technology and media access control method for Ethernet networks
    • Understand and identify network segmentation and basic traffic management concepts
    • Understand basic switching concepts and the operation of Cisco switches
    • Configure and test initial switch configuration tasks including remote access management
    • Configure and test network status and switch operation using basic command utilities
    • Troubleshoot common switched network media issues, configuration issues, auto negotiation, and switch hardware failures
    • Understand enhanced switching technologies
    • Understand how VLANs create logically separate networks and the need for routing between them
    • Configure, test, and troubleshoot VLANs
    • Configure, test, and troubleshoot trunking on Cisco switches
    • Configure, test, and troubleshoot interVLAN routing
    • Configure, test, and troubleshoot VTP
    • Configure, test, and troubleshoot RSTP operation
    • Understand and identify the output of various show and debug commands to verify the operational status of a Cisco switched network.
    • Configure basic switch security
  • Implement an IP addressing scheme and IP Services to meet network requirements in a medium-size Enterprise branch office network
    • Understand the operation of private and public IP addressing
    • Understand the operation of DHCP and DNS
    • Configure, test, and troubleshoot DHCP and DNS operation on a router.
    • Implement static and dynamic addressing services for hosts in a LAN environment
    • Calculate and apply an IP addressing scheme using VLSM IP as part network design
    • Understand the requirements for running IPv6 in conjunction with IPv4
    • Understand IPv6 addresses
    • Configure, test, and troubleshoot common problems associated with IP addressing and host configurations
  • Configure, verify, and troubleshoot basic router operation and routing on Cisco devices
    • Understand basic routing concepts
    • Configure and operate Cisco routers
    • Configure, test, and troubleshoot RIPv2
    • Configure and operate basic router parameters.
    • Configure, test, and troubleshoot status of a device interface
    • Configure, test, and troubleshoot device configuration and network connectivity
    • Configure, test, and troubleshoot routing configuration tasks for a static or default route given specific routing requirements
    • Manage IOS configuration files.
    • Manage Cisco IOS
    • Compare and contrast methods of routing and routing protocols
    • Configure, test, and troubleshoot OSPF
    • Configure, test, and troubleshoot EIGRP
    • Configure, test, and troubleshoot network connectivity
    • Troubleshoot routing issues
    • Configure, test, and troubleshoot router hardware and software operation using SHOW & DEBUG commands.
    • Implement basic router security
  • Explain and select the appropriate administrative tasks required for a WLAN
    • Understand the standards associated with wireless media
    • Understand the purpose of the components in a small wireless network.
    • Understand the basic parameters to configure on a wireless network to ensure that devices connect to the correct access point
    • Understand wireless security features and capabilities of WPA security
    • Identify common issues with implementing wireless networks.
  • Identify security threats to a network and describe general methods to mitigate those threats
    • Understand network security threats
    • Understand the need to implement a comprehensive security policy to mitigate security threats
    • Understand general methods to mitigate common security threats to network devices, hosts, and applications
    • Understand the functions of common security appliances and applications
    • Understand security recommended practices including initial steps to secure network devices
  • Implement, verify, and troubleshoot NAT and ACLs in a medium-size Enterprise branch office network
    • Understand the purpose and types of ACLs
    • Configure and deploy ACLs based on network filtering requirements.
    • Configure and deploy an ACLs to limit telnet and SSH access to the router
    • Test and use ACLs in a network environment
    • Troubleshoot ACL issues
    • Understand the basic operation of NAT
    • Configure and deploy NAT for given network requirements using
    • Troubleshoot NAT issues
  • Implement and verify WAN links
    • Understand the different methods for connecting to a WAN
    • Configure and operate a basic WAN serial connection
    • Configure and operate Frame Relay on Cisco routers
    • Troubleshoot WAN implementation issues
    • Understand VPN technology (including: importance, benefits, role, impact, components)
    • Configure and operate a PPP connection between Cisco routers

Where you can go after gaining your CCNA

Once you have successfully gained your CCNA there are a number of paths that you can continue on with respect to your training and deciding other certifications you might take.

At the Associate level there is the Cisco Certified Design Associate CCDA Certification.

There is also the Routing and Switching (CCNA) certification, the Security (CCNA Security) certification, the Voice (CCNA Voice) certification as well as the Wireless (CCNA Wireless) certification.

At the Professional level you have the following certification tracks:

[NOTES FROM THE FIELD] Some of these exams are retiring this year over the summer. I have another article titled Changes in the CCNP exam that outline some of these changes

The Trainsignal family of professional computer training suites offers a number of study and training solutions for the CCNP exam and the prerequisite exams.

Below are all the links to Trainsignal’s exam preps for the current CCNA and CCNP exams

The two of these together can get you to your CCNA certification. If you’re looking to take the in one shot CCNA you could just use the CCNA total solution and to achieve your CCNP, the Train Signal CCNP Training Package is also available.

You can choose the entire suite or order the training separately via the individual components:

There are also certification tracks at the Expert level, including:

There is one exam presently at the Architect level titled Cisco Certified Architect

Additionally there are a few Specialist certifications including:

In this article we reviewed review the summary information regarding the CCNA certification from an overview perspective as well as taking a look at the common body of knowledge for the 640-802

We wrapped up with a quick look at some of the additional training and certifications you can take a look at as you progress in the field and expand your knowledge of the area of Cisco technologies.

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