The Cisco Certified Network Associate, or CCNA, is a top IT security certification and is one of the most respected certifications in the world. An associate-level certificate for IT networking, it helps candidates boost their professional career with better jobs and higher pay. The CCNA certification proves an individual’s capabilities to configure, operate, and troubleshoot switched and routed networks.

You’ll want to have a good understanding of why you want to achieve the CCNA certification first, along with clear goals when it comes to studying and scheduling your exam. You might consider setting yourself the goal of taking the exam within the next 6 months and budget your study time and social engagements accordingly.

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1. Get Practical Experience

You’ll need both theoretical and practical knowledge to pass the CCNA exam. As you prepare for the exam, you should be able to use theoretical information in real-world troubleshooting and networking issues. For example, it’s common to know that IP is unreliable—but the main issue is being able to determine alternative communication troubleshooting between nodes over IP.

2. Obtain the Proper Study Materials

CCNA preparation includes gathering the right study materials. The best materials to study for the CCNA exam are the latest editions of Cisco’s own books: Cisco CCENT/CCNA ICND 1 and CCNA Routing and Switching ICND2. We also recommend the “31 Days Before” series, also available through Cisco Press. Be sure to cover the practice questions and lab exercises. But before you actually start with the aforementioned books, learn to work with binary mathematics—you should be able to calculate in your sleep. Having this knowledge will help you to pass CCNA.

Looking for more reading material? Read our 5 Most Recommended Books About CCNA 

3. Schedule Practice Tests

Schedule practice tests well in advance of your scheduled exam date. Set a deadline for yourself and check what you have learned in between that time. You’ll discover the areas where you most need to improve.

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4. Refresh Your Knowledge Right Before the Exam

We recommend rereading the Cisco Press books again before your schedule exam date. This will help you refresh your memory, and help you identify anything that you might have skipped over the first time.

The last couple of weeks before the exams should be completely devoted to solving questions. Try to find new questions by searching internet forums and other online mock test platforms as you can find. This should be the point when you have effectively grasped the concepts of networking that will be on your CCNA certification.

5. Take a Breather

Give yourself some time off the last couple of days before the exams. Take it easy and try to relax. A good night’s sleep is very important the night before an exam.  

2 More Things to Keep in Mind:

1. CCNA is Comprehensive

The CCNA exam includes questions on a variety of topics based on TCP/IP studies—to the most comprehensive routing protocols with spanning trees. With so much to study, the exams may seem tough to pass. We recommend a focus on ICDN, which serves the base for all types of Cisco CCNA exams. This requires candidates to go through the length and breadth of the topics.

2. The CCNA Exam is Quick

The CCNA exam includes 50-60 questions and takes 90 minutes to complete. Even if you are well-prepared, answering that many questions in such a short period of time can be stressful. Remember your training and experience! Many of the questions cover real-world issues.


The CCNA certification doesn’t just open the doors to networking success; you’ll be able to market yourself as a networking expert—with global recognition. The certification proves that you are more knowledgeable than your non-certified peers.

Simplilearn’s CCNA Routing & Switching Certification training includes 180 days of access to high-quality, self-paced learning content designed by industry experts, plus industry-related projects and simulation exams. The course aims to provide you with everything you need in order to pass the exam by helping you grasp concepts such as LAN, VLAN, and IP addressing and routing.

Check out our course on CCNA Routing and Switching