Sunday, September 5, 2021

My CCNA Studies - I Scheduled My Exam for November!

It has been a while since I have posted an update on my CCNA studies and I am excited to say that I scheduled the exam for the second week in November.

I need to be honest and say that it was challenging to study this summer.  I feel like summers are not that long in Connecticut.  I took most of July off from studying to enjoy the warm weather and to spend quality time with my wife and kids. While we were on vacation my plan was to study at night when the kids were in bed but that did not turn out as planned and I am really happy it did. 

My wife and I had previous employers that did not allow employees to take more than a week at a time of vacation unless there was a major life changing event. So taking two full weeks was one of the best vacations we had since we got married.  But after we got done with vacation I knew that I had to make up some ground with my studies. 

I have been studying on and off since earlier this year but truth is that I did not have the official accountability. But now I do with my exam schedule and once I did, in the words of Emeril Legasse, I "kicked it up a notch!".  

 Learning networking technologies is not easy for me to understand but I still like it.  I am a person that loves how things are made and work.  At work I have been taking advantage of the overtime and working six days a week most of 2021. Nobody at work has wanted the overtime on Saturdays, except another technician but it is really quiet so I take the opportunity to do a full day of studying.  Even then I still feel like it has been a challenge to study eight to 11 hours every Saturday but what keeps me in check is having the exam scheduled.

As soon as I scheduled it I knew I needed a good lab to work with since the Cisco labs I got in March expired and were only available for three months. I wish they would just provide access to that for the whole year. Three months of access is not enough in my opinion unless you already have experience in networking and just need to review some things in a lab environment.  So I  went and got both the Boson NetSim for labs and the ExSim as a practice exam. So far the labs are just as good if not better than the ones from Cisco. I like the format and the way they go about it. I like how they create multiple tasks that are repetitive. It helps me to grasp the commands when configuring the devices and for anyone who is a musician can appreciate and understand how important repetition is.  

Since then I have been able to understand more how NAT and PAT work along with many other protocols and configurations. I also change it up and use David Bombals CCNA and Packet Tracers courses.  His Packet Tracer course on Udemy is great.  If you do not have enough funds to purchase the NetSim from Boson get his course.  You wont regret it but definitely get the ExSim if you do not have a practice exam for the CCNA.  I went through a few questions on exam one and they are really good. I heard others online say how the Boson ExSim is close to the Cisco exam. 

I like David Bombal's Packet Tracer courses because he challenges one to go about real-life-like scenarios before providing the how to. I think it's important to do so to force one to learn the process because in real life we will need to do our own research to troubleshoot and configure a network. 

For books, I had the digital copy of Cisco Cert Guide but somehow they got removed from OReilly Books from my company so I have Todd Lammle's book and will say it's an easier read. I should have used these a long time ago because the OCGs are a tough read.  

In all, I am excited and nervous to take the exam in three months. August almost gone but I have learned a good amount from earlier this year.

What I might do next is just go through the first of the three available exams by Boson to get an idea of where my strengths and weaknesses are and focus on where I don't know anything. 

Let me know if you have any struggles and successes. I like to see what people have done to pass their exams and their experience with the exam taken at home or work.