I passed - Study info, thoughts and opinions.

aaronraaronr Member Posts: 4 ■□□□□□□□□□
I took the CCNA Security(640-553) exam this morning and got a 988.

I missed 1 question on VPN. There were a couple other questions I had to use educated guesses for and must have gotten lucky.

Study materials in order of usefulness:had to use an
1. CBT Nuggets
2. GNS3 (I love this simulator. I couldn't use it for the layer 2 stuff but for SDM, AAA, ACLS, and general lockdown it works great)
3. Transcenders (came with Trainsignal for free)
4. TrainSignal (I only used this for concept drill down topics due to the wrong SDM version used for the labs. I was pretty dissappointed with the product for that but it served it's pupose to provide deeper detail on concepts)
5. Cert Guide(I hate reading it puts me to sleep, so I focused on ways to avoid it)

Here's my study blueprint:
1. I would watch the CBT video on a subject and lab it on GNS3, if needed.
2. Then I would drill down on the subject skipping around in TrainSignal
3. Then I would take the "Do I know this already" in the Cert guide. Based on my score I would hit that part of the cert guide for the question I missed.
4. Finally, I would run through the Transcenders test questions for that specific subject. I would go back through all questions, even if I got it correct, and review all questions using the Transceders review info.
5. I went through this same routine on each subject. The objective of this was to solidfy knoweledge on the topic before moving on.
6. A week before the exam I went through the Cert guide Appendix E "Answers for the memorization tables in the guide. If I felt like I wasn't strong on a topic I would read through that section in the guide.
7. I also went back through the CBT videos and skipped through parts I knew to make things more efficient.
8. I did a lot of labs on VPN, IPS, Firewall and made sure I understood where everything was in SDM. I also did CLI labs on AAA, ACL's, and some of the misc. stuff.)
8. I started taking a lot of Transcenders practice tests, the important part with this is to go through the exam after you're finished and use their review information on anything that wasn't concrete. I would also use this review material on the WRONG selections in the question as well. This helped me to futher understand why the other options were incorrect.

Time commitment:
My wife and daughter are probably happier than me about being finished with this. I've been locking myself in the bedroom for about 2-3 hours a night on the weekdays and 5-6 hours on the weekends for the last 5 weeks to prepare for the exam.

Difficulty level... From my point of view:
If I were to rate difficulty as Jeremy(CBT's) did, FOR ME, the CCNA Security was about a 6 out of 10 and the CCNA was about a 10 out of 10. I failed my CCNA on the first pass and thought I had failed on the second pass, but squeeked by. This was for the 801 version. I will say though for the CCNA Security I had much better study material, regimen, and a few years of general security experience under my belt.

I should state that I'm also a Security Admin in the public sector and I've been doing Firewall/Security Administration for the last 2 years. I don't think this helped me too much though because I play more in the FWSM and ASA world so there was a lot of new topics to learn. If I had taken the exam without studying I would have failed.

I also want to thank everyone on these forums. These forums are very helpful to hear about woe's and successes along with study information and opinions.

THANKS!!! I think it's time to go for SNRS now... If only I can get motivated.


  • mikej412mikej412 Member Posts: 10,086 ■■■■■■■■■■
    Congratulations!! icon_cheers.gif

    Nice write up!! icon_thumright.gif

    Good Luck with your SNRS studies icon_study.gif
    :mike: Cisco Certifications -- Collect the Entire Set!
  • dynamikdynamik Banned Posts: 12,312 ■■■■■■■■■□
    Sounds like that worked pretty well for you ;)

    Congrats! icon_cheers.gif
  • hodgey87hodgey87 Member Posts: 232
    Congrats on the pass, thanks for the write up. Im hoping to get mine sorted soon.
  • davidspirovalentinedavidspirovalentine Member Posts: 352
    Great Score! Well done!

    Your write up was so great so I don't have any questions to ask...

    Failure is a stepping stone to success...
  • incasminincasmin Banned Posts: 5 ■□□□□□□□□□
    First, congrats!

    Second, I wish there were so much details about an exam out there like you've posted! Very very helpful.

    Third, good luck in developing for your career, man!
  • luke_bibbyluke_bibby Member Posts: 162
    Great work, and really nice write up too for anyone studying for the CCNAS
  • VetteranVetteran Member Posts: 13 ■□□□□□□□□□
    I'm a little late but Congratulations on the pass!! And thanks much for the blueprint, well done!
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