Looking for some study advice

mrsockomrsocko Member Posts: 12 ■□□□□□□□□□
Hi, I'm looking to start studying for my CCENT/CCNA and was just looking for some quick pointers. I've read through some threads and I was just looking for a little extra info on the best way to study for it.

I don't have any networking experience (just admin) but i'm competent around computers and technology that I don't struggle with learning new things. I have already watched CBT Nuggets as an intro into the CCENT material and I have a copy of Train Signal's videos too and i'm going to watch those next before I get to studying hard on the material. I have ordered the new Wendell Odom CCNA book and a friend said he has some old material lying around from the studying he never did which he said included testout but he is not sure it will work. I may also have the possibility of doing a short tutor lead course in January but not quite sure of the logistics yet. I think I'm pretty covered with material but if anyone has any good suggestions for better material please let me know. I should also point out I have a home lab consisting of 2 routers and 2 switches for me to practice on.

The thing I really want to know is how long should I study for and what kind of goal is realistic? I'm a full time dad at present so I have time on my hands for about 18-21 hours weekdays and could probably up that to 25 if I did a couple of hours Saturday and Sunday (if my partner is kind to me lol). I have the overall goal of that I would like to be CCNA qualified by the end of 2012 but would prefer to be qualified by summer 2012. Based on the study time I have available do you think any of that is achievable? Obviously I would like to be qualified as soon as possible but I don't want to just "pass" the exam, I want to make a career out of it and do the best I can.

The last thing I want to ask is what is the best way of going about studying for it? I have to admit I learn more from doing and watching rather than reading book after book. I planned on reading a chapter a day and taking notes on what I remembered and going back the next day to re-read it and do the same and then move onto the next chapter and follow the same process. I plan on watching CBT Nuggets and Train Signal to get the visual learning and to follow along with my home lab and eventually just doing my own practice once i'm comfortable. Is this a good plan of action? If you can suggest any more or better learning tips please let me know as I am open to trying anything that might work.

Thanks for taking the time to read my post and I look forward to your comments.


  • BlackoutBlackout CCENT, CCNA-Security, ITILv3, CompTIA S+, CompTIA A+ Raleigh, NCMember Posts: 512 ■■■■□□□□□□
    I personally used lammle's CCENT book, CBTNuggets, and a home lab. Did a solid month of study and passed with flying colors.
    Current Certification Path: CCNA, CCNP Security, CCDA, CCIE Security

    "Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect"

    Vincent Thomas "Vince" Lombardi
  • SteveO86SteveO86 Member Posts: 1,423
    Everyone learns at different paces with different technologies. Just a matter of finding your middle ground, and what's easier books/notes, videos, or actually doing. GNS3 would also be useful for labbing, so you get that feel for the device and work with IOS. Especially for ICND2
    My Networking blog
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  • cyberguyprcyberguypr Senior Member Mod Posts: 6,927 Mod
    Welcome aboard. The resources you mention are excellent. However, I would add two things. The Lammle book will come in handy as Odom's is too dry on some areas. Believe me, you will want to switch gears at some point. In addition, it never hurts having two perpecives on any given subject.

    My second suggestion is building a physical lab. For a couple of hundred dollars you can have a nice lab that will get you through both tests. I tries simulator years ago and got bored rapidly. The lab made a big difference.
  • mrsockomrsocko Member Posts: 12 ■□□□□□□□□□
    Thanks for the replies. I do have a home lab consisting of 2 Routers (2620 and 2612) and 2 Switches (2 2900XL) which should aid me on getting the hands on part and I have a version of packet tracer but I would rather use the bulk on the proper equipment and anything i'm not sure of I can use the sim first. I will look for a copy of lammel book to cross reference with odom's book when i get it.
  • onesaintonesaint Member Posts: 801
    You seem to know your learning method and have some good material. There are 3 areas to focus on for the CCNA. 1. theory, 2. implementation, and 3. facts and details. So, knowing the theory behind OSPF is swell, knowing how to set it up and troubleshoot it is better, knowing what debug output looks like, what the AD and costs are, and how to calculate a route will ensure you pass the exam. The best way I've seen it put is that you'll know when your ready by looking at something like OSPF and immediately thinking about what the debug output looks like and how to configure it.

    Also, I think you've given yourself ample time (maybe even way too much). With 25 hours a week (5 hours a work day) you can devote a lot of time and prepare quickly (maybe 3-6 months?). I would study a subject for a few days to grasp it all (siting your different sources), then again a few days later, then again in a week, and again in 2 weeks. That method works well for committing information to long term memory. Lastly, depending on your preference you can either break up labbing, theory, and detailed facts, or possibly do the labbing and theory together to get an understanding of what the theory is all about. Then commit details to memory later.

    Oh, also you may want to come up with a schedule, pick a date to take the exam, try to stick to it, and choose a single source as your main source, supplementing it with all the other material. Good luck!
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