How To Pass The CCNA! Thoughts and Tips on Passing the CCNA 200-301 Certification Exam

Around mid-February I took a few months break to fully invest my time into studying for the CCNA exam that I had been posting study guides for since January of 2021. While I firmly believe that if you know something well enough, you should be able to teach it; teaching it took up a fair amount of time that might’ve been better spent studying and labbing problems that might come up. With that said, after 2 attempts, I passed the CCNA! My first attempt I failed at a 715, with a mandatory score of 825. If you peruse the reddit threads for this test, this is not an uncommon outcome for a first attempt and if you happen to be in this camp, don’t fret. Knowing now what to expect from the exam, I knew where to reinvest my time and studies. On the second attempt, I passed with an 874. So, below are my thoughts and tips on how to pass the exam the first time. My goal is to make this the article I wish I’d have found before I took my exam.

The NUMBER ONE thing to remember coming into this exam is that, despite the name change, it is still a ROUTING and SWITCHING exam. The new topics added in the 200-301 that include security and automation, they come up, and they should be known, but they are not the entirety of the new exam. Another thing to keep in mind is what was taken out. It is no longer required to know the ins and outs of EIGRP, but you should be aware of what it is. So, when labbing, don’t bother setting up a network that uses EIGRP, but be aware of it’s AD and that it’s a distance vector routing protocol. Sticking with routing protocols, OSPFv2 is a big part of the exam. The 200-301 does not have any simulations, but it is recommend to set up a network using OSPFv2, and setting up static routes and knowing how to differentiate which route the router will choose between a static or dynamic route, and when to use longest match over administrative distance. Another key subject that I missed when studying is focusing on how to accurately determine the longest prefix match. I recommend setting up a 3-tier network using OSPF and pinging various end users and following along in simulation mode (in packet tracer) to view which path is chosen based on the longest prefix match. I will post separate guides and labs to go over some of these concepts at a later time.

Speaking of static routing; If you’re anything like me, IPv6 was a difficult subject to nail down. Of course I can’t tell you how many questions to expect on a specific subject, however, in the case of IPv6, it would be worth knowing how to dissect an IPv6 routing table and determining where a static route will lead in a multi-campus network that uses IPv6. When labbing, it’s typically recommended to keep your IPv6 addresses simple (i.e. 2001::1/64), but I recommend using EUI-64 to get used to reading a full and uniquely generated IPv6 address. You should also be comfortable knowing to abbreviate an IPv6 address.

Other things to remember – 25% of this exam is IP Connectivity, and IP Connectivity is broken down into 23 sub-categories. What this means is, logistically, you’re only going to get a handful of questions for each topic. You should be well versed in every single sub-category in IP Connectivity, as this makes up a quarter of your exam questions (round about 28 if you have a 104 question exam as I did.)

This post isn’t as neat and orderly as other study guides, and I will condense and add more as I recall more that may be helpful.

If you want to be updated when I add to this post, please subscribe to the mailing list to be notified. If you are taking the exam soon, I’d be happy to answer any questions and help out as I can.

As always, stay positive, productive, and happy testing!

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