How to prepare for the CCNA exam

I passed the CCNA exam recently and I would like to share with you the steps that I took, as well as the resources that I used in order to achieve this goal. I wrote more about the value of the CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) certification here.

Gulian Technology - How to prepare for CCNA exam
Gulian Technology – CCNA exam

In order to be awarded the CCNA certification, you need to pass the 200-301 CCNA (Implementing and Administering Cisco Solutions) exam.

Exam Overview

The exam covers the following topics:

  1. Network Fundamentals – 20 %
  2. Network Access – 20 %
  3. IP Connectivity – 25 %
  4. IP Services – 10 %
  5. Security Fundamentals – 15 %
  6. Automation and Programmability – 10 %.

Each topic contains subtopics. To view the full list, check this link.

Exam price

The price of the exam is $300 USD + tax. For the complete list of countries, currency and exams, visit the Pearson VUE page.

You can also use Cisco Learning Credits. To find out more about the Cisco Learning Credits, take a look at this page.

Available resources to prepare for the CCNA exam

Both theoretical knowledge and practical experience are necessary in order to pass the exam.

For the theoretical part, I used a mix of resources.


1. CCNA 200-301 Official Cert Guide, Volume 1

2. CCNA 200-301 Official Cert Guide, Volume 2

The above books cover all the topics and more. There are topics which are not included in the exam, but are covered in the books. They help you to understand different concepts, which are harder to grasp. 


I used Kevin Wallace’s Udemy course: Complete CCNA (200-301) Master Class, which contains all the topics, as well as labs that you can do in Packet Tracer. I prefer a combination of video and text resources when learning. This is why I used both video training and books.

Before scheduling the exam, I participated in the CCNA 200-301 Crash Course event presented by Wendell Odom. The crash course contains almost all the topics included in the exam, but the trainer cannot cover everything in depth due to the time constraints. Nevertheless, you can use it as a tool to review your preparedness for the exam.


I used the Cisco Learning Labs – CCNA v1.0, which helped me a lot. If you want to do some practice labs where you are guided step by step, you can buy this product from Cisco. The link for this resource can be found here. You will have 60 hours of lab time to use over a 90-day access period. The labs utilize Cisco IOS software with Layer 2 and Layer 3 features, and CLI supported on version 15 releases, and are available 24/7.

If you have a tight budget, you can do the labs suggested by Wendell Odom on his blog. You can practice these labs in the Packet Tracer, which can be downloaded from Cisco Networking Academy.

Exam review

When you think that you are ready for the exam, you can check your preparedness with the Cisco Exam Review: CCNA product. I used this product 3 times. It contains approximately 300 questions. Every time you start the test, you are presented with questions from the 300 question pool. After the test, based on your score, you can review the topics that still require some practice.

Schedule the exam

You can take the exam in-person or online. I opted for the in-person method. You need to find the nearest Pearson Vue Testing Center that offers Cisco exams. Not all Pearson Vue Testing Centers cover Cisco exams so make sure you pay attention to this aspect.

I preferred to go with the in-person method because I heard rumors about online examinations ended by the invigilators, and candidates that failed because they were not sitting straight or because they were looking in a different direction or moving too much.

If you are afraid that you might fail the exam, you can buy the Exam Safeguard offered by Cisco, which gives you a second chance. You register for the exam as usual and, if you do not pass on your first attempt, you can sit it one more time at no additional cost. Be aware that this offer ends on April 25, 2023. For more information visit this page.

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