IT is a unique career field in a wonderful way. Not only does it offer high salaries in an ever-growing job market, but it also doesn’t require a four-year or even two-year degree to get started. You can launch your career by passing a single certification exam, one that most people can prepare for in a matter of months.
While there are a variety of IT certifications you may want in your portfolio, the Cisco Certified Network Associate certification (CCNA) is one of the most versatile and widely-accepted among them. This certification focuses on designing, setting up, troubleshooting, and maintaining IT networks.
If you want to earn your CCNA certification, boost your chances of passing the test with these top tips.
Take a Certification-Specific Course
The CCNA exam covers networking, but not all networking courses or studying materials are the same. Instead, opt for a course specifically designed for CCNA certifications. The instructors are experienced with the test and know how to train you in the most applicable way.
For example, ICOHS College offers a 15-week CCNA Bootcamp starting in January 2020. Within a few months, you’ll be ready to ace your exam with the in-depth knowledge and practical skills you need so you can take your big first step towards a new career.
Start With Building Your IT Background Knowledge
A CCNA course will teach you everything you need to know. If you’re brand new to IT, it may be more difficult because you’ll need to learn the basic concepts in addition to the finer details of networking.
Some people prefer to do some reading before their course to get familiar with broad concepts like the basics of how networks operate. With this foundational knowledge in hand, you can spend more of your mental energy on the details during your CCNA course.
Use the Right CCNA Study Materials
Many students choose to further prepare for their CCNA by doing extra reading outside of class. If you do, be sure you’re studying for the current version of the exam.
As of 2020, there’s one CCNA exam called the 200-301. Until this year, though, there were several exams. You had a choice between a comprehensive exam called the 200-125 or two smaller exams, the 100-105 and 200-105.
Despite the recent testing change, there are plenty of materials from past exams floating around. Make sure your materials are designed for the 200-301.
Try a CCNA Practice Test
Taking a test well doesn’t just require you to know the information. It helps to be familiar with the test format too. A practice test is a great way to do that while gauging your knowledge and guiding your studying sessions.
There are plenty of practice exams and practice questions online through various resources. Some are free and some cost money, but most of the paid practice exams aren’t expensive. This Udemy CCNA practice test is especially popular.
Join Online Discussions about the CCNA Exam
Because the CCNA is such a widely-used certification, there are people all over the world in the same boat you are. Connecting with them online can be a terrific way to help yourself prepare for the exam.
Look for forums dedicated to the CCNA exam. There’s also a CCNA subreddit as well as multiple Facebook groups. Within these groups and forums, you see questions and answers from people experienced with the exam as well as tips along the way. As an added bonus, by joining these groups you’ll start to network with other current and future IT professionals before your career even begins.
Use the Power of Repetition When Studying for the CCNA Exam
Everyone prefers different study methods, but the simple act of repetition is a great way to stay on top of the details you need to know. Use the Ciscopress books, which are designed to prepare you for the CCNA. Be sure to re-read the areas you’re struggling with. Any time you have a few spare minutes, pick them back up and re-read a page or two.
Repetition helps your brain commit information to long-term memory. Even if you’re only half paying attention, the repetition helps.
Find Stress Relief
Exams are stressful and the CCNA exam is no exception. If you let your stress get the better of you, though, you’ll have a harder time concentrating during the exam.
Remind yourself that the worst-case scenario is that you don’t pass the exam and you’ll just have to retake it. Failing the exam doesn’t mean you’ve failed at your opportunity for a career. You can take the CCNA as many times as necessary.
As you’re preparing for the exam, make a conscious effort to manage your stress too. Dedicate time each day or each week to doing something that’s purely for relaxation like a meditation session, a bath, or a few minutes to shoot hoops outside.
Preparing for Your IT Career with a CCNA Certification
For a career in IT, the CCNA certification is a terrific jumpstart and our 15-week CCNA Bootcamp is a perfect way to prepare. During the program, you’ll learn the fundamentals related to IT and networking, including network security, access technologies, infrastructure services, and network maintenance.
Learn more about our CCNA Bootcamp and reserve your spot before our classes are full! Next session begins in January.