Cisco Certification: Taking Your First Certification Exam

Youâ??ve studied hard; youâ??ve practiced your configurations; youâ??ve used your flash cards over and over again; and finally, the big day is here. Your first certification exam!

For many Cisco certification candidates, their first exam is the CCNA Composite exam or one of the two exams that make up the CCNA, the Introduction To Networking exam or the ICND (Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices) exam.

Walking into a testing center for the first time can be a nerve-wracking experience. Youâ??ve got enough on your mind just keeping all that new information straight without worrying about what the testing experience will be like.

Youâ??re not there to take the exam. Youâ??re there to pass the exam. With this aggressive attitude in mind, letâ??s take a look at what you should expect (and not expect) when taking your first Cisco certification exam.

Be Early and Bring Your ID.

If the testing center is not in a part of town that you drive to in the morning, and youâ??ve got a 9 AM exam, you may find the traffic is much heavier that time of morning than you expected. Driving up to the testing center 10 minutes late is not a good way to get started. If youâ??ve never been to the center before, check their website for directions, or call them for directions. If at all possible, drive to the center the night before your exam.

Make sure to bring your wallet or purse. You cannot take the exam without proper identification. Youâ??ll probably be asked for two forms of ID, one of which must be a picture ID.

The Testing Room

Despite the best efforts of VUE and Prometric, some testing center rooms are afterthoughts. I strongly advise that if youâ??re taking your exam at a technical school, ask to see the testing room BEFORE you sign up for the exam. If it looks like a converted broom closet, it probably is. Those rooms also tend to be right next to classrooms, which can result in distracting noise during your exam.

If your testing center specializes in giving computer-based exams rather than classes, youâ??re probably in good shape. Again, feel free to drop by the testing center before your exam to take a peek at the testing room. Most testing rooms have a window that employees use to keep an eye on testers, and you should be able to take a peek through the window.

When you go in, youâ??ll be asked to enter your social security number as your testing ID. Once you do that, the exam engine starts running. However, this doesnâ??t mean the test starts.

The Survey

When you take a Cisco exam, youâ??ll first be presented with a survey. The survey consists of 10 â?" 20 questions asking about your background, preparation methods, and comfort level with different technologies. This is a good time to catch your breath before starting the exam. The survey will only take about five minutes, and this time does not count against your exam time.

Pay Attention To The Exam Tutorials

Youâ??ll then be presented with an exam tutorial, showing you how to answer the different types of questions Cisco may ask. While most of these questions types are common sense (multiple choice, single answer, fill-in-the-blank), I strongly urge you to pay special attention to the router simulator question tutorial.

The simulator questions carry more weight than the other questions; indeed, itâ??s almost impossible to pass the CCNA exams if you totally miss the simulator questions. While the interface for these exams is intuitive, sometimes students who fail their exam complain that they were not given enough information to answer the question. The real problem is that they didnâ??t look in the right place for that information. Itâ??s not hidden, but spend a few minutes with the tutorial and do not go forward until youâ??re comfortable with the simulator interface.

The Exam Itself

Finally, the exam starts! Remember, youâ??re not being asked anything you donâ??t know. If you have prepared correctly with the right tools, youâ??ll have a passing grade on your screen before you know it.

Speaking of that grade, youâ??ll be presented with it about five seconds after you answer the final question. Cisco exams no longer allow CCNA and CCNP candidates to go back once a question is answered, so be prepared for that.

Knowing what to expect when you go into the testing room for the first time will magnify your chances of success. Work hard (and smart!) while studying, achieve a combination of theoretical knowledge and hands-on work with real Cisco routers, and you are on your way to exam success!

Chris Bryant, CCIE (TM) #12933, has been active in the Cisco certification community for years. He has written several books that have helped CCNA candidates around the world achieve the coveted CCNA certification, including several concentrating on binary math conversions and subnetting questions that the average CCNA candidate will need to answer on their CCNA exams.

He is the owner of The Bryant Advantage (http://www.thebryantadvantage.com) where he teaches affordable world-class CCNA courses via the Internet, and sells his popular Cisco certification books. Heâ??s proud to have helped CCNA candidates around the world achieve their career goals. Mr. Bryantâ??s books and courses are sold on his site, on eBay, and on several other major Cisco certification sites.

In The News:

Put Alexa and Siri to Work  The New York Times
Ready. Set. Write a Book.  The New York Times

USB Drives - What to Look For in a USB Device

Those small USB drives have so many names, pocket drives,... Read More

Setting File Permissions On A Unix Server

File permissions are one of the strengths that the Unix... Read More

PC Owners - The Largest Criminal Gang Ever?

The year is 1981. IBM has just released the Personal... Read More

Protect Your PC from Viruses, Worms & Trojans

Each of the items in the checklist below is part... Read More

Bluetooth Headphones For Your PDA

Nothing is worse than having to negotiate all kinds of... Read More

Mail-merging: The Principles

About mail-mergingMail-merging is the process of merging variable data and... Read More

5 Steps to Removing PC Clutter

It's hard enough as it is these days to get... Read More

How To Become A True CCNA

I've worked my way from the CCNA to the CCIE,... Read More

SmartCar Memory Stick for LapTop Transfer Data

With the new technology used to transfer information to from... Read More

Is Online DVD Rental or Pay-Per-View the Best Way to Get Your Movies?

With renting methods such as online DVD rental and pay-per-view,... Read More

Advantages and Guidelines of Automated Testing

"Automated Testing" is automating the manual testing process currently in... Read More

Can Movie Theatres Compete with Home HD TV in the Future?

The battle is heating up for market share, home movie... Read More

Windows Task Manager in English

You use Ctrl+Alt+Del to see what's running on your PC,... Read More

Is Desktop Search Deserving?

Google, in their march to stay ahead of the pack... Read More

How to Switch to Firefox and Why You should

First things first, what is Firefox? Well, it's a browser.... Read More

CCNA 640-801 Certification Primer

The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Certification is meant for... Read More

Flash Memory, Part I: MMC and SD

MMC and SDFlash memory is available in so many formats... Read More

10 Time Saving Keyboard Shortcuts

Time is money. And when you constantly have to divide... Read More

Selecting a Personal Digital Assistant

A Computer in Your HandCarrying around an address book and... Read More

Home Electronics: The Facts About Plasma TV

Not so many years ago, homes across the country watched... Read More

Digital Cameras Ratings Abolish Camera Comparison Guesswork

Digital cameras ratings are great tools for deciding which camera... Read More

Healthy Webmasters Choose Ergonomic Computer Products

Webmasters usually sit at their computers much longer in a... Read More

Toshiba Wins Hollywood Support for the HD DVD format

What led them to this choice, as all four studios... Read More

HTML Explained: Part 2

Get started creating web pages using text files and HTML... Read More

PDA Bible Free Download

Your Bible At Your FingertipsIt is fairly easy to find... Read More