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What’s on the CCNA Exams

Ever since I was in grade school, whenever the teacher announced that we were having a test soon, someone would always ask, “What’s on the test?”. Even in college, people would try to get more information about what would be on the exams. The goal is to know what to study a lot, what to study a little, and what to not study at all.

Cisco wants you to know what topics to study, and it wants you to be well-prepared for your exams. However, Cisco does not want to be so specific that you can just memorize a very specific set of facts and pass the exams. In short, Cisco wants you to pass the exams because you know your stuff, not because you memorized a set of questions that someone (possibly illegally) posted on an Internet site.

What can be said about the content of the exams? First, Cisco posts exam topics for each exam. This official posting is the basis of what Cisco intends to put on the exams, so you should pay close attention to this list. Also, the breadth and depth of topics on the exams tend to match the Cisco Authorized courses with which they are associated, so it is useful to know the outlines for those courses. Finally, Cisco designs the Cisco Networking Academy Program (CNAP) course materials with CCNA in mind. Looking at all these sources can give you insight into CCNA.

ICND Exam Topics

Carefully consider the exam topics Cisco posts on its website as you study, particularly for clues as to how thoroughly you should know each topic. The exam topics use action words that follow a quasi-standard called “Bloom’s Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain.” Bloom’s Taxonomy defines a standard for word usage for when educators create objectives for courses. Objectives written according to Bloom’s Taxonomy define what the student should be able to accomplish after taking the class. So, when you look at an exam topic, look for the action word. It gives you a good hint about the level of knowledge and skill you will need before taking the exam. (If you want to see a description of Bloom’s Taxonomy, search the Internet. My favorite quick list of terms is at http://chiron.valdosta.edu/whuitt/col/cogsys/ bloom.html.)

The action word in the exam topic gives you a good hint about the level of knowledge and skill you will need to have before taking the exam. For instance, a course objective that uses the word list as the action word means that you should be able to list the features. An action word such as configure means that you should know all the related configuration commands and how to use them. Troubleshoot might mean that you need to know what all the show and debug commands do for a particular topic.

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What does Bloom’s Taxonomy mean in terms of how you study for the exam? It means that you should focus on the action words in the exam topics and make sure you can do those things for the stated topics. For instance, if an exam topic says something like “Configure RIP...,” don’t just study RIP concepts. Also study the configuration details, because the exam topic specifically tells you that you need to know how to perform configuration.

Cisco adds a disclaimer that the posted exam topics for all its certification exams are guidelines. Cisco tries to keep the exam questions within the confines of the stated exam objectives, but doing this for every question and every exam is difficult. Thus, you could see questions that fall outside both the scope and depth implied by the exam topics. However, if you follow the Cisco exam topic guidelines, you should have a good understanding of the breadth and depth of topics on the exam.

Table I-2 lists the exam topics for the ICND exam. You can find these topics in the Introduction to the CCNA ICND Exam Certification Guide and on www.cisco.com. Note that although Cisco’s posted exam topics are not numbered, they are numbered in the Exam Certification Guide series for easier reference. Also note that Cisco has historically changed exam topics without changing the exam number, so do not be alarmed if small changes in the exam topics occur over time. When in doubt, go to www.cisco.com, click Learning & Events, and select Career Certifications and Paths.

Table I-2 ICND Exam Topics

Exam Topic

 

Reference Number

Exam Topics

 

 

 

Planning and Design

 

 

1

Design or modify a simple LAN using Cisco products

 

 

2

Design an IP addressing scheme to support classful, classless, and

 

private addressing to meet design requirements

 

 

3

Select an appropriate routing protocol based on user requirements

 

 

4

Design a simple internetwork using Cisco products

 

 

5

Develop an access list to meet user specifications

 

 

6

Choose WAN protocols to meet design requirements

 

 

 

Implementation and Operation

 

 

7

Configure routing protocols given user requirements

 

 

8

Configure IP addresses, subnet masks, and gateway addresses on

 

routers and hosts

 

 

9

Configure a router for additional administrative functionality

 

 

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Table I-2 ICND Exam Topics (Continued)

Exam Topic

 

Reference Number

Exam Topics

 

 

10

Configure a switch with VLANS and inter-switch communication

 

 

11

Implement a LAN

 

 

12

Customize a switch configuration to meet specified network

 

requirements

 

 

13

Implement access lists

 

 

14

Implement simple WAN protocols

 

 

 

Troubleshooting

 

 

15

Utilize the OSI model as a guide for systematic network

 

troubleshooting

 

 

16

Perform LAN and VLAN troubleshooting

 

 

17

Troubleshoot routing protocols

 

 

18

Troubleshoot IP addressing and host configuration

 

 

19

Troubleshoot a device as part of a working network

 

 

20

Troubleshoot an access list

 

 

21

Perform simple WAN troubleshooting

 

 

 

Technology

 

 

22

Describe the Spanning Tree process

 

 

23

Evaluate the characteristics of LAN environments

 

 

24

Evaluate the characteristics of routing protocols

 

 

25

Evaluate rules for packet control

 

 

26

Evaluate key characteristics of HDLC, PPP, Frame Relay, DDR, and

 

ISDN technologies

 

 

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Cross-Reference Between Exam Topics and Book Parts

Table I-3 provides a cross-reference between the exam topics and the book parts in which they are covered.

Table I-3 ICND Exam Topics Cross-Reference to Parts in the CCNA ICND Exam Certification Guide

Exam Topic

Part

 

 

1

1

 

 

2

2

 

 

3

2

 

 

4

1-3

 

 

5

4

 

 

6

3

 

 

7

2

 

 

8

2

 

 

9

2

 

 

10

1

 

 

11

1

 

 

12

1

 

 

13

4

 

 

Exam Topic

Part

 

 

14

3

 

 

15

1-4

 

 

16

1

 

 

17

2

 

 

18

2

 

 

19

1-4

 

 

20

4

 

 

21

3

 

 

22

1

 

 

23

1

 

 

24

2

 

 

25

4

 

 

26

3

 

 

CCNA Exam Topics

Interestingly, the CCNA (640-801) exam topics posted by Cisco are not simply the combination of the INTRO exam topics and the ICND exam topics. If you look closely, the CCNA exam topics match more closely to the ICND exam topics than they do to the INTRO exam topics.

So, for those of you planning to take the single CCNA exam, what does that mean? Well, for practical purposes, the CCNA exam covers all the topics covered on both the INTRO and ICND exams. However, the length of the CCNA exam does not allow Cisco to ask you about every possible fact. So, you should expect the CCNA exam to include questions that cover more advanced topics, many of which require that you know the more basic facts. For instance, rather than ask a question about how to do binary math, which is specifically mentioned for the INTRO exam topics, you might have to derive subnet numbers – which requires you to use binary math. Another example: instead of describing LAN cabling, you might have a question about troubleshooting a LAN topology, and need to decide if an incorrect type of cable was used. So, while the exam topics do not exactly match up, but you

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essentially need to know all the same concepts on both the INTRO and ICND exams in order to succeed on the CCNA exam.

Table I-4 lists the CCNA exam topics at time of publication. As always, look to www.cisco.com for the latest posted information about the CCNA, INTRO, and ICND exams!

Table I-4 CCNA Exam Topics

Exam Topic

 

Reference Number

Exam Topic

 

 

 

Planning and Design

 

 

1

Design a simple LAN using Cisco Technology

 

 

2

Design an IP addressing scheme to meet design requirements

 

 

3

Select an appropriate routing protocol based on user requirements

 

 

4

Design a simple internetwork using Cisco technology

 

 

5

Develop an access list to meet user specifications

 

 

6

Choose WAN services to meet customer requirements

 

 

 

Implementation and Operation

 

 

7

Configure routing protocols given user requirements

 

 

8

Configure IP addresses, subnet masks, and gateway addresses on

 

routers and hosts

 

 

9

Configure a router for additional administrative functionality

 

 

10

Configure a switch with VLANS and inter-switch communication

 

 

11

Implement a LAN

 

 

12

Customize a switch configuration to meet specified network

 

requirements

 

 

13

Manage system image and device configuration files

 

 

14

Perform an initial configuration on a router

 

 

15

Perform an initial configuration on a switch

 

 

16

Implement access lists

 

 

17

Implement simple WAN protocols

 

 

 

Troubleshooting

 

 

18

Utilize the OSI model as a guide for systematic network

 

troubleshooting

 

 

19

Perform LAN and VLAN troubleshooting

 

 

20

Troubleshoot routing protocols

 

 

21

Troubleshoot IP addressing and host configuration

 

 

22

Troubleshoot a device as part of a working network

 

 

continues