Saturday, October 15, 2016

CCNA Exam Objectives Breakdown

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A recent post in the CCNA Facebook Group was a quiz hosted at TechTarget titled "Cisco CCNA Exam: Are You Ready?"  The quiz was written by Chris Partsenidis, the founder and senior editor of the great website.  I took the quiz and did well, as I expected to and was actually surprised by the quality of the questions, although I shouldn't have been considering the author.  Articles like this usually ask simple things like "1. What port does DNS operate on?"

But my first question here is whether or not you can truly gauge your readiness based on a 10 question quiz.  So rather than simply make a statement based on a guess, I grabbed a pdf of the latest exam objectives posted by Cisco and took a look at the numbers.  After copying the text into Kwrite and massaging it a bit, I ended up with a list of 188 topics, one per line, which I will post at the end of this article.  All statements of opinion in this article are my own views and do not reflect any official position of Cisco or Cisco's exam writers.  Anything that I believe to be an actual fact will be noted as such.

Some of these "objectives" can probably be dropped from consideration right off the bat.  For example, objective 1.6 states "Compare and contrast network topologies," and has a number of subtopics including Star, Mesh, and Hybrid.  That accounts for 4 lines of the file, and I seriously doubt that you're going to see 4 questions on this topic.  Honestly, I doubt you'll see any question directly relating to this.  If you see it at all it'll be in a question testing your knowledge of a different and more important topic.

So does that mean there are less than 188 different things to know for this exam?  Hardly.  On other topics, you will get more heavy concepts such as "Configure, verify, and troubleshoot VLANs (normal/extended range) spanning multiple switches."  There's a lot of knowledge that goes into this topic that isn't directly covered by any other topic.  I doubt anyone has quantified that number of unique items that you have to know for this exam, but it's probably a lot closer to 1000 than 188.

Let's get back to the original question that led to the creation of this post.  Can you accurately gauge your readiness for the CCNA based on a 10 question quiz?  I'm going to say no way.  With the hundreds of things you'll be expected to know, 10 questions isn't going to cut it.  Not unless each of the questions requires deep knowledge about multiple areas of the exam objectives.  And this mini-quiz doesn't.

Again, this is all my own speculation on the matter and may not reflect what you see on the CCNA exam if and when you take it.  Despite my thought that they're not going to care much about star vs mesh topology, for example, you may get directly asked that.  I took the CCNA two exam revisions ago now, and it was long enough ago that I really have no idea what was or wasn't on it.  Bottom line, if it's listed in the exam topics, you should take the time to understand it.  It's all fair game.

As promised, here's the plain text list of exam topics, in case anyone has need for that.

CCNA Exam topics via Cisco's CCNA page


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