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May 21, 2013

So many Cisco CCNAs, only so much time

By books-fall-on-girl

The updating process that is required for all respectable certification is a double-edge sword for many. On one hand, it keeps the certification relevant and respectable. On the other, new material can be a burden for those looking to become certified or recertified.

This year, Cisco implemented major changes to CCNA/CCENT exams, and I have some recommendations as to which paths to take if you’re at any point in the process of studying for the CCNA Routing and Switching exams.

CCNA/CCNA Routing and Switching Paths

The nice thing about the new CCNA Routing and Switching track exams is that you can mix and match them . For example, if a candidate had already passed the older (640-822) ICND1 exam, he/she can take the newer (200-101) ICND2 exam to complete the CCNA certification; this is true in the other direction as well. This figure shows the potential paths that are possible:



For some, the selection of which path to take may be more dependent on the retirement schedule of older exams. Both the ICND1 (640-822) and ICND2 (640-816) exams will officially retire and can no longer be taken after September 30, 2013. The newer ICND1 (100-101) and ICND2 (200-101) are currently live and can be taken at any time.

For those studying for the composite exam

The decision to take the older exam (640-802) instead of the new exam (200-120) is mostly related to your study schedule. For example, if a candidate was 90 percent complete in his/her studying it would probably be in his/her best interest to take the older exam.

However if a candidate is not that far along in studying (or not started at all) and think it may take more than four months to prepare, then it would be in his/her best interest to study for the newer exam.

Finding your place

When it really comes down to it, the question as to which exam path to take depends greatly on the specific individual. If someone who is thinking about taking the exam is very familiar with Cisco IOS but just hasn’t taken the next step to take the exams, then it would most likely mean his/her studying schedule would be very compressed.

Alternatively, if someone is just getting into the field and has never touched a real Cisco device, it would be smart to take the newer exams.

I hope this answers some questions for those in search of a good path to best reach their goal of achieving a CCNA Routing and Switching certification.

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About the Author

is an accomplished networking consultant for SR-W Consulting ( and writer/editor for infoDispersion ( Sean has been in the IT field for over 15 years, working with companies like Cisco, Lucent, Verizon and AT&T as well as several other private companies. Sean holds certifications with Cisco (CCNP/CCDP), Microsoft (MCSE) and CompTIA (A+ and Network+). His educational accomplishments include: a Master’s of Science in Information Technology with a focus in Network Architecture and Design, a Master’s of Science in Organizational Management, a Master’s Certificate in Network Security, a Bachelors of Science in Computer Networking, and an Associates of Applied Science in Computer Information Systems.

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