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Completing the Cisco ICND2 – CCNA

I recently completed the 200-101 ICND2 (CCNA) exam. There is a lot of material that this exam covers. The Cisco website provides a blueprint that covers most of the topics you may encounter. I say most  because that list is not exhaustive, as you may notice by reading paragraph two of that blueprint.

You can take two paths to achieve the CCNA – the 1 exam route (CCNAX) or the 2 exam route (ICND1 + ICND2). I decided to take the 2 exam route simply because I was fairly new to Cisco. There were a handful of concepts I was already familiar with but I thought breaking all the material down into two separate exams would maybe help me learn better. I have some points I jotted down for my completion of the ICND1 saved on my computer and will try to put those into a post in the near future.

Below, I put together the resources I used as well my approach. Then, I provide a brief review of all resources.

Resources:
+ eBook: Odom’s 200-101 OCG
+ Labs: Pearson 200-101 ICND2 Network Simulator
+ Video series 1: Kevin Wallace’s LiveLessons for ICND2
+ Video series 2: Chris Bryant’s CCNA Bootcamp on Udemy
+ Practice tests: Boson ExSim-Max 200-101

My approach:
1. Read Odom cover-to-cover + take notes
2. Watch both Wallace and Bryant video series
3. Review notes taken in step 1
4. Take Boson Exams
*Labs were done all throughout

I started reviewing and learning the new material almost immediately after completing the ICND1. This is very important if you plan on going the 2 exam route because all the ICND1 topics will be fresh in your head – ie: subnetting, OSPF and EIGRP basics, and basic show commands and their outputs.

My reviews:
+ Odom’s 200-101 OCG
I found this to be similar to his ICND1 book – detailed and dry but very good. I like dryness, but that’s me. However, I felt this book lacked some detail about RSTP. I had to resort to online searches to get more info. I found Cisco’s support doc on RSTP to be a good supplement. It does a good job of covering new port states and roles from STP (802.1D) to RSTP (802.1w). Overall, this was a good guide to read and covered almost everything necessary to help complete the exam.

+ Pearson 200-101 ICND2 Network Simulator
Great tool. Very easy to use. Very thorough. Lots of labs (I think 300+). Almost every lab guides you through, step-by-step, which is great. You can also re-run labs over again to ensure you know how to configure something. The Troubleshooting scenarios are lengthy but are excellent practice.

+ Kevin Wallace’s LiveLessons for ICND2
Excellent video series. I liked how his videos were short and sweet and you don’t have to rummage through a 20-30min video to listen to that one key point you were wanting to hear. His videos match up with the exam blueprint which made it incredibly easy to review a topic area. There are also quizzes and interactive activities that ensure you grasp the lessons – this was great as well. Highly recommend this if you can get a good coupon/promo code. I think I had a 50% off promo code. His lesson on EtherChannel Port options – PAgP and LACP and negotiating (Auto & Dynamic and Passive & Active) – is easy to breakdown. Overall, he cuts right to the chase and provides you with what you need in as short amount of time as possible.

+ Chris Bryant’s CCNA Bootcamp on Udemy
This is the best bang for your buck series out there. You get videos that cover both ICND1 and ICND2. I picked this up a while back for $11. The videos were excellent and can be saved for offline use. His videos are thorough and covered almost all the exam topics well. I thought his Port-Security videos were thorough and helpful as well as some of the other less major topics like SNMP, NetFlow, and Licensing.

+ Boson ExSim-Max 200-101
Incredibly useful and helpful tool. This exam engine explains things extremely well and helped me learn a substantial amount. Boson was excellent for the ICND1 and very good for the ICND2. My only bone to pick, although small, is that the CCNA version did not cover as much IPv6 or Managing Cisco IOS File (boot prefs, images, and licensing) as I was expecting. Other than that I felt it did very well in covering Frame Relay, IP Services, routing protocols, and troubleshooting areas. Overall, you won’t be disappointed with this resource.

-Paul

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