Format of the CCNA Exams

The INTRO, ICND, and CCNA exams all follow the same general format. When you get to the testing center and check in, the proctor will give you some general instructions and then take you into a quiet room with a PC. When you're at the PC, you have a few things to do before the timer starts on your exam—for instance, you can take a sample quiz, just to get accustomed to the PC and to the testing engine. Anyone who has user-level skills in getting around a PC will have no problems with the testing envinronment.

When you start the exam, you will be asked a series of questions. You answer the question and then move on to the next question. The exam engine does not let you go back and change your answer. Yes, that's true—when you move on to the next question, that's it for the earlier question.

The exam questions can be in the following format:

■ Multiple choice

■ Simulated lab

The multiple choice format simply requires that you point and click on a circle beside the correct answer(s). If more than one answer is required, the questions traditionally have told you how many answers to choose. Fill-in-the-blank questions require that you type in the answer, so you must get the answer exactly correct.

Drag-and-drop questions require you to left-click and hold, move a button or icon to another area, and release the clicker to place the object somewhere else—typically into a list. So, for some questions, to get the question correct, you might need to put a list of five things into the proper order.

Finally, the type of question that gives most people a scare before the exam is the simulated lab question. The exam engine actually gives you an interface into a network with several routers, and you must log in and troubleshoot a scenario. To solve the problem, you need to be able to navigate through the user interface, know several commands, and possibly configure something that has been misconfigured. You should also save your configurations, unless the question tells you not to save it, just in case.

The best way to prepare for simulated lab questions is to practice with real gear. You can actually find sites where CCNA lab access is free over the Internet—I did a search from tonight, searching for "free CCNA labs," and the first three hits were (seemingly) legitimate offers for free lab access for CCNA study. You can also use a simulator product, such as Cisco Press's CCNA Router and Switch eSIM. A special version of Boson's Netsim product, compiled specifically for this book, is also included on the CD that comes with this book.

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