Whats on the CCNA Exam

Study Material For Cisco Ccna Ccnp And Ccie Students

Study Material For Cisco Students

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Every test taker would like to know exactly what is on the CCNA exam as well as the other Cisco certification exams. Well, to be honest, exactly what is on the exam is a very closely guarded secret. Only those who write the questions for Cisco and who have access to the entire question database truly know what is really on the exam.

Cisco makes fairly general CCNA exam content available to the public at the Web site www.cisco.com/warp/public/10/wwtraining/certprog/testing/current_exams/640-507.html.

In fact, this direct quote from the Cisco Web site summarizes the exam:

CCNA certified professionals can install, configure, and operate LAN, WAN, and dial access services for small networks (100 nodes or fewer), including but not limited to use of these protocols: IP, IGRP, IPX, Serial, AppleTalk, Frame Relay, IP RIP, VLANs, RIP, Ethernet, Access Lists.

Well, a lawyer might have been involved in crafting that message. "Including but not limited to" is a telling phrase—technically, anything is fair game. All of us would like to study and understand exactly the topics that are on the test. I strive to meet that goal, but keep the following perspective in mind—the exam that you take will not include questions on every topic in Cisco's CCNA question database. Someone else may get topics that you will not. Many topics are covered on each exam, but with far fewer than 100 questions, it would be impossible to cover all the topics.

So what did we do to help? Well, in this book, we err on the side of covering everything that is fair game on the exam. So, we operate under the following self-imposed rules:

• If we at Cisco Press believe that a topic is definitely on the exam, it is covered in Chapters 2 through 11. If it's in the exam question database, even though you might not get it on your individual test, it's covered in these chapters!

• If we at Cisco Press believe that a topic is simply not in the Cisco CCNA question database, it is not covered in this book.

• If the topic is in the exam question database, but it has a low likelihood of being on the exam, the book notes the corresponding section with an "extra credit" icon.

Start Extra Credit

Studying these sections might help, but spend time on these topics only after you have mastered the most important topics.

End Extra Credit

Cisco posts the list of exam topics on its Web site, www.cisco.com/warp/public/10/wwtraining/ certprog/testing/current_exams/640-507.html.

These topics provide the greatest insight into what is covered on the exam. The topics are listed in bullet format on the Cisco Web site. To refer to the topics more easily in the book, I have numbered the exam topics. Table 1-3 lists the exam topics, their respective numbers, and an interpretation.

Table 1-3 CCNA Exam Topics and Comments

Exam Topic Reference Number

Exam Topic



Name and describe two switching methods.

Cut-through and store-and-forward are the two types referred to, with a third type being FragmentFree. Chapter 4, "LANs, Bridges, and Switches," covers the details.


Distinguish between cut-through and store-and-forward LAN switching.

Deal with differences in internal processing by a LAN switch. Details are found in Chapter 4.


Describe the operation of the Spanning Tree Protocol and its benefits.

STP prevents frames from looping around LANs when physically redundant links exist. Chapter 5, "Intermediate LANs: Spanning Tree, VLANs, and Trunking," covers the details.


Describe the benefits of virtual LANs.

Also in Chapter 5, VLANs allow one switch to create multiple broadcast domains instead of requiring a different switch for each different broadcast domain.


Describe data link and network addresses and identify key differences between them.

This topic relates more to the concepts behind addressing, as defined in the OSI reference model. Network addresses are (typically) not correlated to a particular type of physical network, whereas data-link addresses are. Details appear in Chapter 3, "OSI Reference Model & Layered Communication."


Define and describe the function of a MAC address.

Media Access Control (MAC) addresses are used to address LAN network interface cards. These addresses include unicast (addressing a single card), broadcast, and multicast.


List the key internetworking functions of the OSI Network layer.

Too much to list here—see Chapter 3 for a complete long list and another shorter, easy-to-memorize list.

Table 1-3 CCNA Exam Topics and Comments (Continued)

Exam Topic Reference Number

Exam Topic



Identify at least three reasons why the industry uses a layered model.

Chapter 3 once again covers most of the pure conceptual materials on networking protocols, including layering. Making the software easier to write, making it easier for different vendors to interface with other products, and ensuring that two computers can communicate with each other are just some of the reasons.


Describe the two parts of network addressing, then identify the parts in specific protocol address examples.

The first part of several network layer addresses identifies a group, with the second part identifying a single member of the group. For instance, IP has a network or subnet part, followed by the host part of an address. Chapter 3 covers the basics for IP, IPX, and AppleTalk. Chapter 6, "TCP/IP and IP Routing," and Chapter 11, "Novell IPX," cover the details for IP and IPX, respectively.


Define and explain the five conversion steps of data encapsulation.

Using the TCP/IP protocol stack as an example, Cisco has described the process of data encapsulation. This explanation has been a part of Cisco's intro courses for many years. The full explanation is in Chapter 3.


Describe connection-oriented network service and connectionless network service, and identify their key differences.

Chapter 3 defines and contrasts these two terms. Briefly, connection-oriented means that the protocol communicates between the endpoints before any data is passed, and connectionless protocols do not.


Identify the parts in specific protocol address examples.

IP, IPX, and AppleTalk examples are included in Chapter 3. The formats are actually pretty easy, and IP and IPX are covered in more detail in later chapters, so address formats for IP and IPX will become second nature.


Describe the advantages of LAN segmentation.

Segmentation deals with the concept of separating devices that were previously on a single LAN into multiple LANs. Chapter 4 covers the details and benefits.


Describe LAN segmentation using bridges.

Segmentation using bridges is the same as segmentation using switches. The main advantage is to split the LANs into different collision domains.

Table 1-3 CCNA Exam Topics and Comments (Continued)

Exam Topic Reference Number

Exam Topic



Describe LAN segmentation using routers.

The main advantage is to split the LANs into different collision and different broadcast domains.


Describe LAN segmentation using switches.

Segmentation using switches is the same as segmentation using bridges. The main advantage is to split the LANs into different collision domains.


Describe the benefits of network segmentation with bridges.

This exam topic and the next two are really simply reworded versions of the previous three topics. All are covered in Chapter 4.


Describe the benefits of network segmentation with routers.

This exam topic, like the one before and after it, is really a simply reworded version of the previous three topics. All are covered in Chapter 4.


Describe the benefits of network segmentation with switches.

This exam topic, like the two before it, is really simply a reworded version of the previous three topics. All are covered in Chapter 4.


Describe the different classes of IP addresses [and subnetting].

This topic covers all details of IP addressing. If you want to work in networking, you need to know this well. Chapter 6 describes the details.


Identify the functions of the TCP/IP network-layer protocols.

There are many parts of the TCP/IP protocol suite, including IP. This topic implies that you need to know the various components and their functions—such as TCP, UDP, ICMP, and ARP. Chapter 6 discusses all these protocols.


Identify the functions performed by ICMP.

ICMP has many functions, including the ICMP echo and echo reply messages sent when the ping command is used. Chapter 6 covers the details.


Configure IP addresses.

Configuration of IP addresses is straightforward when you know the format of IP addresses. Configuration is covered in Chapter 6.


Verify IP addresses.

Several show commands list information about the configured IP addresses and whether the corresponding interfaces are up and working. Chapter 6 lists the commands.

Table 1-3 CCNA Exam Topics and Comments (Continued)

Exam Topic Reference Number

Exam Topic



List the required IPX address and encapsulation type.

Chapter 11 covers all the details of IPX, including encapsulation types. When a router forwards a packet, it creates a new data-link header. On LANs, there are several alternative types of headers or encapsulation types. Be sure to memorize these types.


Define flow control and describe the three basic methods used in networking.

Flow control is normally performed by OSI Layer 4 protocols, but, in some cases, it is performed by protocols from other layers. The basic methods are all covered in Chapter 3.


Add the RIP routing protocol to your configuration.

RIP configuration and the concepts behind this distance vector protocol are covered in Chapter 7, "Routing and Routing Protocols." RIP is a routing protocol that fills the IP routing table with routes.


Add the IGRP routing protocol to your configuration.

Likewise, IGRP configuration and concepts are covered in Chapter 7. IGRP is an alternative routing protocol.


Recognize key Frame Relay terms and features.

Chapter 10, "Frame Relay Concepts and Configuration," is devoted to all Frame Relay concepts and configuration. The terms and features are covered in the first section of the chapter.


List commands to configure Frame Relay LMIs, maps, and subinterfaces.

Frame Relay can be configured in several different ways, depending on the network design and the Frame Relay provider. Cisco expects CCNAs to be able to configure all the options.


List commands to monitor Frame Relay operation in the router.

The commands are listed, with examples, in Chapter 10. Cisco will test you on these commands with multiple-choice questions as well as with the simulations on the exam.


State a relevant use and context for ISDN networking.

Chapter 9, "WAN Protocols and Design," covers the details of ISDN concepts and configuration. ISDN is used as a dial technology, both for occasional access and for dial backup.


Identify ISDN protocols, function groups, reference points, and channels.

ISDN includes many options, all defined by a myriad of ITU specifications. Chapter 9 lists the specifications and explains the core concepts.

Table 1-3 CCNA Exam Topics and Comments (Continued)

Exam Topic Reference Number

Exam Topic



Identify PPP operations to encapsulate WAN data on Cisco routers.

Also in Chapter 9, PPP is a serial data-link protocol used on point-to-point serial links.


Configure standard access lists to figure IP traffic.

Chapter 8, "Understanding Access List Security," covers the details of all IP access lists. Access lists are used to filter packets as well as filter routing updates and classify traffic for QoS features.


Configure extended access lists to filter IP traffic.

Extended IP access lists do the same thing as standard access lists, but with many more options for matching the packets.


Monitor and verify selected access list operations on the router.

Regardless of whether standard or extended access lists are used, the same commands, covered in Chapter 8, list the details of what is configured.


Describe full- and half-duplex Ethernet operation.

Covered in Chapter 4, Ethernet can operate at full duplex as long as only two devices exist in the same collision domain. This is typical when a single device is cabled to a LAN switch.


Describe network congestion problem in Ethernet networks.

Ironically, I first heard of the "Ethernet congestion problem" graphed when researching my senior project in college 18 years ago. Covered in Chapter 4, the problem is that Ethernet collisions and wait times increase as load increases, reducing performance.


Describe the features and benefits of Fast Ethernet.

Also covered in Chapter 4, Fast Ethernet is— faster. And it uses the same framing as 10-Mbps Ethernet, which allows for easy migration.


Describe the guidelines and distance limitations of Fast Ethernet.

The details are listed in tables in Chapter 4.


Examine router elements (RAM, ROM, CDP, show).

Cisco IOS Software and configuration files are stored in routers, and you will need to know the commands used to examine them. Also, CDP reveals details about neighboring routers, and you will need to be able to display CDP information as well. Chapter 2, "Cisco IOS Software Fundamentals," covers the router memory, and Chapter 6 covers CDP.

continues continues

Table 1-3 CCNA Exam Topics and Comments (Continued)

Exam Topic Reference Number

Exam Topic



Manage configuration files from the privileged exec mode.

Managing configuration files includes manipulating the configuration, as well as manipulating and choosing which IOS version to use in the router. Chapter 2 covers the details.


Control router passwords, identification, and banner.

Again, in Chapter 2, there are many basic commands that are both useful and covered on the exam. If you see a command in Chapter 2 specifically, you should memorize it—it is surely in the exam question database.


Identify the main Cisco IOS software commands for router startup.

All basic commands, router configuration details, and Cisco IOS Software commands are covered in Chapter 2.


Log in to a router in both user and privileged modes.

The Cisco IOS Software command-line interface (CLI) allows you to log in using user and privileged modes. Look to Chapter 2 for details.


Check an initial configuration using the setup command.

If you turn on or reboot your router when there is no configuration stored in NVRAM, the router allows you to enter setup mode. You can also enter setup mode using the setup command. Regardless, setup is a way to easily configure the basic information needed for a router configuration, without knowing the syntax of router commands.

Table 1-3 CCNA Exam Topics and Comments (Continued)

Exam Topic Reference Number

Exam Topic



Use the context-sensitive help facility.

You can always get help by simply typing a ?. There are a few variations on what you get, depending on when you type the ?. See Chapter 2 for details.


Use the command history and editing features.

Chapter 2 lists the picky details, which you should memorize!


List the commands to load Cisco IOS software from: flash memory, a TFTP server, or ROM.

These commands are very important to network engineers because the commands let you migrate from one IOS to another.


Prepare to backup, upgrade, and load a backup Cisco IOS software image.

The process of upgrading the IOS is as important as the commands used to perform the upgrade, as mentioned in the previous exam topic. The process and the configuration are covered in Chapter 2.


List problems that each routing type encounters when dealing with topology changes, and describe techniques to reduce the number of these problems.

Chapter 7 covers IP routing protocols, including the theory and concepts behind routing protocols. Distance vector and link-state routing protocols are the two main categories.


Prepare the initial configuration of your router and enable IP.

You should be able to use setup mode, as well as configure the router using configuration mode. Both are covered in detail in Chapter 2.

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