CCNA Study Guide: 5 Topics You Need to Know

ccnastudyguideThe Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification provides a process that gives IT professionals a useful set of skills while providing prospective employers with an easy way to measure these skills.

The program was originally created to provide a solid introduction to Cisco’s Internetwork Operating System and networking practices in general. Many companies now require IT professionals to have CCNA certification or be actively working towards it to maintain employment status. The CCNA Video Mentor outlines the importance of CCNA for today’s IT professional and shows you how to successfully complete the certification process. In many circles, CCNA is considered the “gold standard” of networking certifications and Cisco hardware is used in most network deployments.

Once you have received your CCNA certification, you can expect better job opportunities and better salary thanks to the knowledge learned during this difficult, yet rewarding, certification process.

The CCNA covers a wide variety of networking topics. Although you need to know all of them to successfully complete the CCNA exam schedule, there are five topics that stand out as extremely important for CCNA certification and general employment in the networking field.

TCP/IP and the OSI model

The Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model is a concept that standardizes communication within Network Systems by breaking it into abstraction layers. All Cisco hardware is based on this model and you need to know all seven layers of the model for the CCNA exam.

The seven layers include:

  • Physical Layer

  • Data Link Layer

  • Network Layer

  • Transport Layer

  • Session Layer

  • Presentation Layer

  • Application Layer

It’s important to understand not only what each layer does, but how each layer interacts with one another to successfully grasp the concepts of the OSI model.

The Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Internet Protocol (IP) are two distinct network protocols; however, they are used commonly used together to describe the standard data transmission model relied on by the Internet and local area networks (LANs).

TCP refers to the Transport Layer of the OSI model. IP corresponds to the Network Layer of the OSI model. Basically, TCP/IP refers to network communications where TCP is used to transport data across IP networks. The TCP/IP Training Video explains what you need to know for the exam regarding OSI and TCP/IP.

IPv6

Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) represents the latest revision to the Internet Protocol. Although IP was mentioned in the previous topic, IPv6 is tested as a separate component of the CCNA exam.

In addition to some other improvements, the purpose of IPv6 is to provide more unique IP addresses using eight groups of four hexadecimal digits. Currently, IPv4 carries the vast majority of Internet traffic; however, the Internet is quickly running out of unique IP addresses to handle this load.

Most modern business networks are configured using IPv6 which affords almost unlimited scalability for future needs and Wide Area Network (WAN) configuration. You can learn more about IPv6 and how it relates to the CCNA exam in The A, B, C’s of IPv6.

Subnetting

This is a network strategy that breaks large networks into smaller components. Each subnet functions with a unique IP address and components of each subnet typically share common values.

The purpose of a subnet is twofold. First, breaking a large network into smaller pieces makes it easier to diagnose performance issues in a particular section. Also, subnetting allows network maintenance to be performed on a particular section without impacting other areas that make up the network as a whole.

Cisco relies heavily on subnetting to increase system performance and allow for easy diagnosis and isolation of faulty components. You should become very familiar working with subnetting for the CCNA exam. You can learn more in Subnetting Secrets.

Network Address Translation (NAT)

This is the process of modifying IP address information in IPv4 headers while in transit across a network. The simplest type of NAT is known as a one-to-one translation or basic NAT. This is used to interconnect two IP networks with incompatible addressing.

Basic NAT is important because it is often used for remote access by employees. As Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies at major companies become more common, employees are accessing company resources on the go. Basic NAT allows a smartphone or tablet user to connect to network resources, even though they are on a different IP network at the time. This is done using routers which can configure the incoming IP address to match something recognizable by the network.

The CCNA exam gets into more complex NAT usage as well. You can learn more about NAT in some Overview of VLANs & NAT. This course also discusses Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANs); another important topic for successful CCNA certification.

Wireless Access

Cisco offers a full line of wireless routers and access points and most other wireless networking equipment also interfaces with Cisco hardware easily As more businesses rely on wireless in the office than ever before, wireless access technology has become an important part of the CCNA exam.

Even large warehouses are relying on interconnected wireless access points to give their equipment access to network resources anywhere and you will be expected to know how to properly implement this technology for the CCNA exam and in most IT positions you hold in the future.

ICND1 Exam Training Made Easy explains wireless for CCNA certification as well as other important topics you need to know.

Make no mistake – the CCNA exam process is difficult. It is widely considered the most difficult certification process in the IT industry; beating competitors Microsoft and Novell hands-down.

The advantage to studying this material and successfully completing your CCNA certification is the increased job opportunities that immediately become available to you as a Cisco Certified technician.

Companies may not even consider you for a position (no matter where you went to college) if you do not have CCNA certification. This is great because it means even those not fortunate enough to go to college can practice for the CCNA and land a very nice IT position in companies throughout the country and around the world.

Good luck and happy studying!