Cisco CCNA Certification: Why You MUST Have Hands-On Experience

Written By: Chris Bryant, CCIE #12933

CCNA and CCNP candidates hear it all the time: you have to get some hands-on experience to pass the exams.

Candidates tend to think thats just so they can solve the simulator problems, but thats only the more obvious reason.

First, I want to make it clear that Im not bashing learning from books you have to learn theory before you can really know whats going on in the first place. The key is that to truly understand routing and switching processes, youve got to have that hands-on experience.

So if the simulator questions are the more obvious reason to get hands-on experience, what are the less obvious reasons?

Glad you asked!

You see what happens when things dont go according to the script. One of the biggest problems with learning your skills on software programs such as router simulators is that with simulators, things go pretty much as planned.

I have news for you: that doesnt always happen in the real world. While Cisco routers and switches are highly reliable devices, every once in a while youre going to get an unexpected result from a command. Maybe it didnt work after you typed it in maybe it has an effect on your prior configuration that you didnt expect. Maybe you dont know what happened you just typed in that command and the router went nuts!

Sooner or later, thats going to happen to you in the real world. And as I tell my students, its actually a good thing to have happen to you in a lab.

You dont learn to troubleshoot or fine-tune a configuration when everything works perfectly. You dont learn much at all when things go perfectly. And youre practicing to learn!

I often say that great chefs dont learn to cook on cooking simulators they learn in the kitchen, and they burn a lot of meals on the way to greatness. You need to screw up some configs on the way to greatness, and you cant do that on a computer program. You have to be on the real thing.

You build confidence by working with real Cisco routers and switches. Would you want the Super Bowl to be the first football game you ever really played in? Of course not. Then why would you take router configuration exams and be nervous about having to create a VLAN, or troubleshoot an OSPF configuration?

You cannot walk into the testing room a nervous wreck. You must have the attitude that you are already a CCNA or CCNP, and youre just there to make it official. I can tell you from firsthand experience with many students that the way you develop than confidence is to work with the real deal.

You cant buy that confidence, and you cant simulate your way to it. Youve got to work with real Cisco routers and switches. By working with the real equipment, you develop the real skills and real confidence you need to pass the CCNA and CCNP exams.

About The Author

Chris Bryant, CCIE #12933, is the owner of The Bryant Advantage. The Bryant Advantage sells the world’s best CCNA Study Guide in PDF format for only $15 and is the ONLY company specializing in CCNA and CCNP rack rentals, allowing candidates for these certifications to gain vital hands-on experience with full racks of Cisco routers and switches with labs and prices designed just for them. There are also plenty of FREE CCNA and CCNP tutorials! Visit his site at www.thebryantadvantage.com today!


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