PS Exam

  • Full Screen
  • Wide Screen
  • Narrow Screen
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

CCNA Exam Options, Topics to Study and Quest-ion Format

E-mail Print PDF

There are two options available to you to achieve your Cisco Certified Network Administrator (CCNA) certification. The first option is to take the single CCNA exam. Since this was too overwhelming to many CCNA candidates, Cisco created a second option for students to break the Cisco CCNA exam into two separate exams. In doing so, Cisco created a new entry level certification called Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT). This second option will be covered in detail later in this article as will be the three Specialized CCNA certifications.

Single Exam Option - CCNA exam 640-802



The current version of the CCNA exam is 640-802 and was last updated in November of 2007. Cisco seems to have a history of updating this exam approximately every three years. Coincidentally that is also the amount of time your Cisco CCNA certification is valid. So every three years, you must update your Cisco certifications according to the policies of Cisco at that time. This is one of the reasons why a Cisco certification is more valuable than many other IT certifications. By requiring you to recertify every three years, it ensures you are kept up to date with the quickly changing technologies in the IT field. The exam is 90 minutes in length and can be anywhere from 45 to 55 questions. There are 7 types of questions you may see are as follows:

Exam Question Formats

  • Single answer multiple choice

These are multiple choice questions where there is only one correct answer. A question will be posed, and a radio button will allow the user to select the proper answer to the question.

  • Multiple answer multiple choice

These are multiple choice questions where there are multiple correct answers. A question will be posed, and checkboxes will allow the user to select the proper answer to the question.

  • Drag and Drop (DND)

A green list of options will be provided on the left side of the screen, prompting the user to drag each of these to the correct yellow category box on the right side. The items can be removed from the chosen category and rearranged before submitting a final answer using the Submit button.

  • Fill in the Blank

The user will fill in the correct answer to a question or complete an existing sentence, making an accurate statement.

  • Router Simulation

Individual real-world scenarios are given, and the user is prompted to negotiate the proper network arrangement or perform the functions necessary using a simulated hyperterminal screen.

  • Testlet

The user is provided with a real-world scenario, and 3 or more questions are posed with regard to the scenario given.

  • Simlet

This is similar to a testlet question, however each sub-question is offered in the form of a router simulation.


Cisco CCNA 640-802 Exam

Topics Describe how a network works

•     Describe the purpose and functions of various network devices

•     Select the components required to meet a network specification

•     Use the OSI and TCP/IP models and their associated protocols to explain how data flows in a network

•     Describe common networked applications including web applications

•     Describe the purpose and basic operation of the protocols in the OSI and TCP models

•     Describe the impact of applications (Voice Over IP and Video Over IP) on a network

•     Interpret network diagrams

•     Determine the path between two hosts across a network

•     Describe the components required for network and Internet communications

•     Identify and correct common network problems at layers 1, 2, 3 and 7 using a layered model approach

·         Differentiate between LAN/WAN operation and features

·         Configure, verify and troubleshoot a switch with VLANs and inters-witch communications

·         Select the appropriate media, cables, ports, and connectors to connect switches to other network devices and hosts

·         Explain the technology and media access control method for Ethernet networks

·         Explain network segmentation and basic traffic management concepts

·         Explain basic switching concepts and the operation of Cisco switches

·         Perform and verify initial switch configuration tasks including remote access management

·         Verify network status and switch operation using basic utilities

      (including: ping, traceroute, telnet, SSH, arp, ipconfig), SHOW & DEBUG commands

·         Identify, prescribe, and resolve common switched network media issues, configuration issues, auto negotiation, and switch hardware failures

•     Describe enhanced switching technologies (including: VTP, RSTP, VLAN, PVSTP, 802.1q)

•     Describe how VLANs create logically separate networks and the need for routing between them

•     Configure, verify, and troubleshoot VLANs

•     Configure, verify, and troubleshoot trunking on Cisco switches

•     Configure, verify, and troubleshoot interVLAN routing

•     Configure, verify, and troubleshoot VTP

•     Configure, verify, and troubleshoot RSTP operation

•      Interpret the output of various show and debug commands to verify the operational status of a Cisco switched network.

•       Implement basic switch security (including: port security, trunk access, management vlan other than vlan1, etc.)

•       Implement an IP addressing scheme and IP Services to meet network requirements in a medium-size Enterprise branch office network.

•      Describe the operation and benefits of using private and public IP addressing

•     Explain the operation and benefits of using DHCP and DNS

•     Configure, verify and troubleshoot DHCP and DNS operation on a router.(including: CLI/SDM)

•      Implement static and dynamic addressing services for hosts in a LAN environment

•     Calculate and apply an addressing scheme including VLSM IP addressing design to a network

•     Determine the appropriate classless addressing scheme using VLSM and summarization to satisfy addressing requirements in a

       LAN/WAN environment

•     Describe the technological requirements for running IPv6 in conjunction with IPv4 (including: protocols, dual stack, tunneling, etc).


Describe IPv6 addresses

Identify and correct common problems associated with IP addressing and host configurations Configure, verify, and troubleshoot basic router operation and routing on Cisco devices


  • Describe basic routing concepts (including: packet forwarding, router lookup process)
  • Describe the operation of Cisco routers (including: router bootup process, POST, router components)
  • Select the appropriate media, cables, ports, and connectors to connect routers to other network devices and hosts


Configure, verify, and troubleshoot RIPv2

  •  Access and utilize the router to set basic parameters.(including: CLI/SDM)


Connect, configure, and verify operation status of a device interface

•    Verify device configuration and network connectivity using ping, traceroute, telnet, SSH or other utilities

•    Perform and verify routing configuration tasks for a static or default route given specific routing requirements

•    Manage IOS configuration files. (including: save, edit, upgrade, restore)

•    Manage Cisco IOS.


Compare and contrast methods of routing and routing protocols

•     Configure, verify, and troubleshoot OSPF

•     Configure, verify, and troubleshoot EIGRP

•     Verify network connectivity (including: using ping, traceroute, and telnet or SSH)


Troubleshoot routing issues

•    Verify router hardware and software operation using SHOW & DEBUG commands.

•    Implement basic router security Explain and select the appropriate administrative tasks required for a WLAN

•    Describe standards associated with wireless media (including: IEEE WI-FI Alliance, ITU/FCC)

•    Identify and describe the purpose of the components in a small wireless network. (Including: SSID, BSS, ESS)

•    Identify the basic parameters to configure on a wireless network to ensure that devices connect to the correct access point

•    Compare and contrast wireless security features and capabilities of WPA security (including: open, WEP, WPA-1/2)

•    Identify common issues with implementing wireless networks. (Including: Interface, missconfiguration)


Identify security threats to a network and describe general methods to mitigate those threats

•    Describe today’s increasing network security threats and explain the need to implement a comprehensive security policy to mitigate the threats

•    Explain general methods to mitigate common security threats to network devices, hosts, and applications


Describe the functions of common security appliances and applications

•    Describe security recommended practices including initial steps to secure network devices Implement,

     verify, and troubleshoot NAT and ACLs in a medium-size Enterprise branch office network.

•    Describe the purpose and types of ACLs

•    Configure and apply ACLs based on network filtering requirements.(including: CLI/SDM)

•    Configure and apply an ACLs to limit telnet and SSH access to the router using (including: SDM/CLI)

•    Verify and monitor ACLs in a network environment

•    Troubleshoot ACL issues

•    Explain the basic operation of NAT

•    Configure NAT for given network requirements using (including: CLI/SDM)

·        Troubleshoot NAT issues Implement and verify WAN links

•    Describe different methods for connecting to a WAN

•    Configure and verify a basic WAN serial connection

•    Configure and verify Frame Relay on Cisco routers

•    Troubleshoot WAN implementation issues

•    Describe VPN technology (including: importance, benefits, role, impact, components)

•    Configure and verify a PPP connection between Cisco routers

•    Two Exam Option - ICND1 640-822 & ICND2 640-816


As previously mentioned, the extensive amount of material covered in the single CCNA exam is too overwhelming for some exam takers. Thus Cisco provides an option to break the exam into two sittings. This has been speculated was in response to the high failure rate on the CCNA exam. Thus again illustrating why it is one of the most widely respected entry level IT certifications.

The first sitting is for the Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 1 (ICND1) 640-822 exam. Upon successfully completing this exam, you will have earned Cisco’s newest entry level certification, the Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT). This exam is 90 minutes in length and will cover 40 to 50 questions. You will encounter the same 7 question formats as you could see on the CCNA exam so there is no need to repeat them here again. Noteworthy for those preparing for the exam is which topics are covered on the ICND1 and what topics are covered on the ICND2 exam. Accordingly, we have provided the breakdown of which topics are covered in each exam below.


ICND1 Exam Topics

•    Describe how networks function, identifying major components, function of network components and the Open System Interconnection (OSI) reference model.

•    Using the host-to-host packet delivery process, describe issues related to increasing traffic on an Ethernet LAN and identify switched LAN technology solutions to Ethernet networking issues.

•    Describes the reasons for extending the reach of a LAN and the methods that can be used with a focus on RF wireless access.

•    Describes the reasons for connecting networks with routers and how routed networks transmit data through networks using TCP / IP.

•    Describe the function of Wide Area Networks (WANs), the major devices of WANs, and configure PPP encapsulation, static and dynamic routing, PAT and RIP routing.

•    Use the command-line interface to discover neighbors on the network and managing the routers startup and configuration.


The second sitting is for the Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 2 (ICND2) 640-816 exam. This exam is 90 minutes in length and will cover 40 to 50 questions. You will encounter the same 7 question formats as you could see on the CCNA exam so there is no need to repeat them here again. Upon successfully completing this second exam, you will have earned your Cisco Certified Network Administrator (CCNA) certification.


ICND2 Exam Topics

•    Review how to configure and troubleshoot a small network.

•    Expand the switched network from a small LAN to a medium-sized LAN with multiple switches, supporting VLANs, trunking, and spanning tree.

•    Describe routing concepts as they apply to a medium-sized network and discuss considerations when implementing routing on the network.

•    Configure, verify, and troubleshoot OSPF.

•    Configure, verify, and troubleshoot EIGRP.

•    Determine how to apply ACLs based on network requirements, and to configure, verify, and troubleshoot ACLs on a medium-sized network.

•    Describe when to use NAT or PAT on a medium-sized network, and configure NAT or PAT on routers.

•    Identify and implement the appropriate WAN technology based on network requirements.

•    Advanced CCNA Certifications


Once you achieve your CCNA certification, you have many options open in the Cisco world. In 2008 Cisco introduced three advanced CCNA certifications which focused on specialization in different technologies. Obtaining your CCNA is a perquisite for any of these advanced CCNA certifications. Each is obtained by completing one additional exam. These three certifications are as follows:


CCNA Voice which is obtained by completing the 640-460 or 642-436 exam

This exam validates associate-level knowledge and skills required to administer a voice network. Focusing on the required skill set for specialized job roles in voice technologies such as voice technologies administrator, voice engineer, and voice manager. It validates skills in VoIP technologies such as IP PBX, IP telephony, handset, call control, and voicemail solutions.


CCNA Security certification which is obtained by completing the 640-553 exam

This exam validates knowledge and skills required to secure Cisco networks. With a CCNA Security certification, a administrator demonstrates the skills required to develop a security infrastructure, recognize threats and vulnerabilities to networks, and mitigate security threats. The CCNA Security exam puts emphasizes on core security technologies, the installation, troubleshooting and monitoring of network devices to maintain integrity, confidentiality and availability of data and devices, and competency in the technologies that Cisco uses in its security structure.


CCNA Wireless certification which is obtained by completing the 640-721 exam

This exam validates associate-level knowledge and skills to configure, implement and support of wireless LANs, specifically those networks using Cisco equipment. With a CCNA Wireless certification, administrators can support a basic wireless network on a Cisco WLAN in a SMB to enterprise network. The CCNA Wireless exam includes information and practice activities to prepare them for configuring, monitoring and troubleshooting basic tasks of a Cisco WLAN in SMB and Enterprise networks.


Author: Bob Marshall,

Here at CiscoKits we are here to assist you with putting together the best Cisco certification lab for your hard-earned money. In addition, we have the widest selection of equipment available of any vendor to meet all of your Cisco training needs at an affordable price.





Wish to get contents in your Email?

Enter your email address:

Who's Online

We have 105 guests online

Sharing Enriches!

You are here: Class Notes Computer Networking CCNA Exam Options, Topics to Study and Quest-ion Format