Submission By:  Jamie Shoup


Everyone has a study story. Perhaps you are late to the certification game. Maybe you have the work experience but are rushed to prepare for the actual exam. Or are you the person spending years preparing with self-study materials and hands-on-training, getting ready for the big test day to bring yourself to that next level? Whatever your situation, how you prepare for a Cisco certification is very important and utilizing the abundance of resources available to you is key in succeeding.

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Imagine intensely studying for about two and half years for a Cisco Certification only to find out you were using the wrong materials! Sadly, things like this do happen; read how one Sales Engineer found out the hard way why it’s important to do your research up front. He graciously shared his “Study Story” in hopes it doesn’t happen to others!


In preparation for the Cisco CCDA Exam, this certification candidate reached for the Official CCDA Cert Guide from Cisco Press as the primary study method; he had received a copy from a colleague who said it was for the current exam and he then also purchased a copy. Now armed with a copy for both work and home, he was ready to study around the clock. In addition to the book, the only resource he used was the Internet (on sites with no required login) for additional research if he needed more information on a topic.


Feeling ready to conquer, the confident customer signed-up to take the exam at Cisco Live. Upon sitting for the exam, the customer felt surprised at the questions and unprepared.  At question 15 he had the exam stopped because he assumed perhaps he had been given the CCDP exam instead of the CCDA. Topics were so unfamiliar he asked to speak with the Cisco team at the testing center; after discussing exam specifics they recommended that he finish the exam. At completion there were only about 8 questions the customer was familiar with.


While at Cisco Live the customer took advantage of the face-time and wondered over to the Cisco Store and spoke with a representative of Cisco Press; after sharing his exam experience the rep exchanged contact information and followed up with an email discussion about the specific material used. Cisco Press informed the customer that the book he was studying from was for the 863 exam - the retired exam! The new Edition came out in 2011 and had been updated with a great deal of new content.

After hearing about the customer’s struggle, Cisco Press then provided the customer with a free digital copy of the CCDA 640-864 Official Cert Guide, Premium Edition eBook and Practice Test, 4th Edition (the latest edition). After taking the Practice Exams included and sourcing all the new material in the Official Cert Guide, the customer was also encouraged to join the Cisco Learning Network, where he logged-in to watch videos, read documents and ask questions from colleagues in the relevant study group forums. Excited to report – the customer has now passed the CCDA Exam.


The moral of the story – check, check and double-check. First step in pursuing an exam is to verify on the Cisco site for the correct exam number to ensure you are preparing for the intended exam. Next, define how best you learn - is it through Practice Tests, books, videos, online documents, simulators, or labs- make sure it’s the right format type of material for you. When purchasing materials, reach for the official products and verify the exam numbers and editions.  Become part of the community that lives and breathes Cisco certification; connect, ask questions, engage. Use Cisco Press, Cisco Learning Network and as your go-to resources before, during and after your exam.


This study story has a happy ending, as the customer passed his CCDA exam. Take the time up front – do your research before you embark on a certification journey of the wrong kind!


What’s your study story?

Email and receive a complimentary review copy of your choice if your #StudyStory is selected to be featured in a future blog post.