I used to work with Cisco equipment during my Degree's time..But after I graduated, I only used packet tracer to exercise..And I'm quite interested in switching and routing..Actually more to routing..Why Conwyn?
Its always easier to study what you are interested in and or enjoy doing. If you are not working with equipment or at least have access to the equipment it will always be more difficult as most networks will throw more problems your way than labs and simulators.
However PT is quite good and GNS3 uses real ios so you can use those to advance your studies. You cant use switches on GNS3 but Cisco ASA can be ran in it so can be useful for CCNP Security oor R&S.
I think generally its recommended if you wnat to move on from the CCNA to do the CCNP R&S then perhaps specialise unnless you are working in a specifc area most of the time such as voice, security, wireless or SP (hope I didnt leave anyone out)
Im studying the CCNP and its a quantum leap from the CCNA for me particularly the routing as I do not use it so its all practice in GNS3 and real equipment. If you enjoy routing you will have fun.
Congrats on the pass by the way
@Conwyn: Ok CCNP R&S...Btw,the CCNP R&S must be taken seperately is it?..
@petenugent: So for the CCNP, simulation is very important is it?..Btw,may I know where to get the e-book for CCNP?..And what book do you recommend?