This page will list out various resources you can use to study for the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) 200-301 certification.
Study resources typically fall into four categories:
- Video Courses
- Lab Software
- Spaced Repitition Software
No single source from any single category will teach you everything you need to know for the CCNA exam. Therefore, it is generally recommended that you pick one (or more!) source from each category, tailoring your choices towards the type of learner you are.
Regardless of which study resources you choose, always keep the official CCNA 200-301 exam topics handy and reference them if you have questions as to whether a topic or technology is within the scope of the exam. In general, every question and simulation that appears on the exam will fall in line with one or more of these exam topics; however, as the website states, the exam topics “…are general guidelines for the content likely to be included on the exam”, but “…other related topics may also appear on any specific delivery of the exam.”
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Wendell Odom’s Cisco Press Official Certification Guide
Cisco Press publishes two separate books that make up the CCNA 200-301 Official Cert Guide (sometimes referred to as the “OCG”). These books are authored by Wendell Odom, a well-respected engineer and author in the computer networking industry.
Readers tend to state that Wendell Odom’s writing style is very detailed and technical, similar to a college-level textbook. If you have experience in the field and are familiar with technical documentation, you will most likely be at home with this book’s writing style.
- CCNA 200-301 Official Cert Guide Library (Hardcover, Kindle) - Contains both Volume 1 and Volume 2 of the Official Cert Guide.
- CCNA 200-301 Official Cert Guide Volume 1 (Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle ) - The first volume of the Official Cert Guide. Covers networking fundamentals, Ethernet Local Area Networks (LANs), Spanning Tree Protocol, Virtual LANs (VLANs), IPv4 addressing, IPv4 routing, the Open Shortest Path First (OSPF) dynamic routing protocol, IPv6 addressing, and Wireless LANs (WLANs).
- CCNA 200-301 Official Cert Guide Volume 2 (Hardcover, Kindle) - The second volume of the Official Cert Guide. Covers Internet Protocol (IP) access Access Control Lists (ACLs), security services, network architecture, and network automation fundamentals.
Todd Lammle’s Cisco CCNA Certification Guide
Todd Lammle is a network and security engineer with over 40 years of experience in the networking industry, many of which have been spent teaching others. Similarly to the Cisco Press OCG, Todd Lammle has published two separate books that serve as a study guide for the CCNA 200-301 certification.
Readers tend to state that Todd Lammle’s writing style is engaging and accessible. If you do not have very much prior experience with technical documentation, you will most likely prefer this book’s writing style. Learning networking concepts using this book will ease you into the computer networking world so that when other resources describe concepts, they will already be familiar to you.
- Cisco CCNA Certification: Exam 200-301 Set (Paperback) - Contains both Volume 1 (Understanding Cisco Networking Technologies) and Volume 2 (Study Guide).
- Understanding Cisco Networking Technologies, Volume 1: Exam 200-301 (Paperback, Kindle) - The first volume of Todd Lammle’s Exam 200-301 Certification Guide Set. Covers networking fundamentals, network access technologies (Ethernet, Spanning Tree Protocol, etc.), IP connectivity and services, security fundamentals, and automation/programmability concepts.
- CCNA Certification Study Guide, Volume 2: Exam 200-301 (Paperback, Kindle) - The second volume of Todd Lammle’s Exam 200-301 Certification Guide Set. Covers all of the exam topics for the CCNA certification exam in a single book. If you read Volume 1 first, then some material in Volume 2 will be review from Volume 1, some material will expand on topics from Volume 1, and some material will be completely new to you.
David Bombal’s The Complete Networking Fundamentals Course
David Bombal’s The Complete Networking Fundamentals Course on Udemy is a well-respected and affordable video course that covers all exam objectives of the CCNA 200-301 certification.
Neil Anderson’s Cisco CCNA 200-301 – The Complete Guide to Getting Certified Course
Neil Anderson’s Cisco CCNA 200-301 – The Complete Guide to Getting Certified on Udemy is another well-respected and affordable video course covering the CCNA 201-301 certification exam topics.
Jeremy’s IT Lab CCNA Video Course
Jeremy McDowell of Jeremy’s IT Lab has a free YouTube playlist containing his complete course on the CCNA 200-301 certification exam topics. An ad-free experience as well as bonus material/content can be found in the course’s paid option here.
CBT Nuggets is an online IT training platform that is well-known for their courses that are broken down into simple, easy-to-digest videos. Their Cisco Certified Network Associate (200-301 CCNA) Online Training video course is useful for introducing new technology concepts in an easy-to-understand way prior to absorbing and memorizing technical details explained through a book or other technical documentation.
Cisco Packet Tracer
Cisco Packet Tracer is a free network simulation software geared specifically towards the CCNA certification. Keep in mind that this software simulates Cisco IOS devices, but does not actually run them. This means that you may experience some quirky behavior with certain technologies that would not happen with actual Cisco IOS software or hardware. Nevertheless, the vast majority of CCNA exam topics can be covered through Packet Tracer.
GNS3 is a free network emulation software that allows network engineers to rapidly create network topologies and test networking technologies using real networking device software. GNS3 itself is completely free, but it assumes that the user is providing their own network device software images - in other words, if you want to run Cisco IOS through GNS3, you need to already have a copy of a supported Cisco IOS image that can be imported into GNS3.
Because GNS3 emulates actual networking device software, it is the preferred labbing software for exam topics that are buggy in Packet Tracer - however, device output and features that are specific to Cisco hardware (such as CEF configuration and show commands) may not work as expected because of the lack of physical hardware.
Cisco Modeling Labs (CML)
Cisco Modeling Labs (CML) is Cisco’s network modeling and emulation software. CML comes in two editions - Personal, and Enterprise. CML Personal requires the purchase of an annual license in order to use. Furthermore, CML is generally hosted on a dedicated server within a virtual machine, as it requires a considerable amount of processing and memory resources. The key advantage of CML over GNS3 is that Cisco IOS images are provided as part of the CML license. For most learners, a CML Personal subscription is the most cost-efficient, practical, and only legal method of obtaining Cisco IOS images for learning/educational purposes.
Spaced Repetition Software (Anki)
No matter what kind of learner you are, you will undoubtedly come across some pieces of information that require good, old-fashioned memorization. The creation and revision of digital flash cards using spaced repetition software is an efficient way of improving your ability to retain and recollect information.
Anki is a free, open-source flash card program that uses space repetition, a cognitive science technique that allows for fast and long-lasting memorization. Jedadiah Casey wrote an excellent series of blog posts about his approach towards knowledge management. Many use Anki during their studies, as doing so will not only help prepare you for the exam, but will make you a better network engineer. Anki’s free cloud storage service allows you to synchronize digital flash cards across multiple devices, allowing you to create flash cards on your laptop, then review them on your phone while on-the-go.