Most students who are new to networking struggle to learn and memorize everything they need to know to pass (Cisco) tests. When I teach Cisco's CCNA in the classroom, I explain to students how to prepare for and study for the exam.
There is a LOT to remember for CCNA, and trying to “brute force” everything into your head is not the ideal strategy.
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When studying (Cisco) networking, there are two things you must learn/achieve:
- • Theory: comprehend how various protocols run on routers, switches, and other network equipment functions.
- • Practical Experience: You must be able to put theory into practice by configuring routers, switches, and other network devices.
You can learn about the various protocols (theory) by reading books, watching videos, or enrolling in a classroom course. Getting your hands dirty and configuring network equipment will provide you with practical experience.
In my experience, most networking students spend 80 percent of their time reading books and only 20 percent of their time doing actual work. The time spent on setups primarily wastes "copying and pasting" commands only to "see" how it works. Let me explain why this isn't a very successful method:
The model above is known as the "learning pyramid," and it depicts many learning approaches. I'm not sure where this model comes from; it's pretty ancient, and the percentages you see are most likely inaccurate. The model's goal is to demonstrate the efficacy of various research methods. There are four types of "passive" learning methods:
The lecture is the most common and most ineffective form of learning. This is where the instructor stands in front of the classroom and explains things to you while you listen. Don't get me wrong: having present instructor information is critical, but it shouldn't be too long (30 minutes at most) because our attention span is limited. The following item on the list is reading, in which you use a self-study guide to grasp everything.
A pre-recorded video of an instructor explaining things to you could be audio-visual; my GNS3Vault youtube videos are an excellent example. A demonstration is when an educator teaches you (in person) how to configure various items.
All of these research methodologies are passive. It's almost like watching television; you sit or lie down and let the content flow by.
The three "active" methods are significantly more intriguing:
• Group deliberation
• Mentoring others
A group discussion happens in the classroom when you talk with other students about various themes. We configure network equipment in practice, which Cisco refers to as "labs." I love performing labs, laboratories, labs, and MORE labs! It's important to note that I'm not talking about "copy/pasting" commands here, but rather about REALLY thinking about scenarios, designing networks, and debugging to figure out what's going on. Teaching is particularly successful because it allows you to identify your inadequacies… You can't describe something you don't understand. This is especially true when you're standing in front of the classroom, and people are asking you questions… You must be well-versed in your field.
All of these active strategies have one thing in common: they make you think! You won't be able to sit back and relax; you'll have to put your head to work!
My advice is to spend 20% of your time reading or watching instructional videos and the other 80% performing laboratories, labs, labs.
So you know you should spend the majority of your time conducting labs. Is there anything more I should know? Let me show you something about your memory that you should be aware of:
Hermann Ebbinghaus conducted memory (retention) studies in the past and developed the forgetting curve. This demonstrates how quickly we lose information if we do not repeat it. I made up the numbers merely to give you an idea of how your memory works:
- If you learn something and do not repeat it, you will only recall 20% of what you learned on day one after 21 days.
- The more frequently you review material, the better you will recall it. This is due to information being transferred from your short-term memory to your long-term memory.
How frequently you should review knowledge and how much you will recall is a matter of discussion and personal experience, but I believe you get the concept. It would help if you took notes when studying so that you can go over what you've learned previously.
I believe you have studied enough for the time being…
It is now time to put it into action! Study, take notes, do labs, laboratories, and more labs, and if you have any questions, ask them in the comments section! Please let me know what you think. Pass your CCNA exam with 100% pass dumps! Next, you can move to the CCNP or CCIE levels to advance your abilities and career!
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