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Prepare for Your Cisco Certification like a Pro

April 17, 2015

CiscoPyramid_RevisedCisco certification can help you get that coveted promotion, or simply help you stay at the top of your game. With some diligent preparation and training strategies, you can make your certification journey a bit less stressful and a lot more successful. In this quick blog post, I’ll be touching on some helpful suggestions to aid you in your certification preparations.

Identify your goal – stick to it!

There are quite a few Cisco professional certifications out there, and now is the time to decide which one you are going to pursue. Create a plan that maps out to your end goal and stick to it. Whether you are a novice and seeking a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) in Wireless, or you are a seasoned pro working toward your Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE), the failure to properly plan is one of the most common reasons people fail their certification exam. Don’t just plan to pass this exam, but set your sights on a more far-reaching goal – identify prerequisites for the next level of certification as well, and include this in your long-term plan.

Mix up your study prep resources

Using the right combination of study materials can help to add more dimension to your study strategy, and can make the overall study process much easier by giving you more interpretations of the coursework. Loading up on a bunch of books can be daunting and downright overwhelming to a busy student. Thankfully, there are other equally valuable resources you can tap into. First thing, join Cisco user groups and communities on social sites such as LinkedIn. Not only do they present great learning opportunities, but the networking that comes along with it can be invaluable in your career. Network and speak with others who’ve been through the certification process and listen to what they have to say. As with all resources, the more you use, the more you are prepared.

Consider professional courses and training

While self-paced study does work for some individuals, there are multiple organizations that offer comprehensive training in a variety of delivery formats. From conventional classroom training to online and self-paced training to dedicated certification training boot camps, there is a training solution to fit most every schedule and need. The best organizations have the advantage of courses taught by recognized industry experts with real-world experience in the field. Another plus is the availability of real and online labs and training equipment that provide an unparalleled hands-on experience. Most courses also offer personalized support, smaller class size and post-course study materials.

There’s never enough practice

Like your school teachers used to say “Practice makes perfect.” This adage holds true for certification prep as well. Read your study materials, books, online forums and simulation materials (online sims and other lab programs). These can give you a good feel for the real devices without the cost of renting equipment or having to vie for demo time. Most Cisco certified professionals would say that such simulations are no substitute for real-life hands on equipment experience, but their value in certification prep can’t be discounted.

Earning a Cisco certification can be one of the best things you can do for your career. It also involves much time and commitment, but the preparation and planning you put into obtaining it can make the process easier and build more effective study habits for subsequent certifications.

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