The prestigious Cisco CCNA certification is going to become even more prestigious later this year - and from all accounts, even more difficult! The current 640-801 exam will be phased out on November 6, giving candidates plenty of time to prepare for that exam. The new 640-802 exam is actually being introduced August 1, giving CCNA candidates an option as to which exam to take.
Naturally, CCNA candidates have a lot of questions regarding these changes. I've prepared this FAQ to answer the most common questions arriving in my email inbox. If your question isn't answered here, send it to me and your question just might be in the next FAQ!
Q: Should I stop studying for the 640-801 exam?
A: Absolutely not. Actually, this should help you accelerate your efforts! Cisco has been kind enough to keep the current exam around through November 6, so you have more than enough time to pass the current version. Also, while I'm sure there will be some 640-802 study tools available soon, you won't have a wide selection until later this year. Never delay your career progress or your studies - hit those books and pass the 640-801!
On a personal note, I've taken Cisco certification exams for almost a decade as well as taking exams from other vendors for about 14 years, and I've never been big on taking a brand-new exam. Some people like to do so, though- it's all a matter of personal preference.
Q: What's this I hear about another Cisco certification being offered?
A: Cisco no longer views the CCNA as an entry-level exam, and I think that's a fantastic change. I have personally taught and written CCNA materials for several years, and I have never considered the CCNA to be entry-level. When you're troubleshooting OSPF virtual links, you are not working at entry level!
Cisco does recognize the need for an entry-level certification, and that's why they've developed the CCENT (Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician) certification. I'll have more details on that in a future article, but earning the CCENT is not required to become a CCNA.
Q: Is there still going to be a one-exam path and a two-exam path to the CCNA?
A: Yes, and again, I expect it to be more difficult to earn either way. If you choose the two-exam path, you're actually going to take two ICND exams - ICND 1 (640-822) and ICND 2 (640-816). The INTRO exam for the current CCNA path will be phased out on November 6, along with the current ICND and CCNA exams. If you choose the two-exam path, passing the ICND 1 exam will make you a CCENT.
Q: Which topics will be dropped when the 640-801 exam is dropped?
A: Following the trend of other Cisco exams, the 640-802 exams will not test on ISDN. That's the only major topic I see so far that will be dropped. This exam isn't getting any easier!
Q: Which topics will be added?
A: A *lot* of them. According to Cisco's CCNA exam blueprint, you can expect to see questions on Voice over IP, wireless, Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol (RSTP), SSH, and wireless security. This is an educated guess, but I'd expect to see even more on router and switch security as well.
Judging from that list, I expect the 640-802 CCNA exam to be even more challenging than the current version. Like I said, you have plenty of time to pass the current version! ;)
Don't see your question answered here? Send your CCNA question to firstname.lastname@example.org, and you just may see it answered in the next CCNA certification FAQ!