How to Prepare for Your CCNA Exam 2021

Updated: Feb 20

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is :

"How do you recommend I prepare for the CCNA?"

I've answered this several times in my DMS and decided to make an updated guide for the new exam. Consider this your one-stop-shop for CCNA studying.


Must Have

CCNA Exam Guide - Provides a detailed overview of the objectives that will be on the exam. Cost: Free

CCNA 200-301 Offical Certification Guide - This is Cisco's guide to the exam material. I personally treat these as my source of truth when taking the exam. Cost: $42.49 on Amazon

Nice to Have

CCNA 200-301 Portable Command Guide - This is a must-have even after you pass the exam. This book has all of the key commands for the CCNA Level Engineers. Cost: $31.49 on Amazon

31 Days Before Your CCNA Exam: A Day-By-Day Review Guide for the CCNA 200-301 Certification Exam - Just as the title suggests, this Is a comprehensive review guide for when you're a month away from your exam. Cost: $31.18 on Amazon

Other Books I've heard Great Reviews about:


The next key component to your success will be a video course.

Popular Training Libraries

Pluralsight: Standard Subscription provides access to their core library. Premium provides access to the full library with quizzes and labs. Standard Cost $29.00 per month, Premium Cost $45.00 per Month

INE: This subscription provides both a video course, labs, and quizzes. Cost: $49.00 per month

Free YouTube Courses

Low-Cost Udmey Courses

If you click a link and it's full price, please wait for a sale. You can usually snag these courses for less than $15.


Finally, you will want to lab the concepts you're learning. #LabEveryday.

Packet Tracer is sufficient for the CCNA. No need to build a big fancy lab if you don't have the money. It's free from Cisco after you watch the 1-Hour how-to course.

GNS 3 is a great more advanced alternative. This is also free but you'll have to find images. Here's a great video on setting it up. This is also a free tool.

If you want something more advance but don't have time or energy to set up your own virtual lab, you can subscribe to They offer subscriptions to GNS 3, EVE-NG, and Cisco Modeling Labs. Cost $30 - $100 per month.

Lab Guides:

101 Labs - Cisco CCNA: Hands-on Practical Labs for the 200-301 - Implementing and Administering Cisco Solutions Exam Cost: $39.99 on Amazon (Free with Kindle Unlimited)

Enterprise Networking, Security, and Automation Labs and Study Guide (CCNAv7) Cost: $54.00

Switching, Routing, and Wireless Essentials Labs and Study Guide (CCNAv7) Cost: $54.00

Free Lab Resources

What are your favorite resources for the CCNA?


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