Prepare to a Cisco Certifications

Are you considering sitting for a Cisco certification exam? Well, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, I’ll be showing you the basics of preparing for a Cisco exam. I’ll begin by discussing the most popular types of Cisco’s certifications, and then I’ll explain the types of Cisco devices, simulators and emulators you can use to prepare for an exam. Finally, I’ll discuss what to expect on a Cisco certification exam and how to prepare for it.

Cisco certifications overview

There are 10 Cisco certification tracks as the following :

  • Cloud
  • Collaboration
  • CyberSecurity operations
  • Data center
  • Design
  • Industrial
  • Routing and switching
  • Security
  • Service provider
  • Wireless

And each of these tracks have various levels of certification. The CCENT and CCT certifications are base-level certifications for people just getting started in the computer networking area.

Once you earn your CCENT or CCT certification, you’re ready to conquer the associate certification. This level certification is also for people who have experience, but are just beginning their certification track. The CCNP certification is a more advanced level certification. You should have four or five years of experience in your specialty area. The CCENT, CCNA, and CCNP certifications require re-certification every three years.

The CCIE certification is for network professionals with at least eight to 10 years of experience. CCIEs must re-certify every two years. And sitting at the top of the certification ladder is the architect level or the CCAR, Cisco Certified Architect. This certification was created specifically for those network engineers who specialize in network infrastructure design. In today’s global society, IT certifications are critical for those pursuing a career in technology.

Devices Used in Cisco Curriculum

Cisco Switch
Cisco router

If you would like to practice your Cisco commands on real equipment, you will need routers and switches and cables. In addition to the Cisco routers and switches, you’ll also need cabling and terminators and various other accessories in your equipment package.
Purchasing real equipment to complete your certification labs can be overwhelming.

Now let’s look at the advantages of real equipment and the disadvantages.



  1. It provides hands-on learning
  2. It provides experience troubleshooting issues only real equipment
  3. Provide cabling experience
  4. it’s easier when you go from being a student practicing for a certification exam to an employee actually using real equipment if you’ve already had experience using real equipment.
  1. It’s expensive depends on what you purchase, but bottom line, most real equipment is going to cost in the hundreds of dollars
  2. Second is you have to be sure about what you’re buying .If you’re going to spend that kind of money on real equipment, you want to make sure it’s going to be meaningful for your purposes
  3. Where to buy is another question that we’re going to look at, but if you purchase from the wrong place, you could have maybe saved some money purchasing it elsewhere.
  4. Another disadvantage is the IOS that comes on those devices. Cisco’s IOSs are continually upgraded. It’s not going to be long before you need to upgrade the IOS on your real equipment if you would like to. The new IOSs are very expensive. Enterprises are moving towards cloud platforms which means they won’t have as many devices on site.

Simulators and Emulators Versus. Real Equipment

Before take a look at Cisco Simulators and Emulators we have to clarify what are the difference between Simulators ,Emulators ,Real Equipment

So what is the difference between an emulator and a simulator? An emulator behaves exactly like real equipment, while a simulator behaves similarly to real equipment. So an emulator is an exact replication of devices.

Now let’s begin discuss about some Cisco Simulators and Emulators

GNS3 : is an option you may choose to complete your Cisco Labs , GNS3 is an emulator. 



  • You could actually build the exact topology you need for your lab
  • GNS3 behaves identically to network devices , and lastly
  • GNS3 allows network professionals to pilot new technologies.
  • You need an IOS for each device and IOS’s can be costly, and difficult to find.
  • GNS3 is more suited for network professionals then students trying to pass certification exams

Packet Tracer : is a Cisco program that simulates network devices. There are many

Advantages :

  • It has a wide range of networking devices
  • It simulates real equipment behavior extremely well
  • There is a very small learning curve to Packet Tracer
  • It’s all-inclusive. You don’t have to worry about finding operating systems to load on those devices
  • Packet Tracer is free to download after you enroll in a one-hour Packet Tracer course.

So here is the website to download Packet Tracer. All you have to do is follow the steps. 

VIRL : is an option when choosing a platform to complete your Cisco labs. It is a robust platform created by Cisco. 



  • It includes licensed operating systems
  • There’s no need to purchase equipment
  • No messy or time-consuming cabling
  • It provides hands-on application of Cisco’s certification preparation.
  • It cost of $199 per year
  • Real equipment can have issues that a simulator or emulator cannot duplicate
  • There’s a learning curve to overcome before building and configuring a topology

If you are interested in purchasing VIRL, you can find it at The Cisco Learning Store.

Cisco IOS Command-Line

The Cisco IOS is the operating system that runs on Cisco devices. It is command-line driven, meaning commands are typed in, as opposed to GUI-driven, when you click on some sort of icon to perform an operation.

Understanding the CLI is essential to passing your exam. It takes more than studying flashcards to do well on a Cisco exam. It’s important to memorize the basic commands.

The CLI is the method that you use to configure every Cisco device, so it’s imperative that you know it thoroughly.

Take the exam

The exams conditions

The time has come to schedule your exam so how do you do that? Well, before you call anyone or email anyone, you have to have some information on hand :

  • You need the exact exam number and name of your exam
  • You need your legal name from a government ID such as a driver’s license
  • You need your Cisco ID number. However, if this is the first time you’re taking a Cisco certification exam, you won’t have that yet. You’ll receive it after you register for your first Cisco certification exam.
  • And last, you need a valid email address 

Getting ready

If you plan on scheduling your exam online, visit
Or you can call a testing center directly, but you still have to visit to get the testing center location and phone number. Some testing centers offer walk-in registration. 
After taking the exam you must take in your mind of all Certified Exam Policies required allows you to focus on passing your exam.

Question types

Cisco exams can include the following question types:

  • Multiple-choice, single-answer
  • Multiple-choice, multiple-answer
  • Drag-and-drop
  • Fill-in-the-blank
  • Simulation
  • Testlet
  • Simlet


The good news is if you want to earn a Cisco certification, you have many training options.

Online training : You could choose online training that is not instructor-led. Cisco, as well as many other training institutions, have digital curriculum you can access whenever it is convenient for you.

Instructor-led training : is a good option if you need a more structured class. Other advantages of instructor-led training is immediate feedback for any questions you may have and the ability to form study groups or clarify issues with other students in the class. 

When considering a Cisco training provider, you should ask these questions. Does the training include assessment questions or practice tests? Does the training include labs? How are the online reviews? 

Practice tests

Practice tests are a great source for evaluating comprehension as well as determining when you are ready to sit for the actual exam.

There are multitudes of practice tests to choose from. Here are some questions to help you in determining which practice test is right for you. Does it cover all of the exam objectives? Can you choose questions by objective? Does it provide explanations to questions? Do the questions reflect the same types of questions as your exam? Are there positive reviews for the practice test online or from someone you know or from a study group? So when do you use a practice test? You use a practice test after you have mastered the exam objectives.

How and when do you use a practice test?

  1. You use a practice test after you have mastered the exam objectives.
  2. They identify and keep track of your strengths and your weaknesses.
  3. They also help you stay the course. Don’t get lost when googling or youtubing questions.
  4. When you have mastered every objective on your practice test with a 90% or better, you’re ready to sit for your certification exam.

How to pass website is a great tool that will help you to get good practice for the exam

Additional learning spots

  • Study groups
  • Cisco forum and website

Thanks for reading. I’ve shared information about different types of Cisco certifications, various Cisco devices, and how to prepare for a Cisco exam.
If you’d like to learn more about Cisco certifications, check out
If you’d like to contact me, you can reach me on LinkedIn.

Resources :



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