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  1. Senior Member
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    Default What it takes to pass CCDA with flying colors (in my experience)

    Disclaimer: Please note that the OCG may barely cover enough content to get a pass. Using these additional resources should cover the gaps in your preparation. Also, I'm not a designer. Still, I would advise all network engineers to look at the design stuff (excluding the marketing information).

    What it takes to pass CCDA with flying colors (in brief, see further below for details):
    (1.) Make your study outline based on the exam blueprint at cisco.com
    (2.) CCDA OCG
    (3.) ARCH FLG
    (4.) Design Zone

    In my experience, some material that was not covered within either the CCDA OCG or the CCDA FLG was found explicitly stated within Design Zone or the ARCH FLG.

    The first time I took the test, I had not consulted the Design Zone or the ARCH FLG. In reviewing areas that I was not prepared for on the first test, I found the missing information in the Design Zone or within the ARCH FLG. Also, I realized that I didn't know the OCG as well as I should have. After reviewing the ARCH FLG and the Design Zone for fuzzy areas, as well as really scrubbing through the OCG again, I was able to pass on a retake.

    You see horror stories on the Cisco Learning Network, where people basically state that you have to "fall in love" with the material in order to pass. I'm not sure if it's love, but I can state that I developed a much greater appreciation of how things "fit together" after I looked over the ARCH and Design Zone material. And that's what you want out of this, right? If so, make sure to include Design Zone and ARCH FLG in your study plans!

    With that said, here's how to know when you're ready for the test:
    (1.) You know all the end of chapter questions from OCG
    (2.) You know the memory tables in the OCG
    (3.) You've studied the ARCH FLG
    (4.) You've reviewed the Design Zone: data center, campus, remote at a minimum, plus any weak areas
    (5.) You can visualize how any blueprint technology impacts the network
    (6.) You make references to gathering business requirements and characterizing the network in casual conversation
    (7.) You no longer want to puke when hearing how the Cisco acronym-of-the-day will power your self-defending network
    (8.) It starts to make sense (minus the marketing stuff ... CCDA is full of marketing stuff)

    About other materials (in case someone wants to know):
    I did also look at CBT Nuggets, Skillport, INE, Boson, and Pearson.

    Disclaimer: I'm giving a PERSONAL opinion. Others are ENCOURAGED to disagree. My opinion is based on comparing these preparation materials to the questions that I was asked on the exam.

    Of these, only the Skillport seemed useful, and it repeated content that you would get in the CCDA OCG.

    CBT Nuggets is OK, if you want an "outline" of the content, so that you have some sort of framework. It is not enough otherwise!

    The INE course, I think it's by the same guy who did the CBT Nuggets course, and seems to be for an older version of the test.

    The Pearson bundle was worthless. Its questions were not of an appreciable level of difficulty. It also included the OCG questions, but I already had the OCG. (I somehow tricked myself into thinking they'd have a superior test engine with some good questions ... NOT!)

    Boson questions were of a similar level of difficulty to the real test, but they didn't cover the same pool of content that is covered by the exam. My high 90's scores on first-time exposure to the practice tests did not mirror my result when I took the exam the first time. I was disappointed, because Boson usually covers all the nooks and crannies.

    Hope this helps.
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  3. Senior Member JeanM's Avatar
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    #2
    Congrats! and thanks for the review!
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    #3
    Really appreciate the detailed material on what is needed to get through this test. Plan on taking this exam at some point this year...or next.
    My Cisco Blog Adventure: http://shawnmoorecisco.blogspot.com/

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    Having just passed my CCDA this morning this is spot on. - IF you're aiming to full marks. I definately dont think it was difficult - actually I am shocked at how easy some of the questions were (fit the shape in the right hole, identify the bird photo amungst a set of dog photos). I am embarrassed I've got it and will be leaving it off my CV until I have CCDP passed. I wish I had done the CCDA right after my CCNA as it would have been extremely useful back then.

    I have the ARCH FLG and DESGN FLG and have read some of ARCH. I think for me the wireless and voip chapters were the most useful and it took me a while to absorb them - they are two areas i have minimal experience or knowledge in. Rest of it was painful and I often found myself disagreeing with the info in there. As its been stated many times CCDA is a marketing tool. I actually put the book down at the end of the security chapter and gave up. But reading a little into CCDP made me pick it up again a week later and actually the wireless and VOIP chapters had some interesting content in them with only the occasional raised eyebrow.

    CCDP is what I'm after and I have to say the FLG by Tiso is really really good, i can open it at any page and be pleased with what Im reading. Its already cleared up a few questions I had as I only passed CCNP in December. Really looking forward to it.
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    #5
    Thanks for the info, Instant000
    من طلب عزائم الأمور ، هان عليه بذل النفس فيها - محمد إبن ابي عامر
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    #6
    Quote Originally Posted by instant000 View Post

    Boson questions were of a similar level of difficulty to the real test, but they didn't cover the same pool of content that is covered by the exam. My high 90's scores on first-time exposure to the practice tests did not mirror my result when I took the exam the first time. I was disappointed, because Boson usually covers all the nooks and crannies.
    Could you elaborate on this? My first-take Boson scores on the last exam I take have historically been VERY close to the score I got on the actual exam. Even though the questions are understandably not anywhere near word-for-word, they do seem to cover nearly all major topics in the blueprint.

    You have me worrying, brother.
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    #7
    Disclaimer: The CCDA exam that I took is not the current version.

    Quote Originally Posted by instant000 View Post
    Boson questions were of a similar level of difficulty to the real test, but they didn't cover the same pool of content that is covered by the exam. My high 90's scores on first-time exposure to the practice tests did not mirror my result when I took the exam the first time. I was disappointed, because Boson usually covers all the nooks and crannies.

    Hope this helps.
    Quote Originally Posted by creamy_stew View Post
    Could you elaborate on this? My first-take Boson scores on the last exam I take have historically been VERY close to the score I got on the actual exam. Even though the questions are understandably not anywhere near word-for-word, they do seem to cover nearly all major topics in the blueprint.

    You have me worrying, brother.
    Sorry for the confusion.
    As you stated "cover nearly all major topics on the blueprint" is correct. Boson did this. What Boson did not do was include CCDP material. How can this really be their fault?

    In fact, the Boson exam engine would have been perfect, if the test was only on CCDA material. I feel that my first exam was poorly written and also included CCDP material. I feel that my second exam was poorly written and also included CCDP material. This is based on my experience taking the exam, and reading the ARCH FLG and Design Zone between the first exam and the retake.

    Disclaimer: The CCDA exam that I took is not the current version.

    My apologies for having you worry, but the problem (as I see it) is that the CCDA was more difficult than the CCDP (if all you studied was the guide). I don't feel that it was difficult due to the exam objectives, but it was difficult because some items appeared to be poorly written and/or marketing-based, and some questions appeared on the exam that could not be tracked to any topic in the CCDA OCG or CCDA FLG. I don't know if the new version of the CCDA exam is any better. The problem, in my case, is that I relied upon the official guide, and that was the reason for my initial failure. I did state that the Boson questions were of appropriate difficulty, but they didn't cover every content area that I saw (they didn't cover outside the objectives, as my exam appeared to). Still, if I had glanced over the Design Zone (as should anyone taking a DESIGN test) and the ARCH FLG, I could have passed this exam the first time around.

    I'm really sorry. I didn't mean to discredit Boson. That was not my intention. I have purchased from Boson in the past, and plan to purchase from Boson in the future. The actual issue is that the test that I took covered more than the vanilla exam objectives (in my opinion).

    I look at my first take like this:
    1. Boson prepared me on the CCDA objectives.
    2. The CCDA version that I took was a poorly written test.
    3. Several CCDP questions appeared on my test.
    4. I could have passed if I had read Design Zone and ARCH FLG.

    So, yes, there were some shortcomings to the test version that I took, but I feel that if I had adequately prepared, my first take would have definitely been a pass instead of a fail.

    I don't want to come across as a Cisco Defender (especially since their lawyers are probably busy writing a trademark for that term as I compose this post), but I would rather look at the issue of clearing this test in terms of how I can adequately prepare to overcome it, versus dwelling on the shortcomings of the exam. So, from that perspective, I just want to reiterate that the exam version I took would be more easily passed if one also consulted the ARCH FLG and the Design Zone in their studies. The CCDA guides alone aren't enough.

    Disclaimer: The CCDA exam that I took is not the current version.

    Please note what I said in my original post:

    Quote Originally Posted by instant000 View Post
    In my experience, some material that was not covered within either the CCDA OCG or the CCDA FLG was found explicitly stated within Design Zone or the ARCH FLG.

    The first time I took the test, I had not consulted the Design Zone or the ARCH FLG. In reviewing areas that I was not prepared for on the first test, I found the missing information in the Design Zone or within the ARCH FLG. Also, I realized that I didn't know the OCG as well as I should have. After reviewing the ARCH FLG and the Design Zone for fuzzy areas, as well as really scrubbing through the OCG again, I was able to pass on a retake.

    You see horror stories on the Cisco Learning Network, where people basically state that you have to "fall in love" with the material in order to pass. I'm not sure if it's love, but I can state that I developed a much greater appreciation of how things "fit together" after I looked over the ARCH and Design Zone material. And that's what you want out of this, right? If so, make sure to include Design Zone and ARCH FLG in your study plans!
    If I had to study for the CCDA all over again, I would have done it in this order:
    1 - Retrieve exam objectives
    2 - Make outline from exam objectives
    3 - Fill in outline from cisco.com (this should fill in the entire outline)
    (Powertip: include pictures)
    4 - Read ARCH FLG (add to outline, if necessary)
    5 - Read CCDA OCG (add to outline, if necessary)
    6 - Study the outline you created
    7 - Pass the exam

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymous
    "All you have to do is go through the objectives and create five good questions on every bullet point. If you can do this, you're ready for the real thing."
    The basic premise behind this method is that an exam can come out today, but it may be many months before a guide ever comes out. This means that the question writer would end up writing the exam questions before the guide is released. As such, they would be very likely to reference material other than an OCG or FLG to find material for their questions.

    In order to make the questions, you're going to have to look up the objective, and get to a point of understanding it well enough to ask a question on it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymous
    "Do you know it well enough to teach others?"
    If you can teach it, you better know it first. This is why some of the more successful test takers are often found writing blogs on their exam topics. In doing this, they have made the leap from pupil to professor. (Most doing this tend to fact-check themselves before posting, especially since their readership may be full of knowledge seekers and/or critics.)

    Just to reiterate:

    Sorry for the confusion.
    The Boson exam engine would have been perfect, if the test was only on CCDA material. I feel that my first exam was poorly written and also included CCDP material. I feel that my second exam was poorly written and also included CCDP material. This is based on my experience taking the exam, and reading the ARCH FLG and Design Zone between the first exam and the retake.

    Disclaimer: The CCDA exam that I took is not the current version.

    Hope this helps!
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    #8
    Quote Originally Posted by instant000 View Post
    The Boson exam engine would have been perfect, if the test was only on CCDA material. I feel that my first exam was poorly written and also included CCDP material. I feel that my second exam was poorly written and also included CCDP material. This is based on my experience taking the exam, and reading the ARCH FLG and Design Zone between the first exam and the retake.
    That's good to hear! Thanks to life, work, and debilitating illness, I wasn't able to study enough to make a run for the old version.

    I'm still gonna use the old version Boson CCDA until I feel I've learned all I can from it, though. I've been watching the new CCDA Nuggets, and it seems cisco have revised/added to their design models, so I'm going to put those on hold for a while and finish watching Jeremy's CCDP Nuggets while using the CCDA Bosons.

    After I feel comfortable that I would have had a decent chance of passing the old CCDA, I'll start over with the new CCDA Nuggets.
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