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  1. Junior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
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    Washington
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    4

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    CCNA R/S; CCNA Security
    #1

    Default I passed - Study info, thoughts and opinions.

    I took the CCNA Security(640-553) exam this morning and got a 988.

    I missed 1 question on VPN. There were a couple other questions I had to use educated guesses for and must have gotten lucky.

    Study materials in order of usefulness:had to use an
    1. CBT Nuggets
    2. GNS3 (I love this simulator. I couldn't use it for the layer 2 stuff but for SDM, AAA, ACLS, and general lockdown it works great)
    3. Transcenders (came with Trainsignal for free)
    4. TrainSignal (I only used this for concept drill down topics due to the wrong SDM version used for the labs. I was pretty dissappointed with the product for that but it served it's pupose to provide deeper detail on concepts)
    5. Cert Guide(I hate reading it puts me to sleep, so I focused on ways to avoid it)

    Here's my study blueprint:
    1. I would watch the CBT video on a subject and lab it on GNS3, if needed.
    2. Then I would drill down on the subject skipping around in TrainSignal
    3. Then I would take the "Do I know this already" in the Cert guide. Based on my score I would hit that part of the cert guide for the question I missed.
    4. Finally, I would run through the Transcenders test questions for that specific subject. I would go back through all questions, even if I got it correct, and review all questions using the Transceders review info.
    5. I went through this same routine on each subject. The objective of this was to solidfy knoweledge on the topic before moving on.
    6. A week before the exam I went through the Cert guide Appendix E "Answers for the memorization tables in the guide. If I felt like I wasn't strong on a topic I would read through that section in the guide.
    7. I also went back through the CBT videos and skipped through parts I knew to make things more efficient.
    8. I did a lot of labs on VPN, IPS, Firewall and made sure I understood where everything was in SDM. I also did CLI labs on AAA, ACL's, and some of the misc. stuff.)
    8. I started taking a lot of Transcenders practice tests, the important part with this is to go through the exam after you're finished and use their review information on anything that wasn't concrete. I would also use this review material on the WRONG selections in the question as well. This helped me to futher understand why the other options were incorrect.

    Time commitment:
    My wife and daughter are probably happier than me about being finished with this. I've been locking myself in the bedroom for about 2-3 hours a night on the weekdays and 5-6 hours on the weekends for the last 5 weeks to prepare for the exam.

    Difficulty level... From my point of view:
    If I were to rate difficulty as Jeremy(CBT's) did, FOR ME, the CCNA Security was about a 6 out of 10 and the CCNA was about a 10 out of 10. I failed my CCNA on the first pass and thought I had failed on the second pass, but squeeked by. This was for the 801 version. I will say though for the CCNA Security I had much better study material, regimen, and a few years of general security experience under my belt.

    I should state that I'm also a Security Admin in the public sector and I've been doing Firewall/Security Administration for the last 2 years. I don't think this helped me too much though because I play more in the FWSM and ASA world so there was a lot of new topics to learn. If I had taken the exam without studying I would have failed.

    I also want to thank everyone on these forums. These forums are very helpful to hear about woe's and successes along with study information and opinions.

    THANKS!!! I think it's time to go for SNRS now... If only I can get motivated.
    Last edited by aaronr; 10-24-2009 at 02:21 AM.
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  3. Cisco Moderator mikej412's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
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    Chicago
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    CCNP CCIP CCSP CCVP CCDP CCDA CCNA CS-CIPSS CS-CIPTDS CS-CIPTOS CS-CIPCSS CS-CFWS CS-CVPNS CS-CISecS ISSP 4013 4011
    #2
    Congratulations!!

    Nice write up!!

    Good Luck with your SNRS studies
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  4. Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    12,308
    #3
    Sounds like that worked pretty well for you

    Congrats!
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  5. Senior Member
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    Feb 2007
    Location
    Birmingham, UK
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    232

    Certifications
    CCENT, CCNA, CCNA:Security
    #4
    Congrats on the pass, thanks for the write up. Im hoping to get mine sorted soon.
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  6. Senior Member davidspirovalentine's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
    Posts
    349

    Certifications
    CCIE# 48754, CCDP, CMNA, CCNA Voice, CCNA Security, Project+, Linux+, PCMP, MCSA 2012
    #5
    Great Score! Well done!

    Your write up was so great so I don't have any questions to ask...

    Regards,
    David
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  7. Junior Member
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    Apr 2009
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    8
    #6
    First, congrats!

    Second, I wish there were so much details about an exam out there like you've posted! Very very helpful.

    Third, good luck in developing for your career, man!
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  8. Senior Member luke_bibby's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Australia
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    Certifications
    BCMSN CCNAS CCNAV CCNA
    #7
    Great work, and really nice write up too for anyone studying for the CCNAS
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  9. Junior Member
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    May 2009
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    Certifications
    CCNA:Security, CCNA
    #8
    I'm a little late but Congratulations on the pass!! And thanks much for the blueprint, well done!
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