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Need help with choosing study method

Discussion in 'Training & Development' started by username, Aug 15, 2012.

  1. username

    username New Member


    I intend to sit for the CompTIA A+ and CCNA (640-802) exams and have chosen the self study method for preparation. I have noticed quite a few training providers out there and am having a hard time in making a decision as to which to choose and how to go about studying. Assuming that I have no issue in obtaining self study material regardless of cost, I need the following questions answered.

    1) I would like to sit for the CompTIA 220-801 and 220-802 exams instead of the previous one. Are the new exams available yet? If not, when will they be available? Will I need to go through an entire new course for the 220-801/802 if I study for 220-701/702 or would I just have to make a couple of minor adjustments? Would you recommend starting the 220-701/702 tutorials or waiting for the 220-801/802 to come out?

    2) Assuming that I would not have an issue in purchasing premium online training, can you recommend the best one available that is in depth and explained in laymens' terms? I have heard a lot of praise about Professor Messer's videos despite them being free. Would a premium course be any better? Is CBT Nuggets better than Trainsignal in CompTIA A+ and CCNA (640-802)?

    3) I have read in a previous post that books and video tutorials should be used hand in hand for study in order to get a complete in depth view of everything. Can you recommend the best books (again, premium is not an issue) for CCNA and CompTIA A+?

    4) Does the practical part of the CompTIA A+ exam mean that you have to prepare through real practice with real hardware? Do you need real practice with the CCNA course or are the simulators ample? Are there any simulators for the CompTIA A+ course?

    I'd appreciate some answers since I am getting confused and frustrated browsing around confusingly built websites for information.

    Thank you,
  2. Simonvm

    Simonvm Kilobyte Poster

    I would not worry about it that much. Take a look at the exam objectives and compare to the older exam topics.
    There's a powerpoint presentation with an overview on the Comptia website. Just google "Upcoming A+ Changes".

    Apparently you still have to August 2013 to take the old exam, so I would personally not wait for the new study guides.

    For A+ go with the Professor Messer's. They are free.
    For the CCNA, there are some options.

    - Commsupport has an online CCNA course, check their website for more info.
    - CBTnuggets are excellent, but pricey though.
    - INE has a limited offer on the streaming version of their CCNA bootcamp: CCNA Associate Course - 640-802

    For Comptia A+ go with the most recent Mike Meyers AIO guide (from Mcgraw-Hill publishing). The Official Exam Certification Guides from Cisco Press are the best for the CCNA imho. They have a practice exam engine included, which are great to prepare for the actual exam.

    Just take an old computer and play around with the hardware. There are only minimal "practical" questions as far as I can remember. If you're a bit tech savvy it shouldn't be an issue.

    For ICND1 the simulations from Packet Tracer should be more than enough. Once you get to ICND2 I would recommend buying a lab. You could use the simulators too but real hardware is more fun :)

    No :thumbleft
    Certifications: MCITP: EST, MCDST, MCTS, A+, N+, CCNP, CCNA Wireless
    username likes this.
  3. username

    username New Member

    Wow. That was extremely helpful. Thank you for your prompt and comprehensive answer!

    I've decided to go for the 220-701/2 training instead of waiting for the new ones. I believe there will be a major overlap in terms of the basic concepts since 220-701/2 pretty much covers technologies that are still the current standard. The 220-801/2 exams rather focus on minor changes and omit some of the older technologies that will be out of use soon. Is there any form of bridging exam through which I can just update my certificate to 220-801/2 from 220-701/2 instead of appearing for a new exam?

    I have had a look at some of Professor Messer's videos and he has lived up to his reputation when it comes to the A+ course (I saw a preview of the course from CBT Nuggets and the guy was just annoying, bulking up the videos with his lame jokes in an obviously desperate yet futile attempt to make the videos interesting). As for the CCNA course, I have decided to purchase Jeremy Cioara's courses. However, I need to brush up on some basics before I start some serious studying for the CCNA which I will from the book "Networking for Dummies".

    Apparently the 220-801/802 AIO book is out already. I believe it would be best to purchase that at the moment. A friend of mine also sent me the CompTIA A+ Complete Study Guide from Wiley which is for the 220-701/2. Professor Messer is still working on his 220-801/2 courses at the moment but the structure of the videos seems to insist that the user watches the 220-701/2 videos in order first.

    Can you be more specific about the books? Do I need to buy an account in order to access the practice exam engine?

    I have hopefully gained enough experience from troubleshooting ancient computers for the last 10 years based on trial and error in order to have a good idea about hardware lol...included several electrocutions, burnt fingers and an aquarium full of dead fish (don't ask) so I should be good. I have also learnt from trial and error that every human is a potential Pikachu when it comes to ESD. Just need to cover the concepts that I have missed out from not attempting a full on course.

    I'm considering that. Any specific lab kits that you have in mind that I could also reuse for further Cisco exams (CCNP, CCIE)?

    Thanks again for taking the time to help me out and my sincere apologies for being annoyingly inquisitive.
  4. BB88

    BB88 Kilobyte Poster Gold Member

    CompTIA do offer a bridge exam for new versions of current qualifications.

    You could complete the A+ bridge exam if you have passed the 220-701/220-702 series.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2012
    Certifications: AS Computing, A+, Network+, 70-680, 70-410
    WIP: MCSA: Server 2012
  5. Simonvm

    Simonvm Kilobyte Poster

    Ah, I had a look this morning but could only find the Kindle edition.

    CCENT/CCNA ICND1 640-822 Official Cert Guide: Amazon.co.uk: Wendell Odom: Books
    CCNA ICND2 Official Exam Certification Guide CCNA Exams 640-816 and 640-802: Amazon.co.uk: Wendell Odom: Books This is the 2nd edition though, not the third.

    Bundle: CCNA 640-802 Official Cert Library: Amazon.co.uk: Wendell Odom: Books (20 £ is dirt cheap)

    The practice engine is bundled with the books for free. They are based on the Boson engine. You need to activate them online though.

    - - - Updated - - -

    You should just start with one or two 2950 switches and maybe some 2610 routers. If you really like it and plan to go for the CCNP you can upgrade the switches to 3550's.
    The routing practice can also be done in an emulator but this is not the place to discuss that option. :twisted:

    No problem at all, that's what Certforums is for :)
    Certifications: MCITP: EST, MCDST, MCTS, A+, N+, CCNP, CCNA Wireless

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