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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
For an allegedly "entry-level" certification exam, Cisco's CCNA has never been easy. As of March 12, 2002, it's even tougher. Now, in addition to multiple-choice and fill-in response questions, you may find yourself up against a real-life performance simulation. Cisco's new Exam 640-607 will present CCNA candidates with actual networking scenarios and topologies: you must identify the appropriate tasks, choose the right routers to perform them on, then enter the correct commands in the exam's built-in router simulator.
The goal, of course, is to "provide a higher-level focus on testing candidate's knowledge, skills and abilities" -- in other words, to make sure the CCNA more accurately reflects the realities of work as a Cisco networking professional. For you, it simply means this: you need to be more prepared than ever.
What Cisco is taking with one hand, it's giving back with another: Cisco Press's new CCNA Exam Certification Guide, Third Edition offers comprehensive and expert preparation for the new exam -- including its simulator components.
Cisco hasn't changed the topics covered on the exam, but that hasn't stopped author (and CCIE) Wendell Odom from thoroughly revising and extending his book. CCNA Exam Certification Guide, Third Edition draws upon all of Odom's immense experience in networking (eighteen years building and managing networks, extensive experience authoring Cisco-related course curricula, and eight years delivering Cisco-certified courses at all levels).
In this edition, Odom has reorganized much of the content to teach routing and switching far more effectively; in particular, thoroughly rewriting the sections on LANs, frame relay, and subnetting. He's also updated dozens of figures with additional information that allows them to stand alone: You can now understand his key points at a glance, without reading the surrounding narrative.
In addition, he's added features that make the book far more useful to CCNA candidates -- and any working Cisco professional. For instance, there's a new chapter full of hands-on lab exercises designed to give you the practice you need to take on the simulator. There are new "Extra Credit" sections, which go beyond the exam to offer crucial insights for working network professionals. There's a new appendix designed to give you practice with subnetting -- and with using the handy calculation "tricks" Odom introduces in the main text.
These features build on a format that's already well designed for efficient learning. Odom has designed the book to offer two learning pathways: one for readers "who need a thorough background before their final study time"; the other for readers who are "reviewing and filling in the missing parts of their CCNA knowledge."
To this end, each chapter begins with a "Do I Know This Already" quiz designed to help you focus on the topics where you need the most help. Chapters also end with extensive quizzes to make sure you're comfortable with the material. Each chapter contains scenario-based exercises that put your skills to work. There's also a CD-ROM test engine containing more than 200 unique practice questions. You can take complete sample exams, or tell the test engine to focus on specific topics.
As you'd expect from the "official" study guide, this one covers all areas of the exam. It starts with an overview of the CCNA certification process itself; then introduces the fundamentals of the Cisco IOS. You don't have to be a complete master of the IOS to pass your CCNA, but Odom makes sure you do know the fundamentals that are covered: accessing and using the command-line interface, basic router configuration commands, upgrading IOS software, and the differences between IOS on routers and on Cisco's 1900 series switches. You've also got to know that "academic" OSI layered network stuff; Odom makes sure you do.
You'll find detailed chapters on bridges and switching; then on Virtual LANs (VLANs) and trunking. Next, Odom presents comprehensive review information for TCP/IP networking, including IP routing concepts and protocols, as well as IP access list security. The book also contains thorough coverage of point-to-point WAN Protocols, dial-on-demand routing, frame relay, and for those with older NetWare networks, Novell IPX.
Well organized, easy to understand, and respectful of your time, CCNA Exam Certification Guide, Third Edition is worthy of the Cisco logo it bears. (Bill Camarda)
Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer with nearly 20 years' experience in helping technology companies deploy and market advanced software, computing, and networking products and services. He served for nearly ten years as vice president of a New Jerseybased marketing company, where he supervised a wide range of graphics and web design projects. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks For Dummies®, Second Edition.