Today I Passed the CCNA Wireless Exam

Wait, wasn’t I just studying for the CCIE? After my lab attempt, I decided it was important to branch out a little bit and develop a more T-shaped skillset. I came from a generalist background (read jack-of-all-trades), then specialized in expert-level routing & switching which serves as a great foundation for other networking and infrastructure-related skills.

Passing the CCNA Wireless is one of a few moves I’ve decided to make to ensure my realm of knowledge is not too narrow. I applied the skills I developed while studying for the CCIE toward learning the CCNA Wireless blueprint. I went from zero to passing the exam in about a month.

Well, that’s not completely true. About a year and a half ago I passed the vendor-neutral CWNA exam. This prepared me for the RF and 802.11 fundamentals sections. Within a year and half, there are a lot of specifics that a person can lose, but I was fortunate in that most of the details came right back to me. The Cisco WIFUND exam takes many of the fundamentals from the CWNA and introduces several Cisco wireless specifics.

My sole source of study for this was the CCNA Wireless Official Cert Guide. I read it cover-to-cover and made Q&A-style flash cards for details I wanted to remember as I was reading it (links at the bottom). The OCG is very well-written, however I do not recommend using it as the sole source of study, as I did, if you are still relatively new to networking.

My experience taking the actual exam today was a relatively poor one, unfortunately. For starters, there were a few questions that were not covered at all in the OCG. The OCG does touch every part of the official Cisco blueprint, but it unfortunately does not go deep enough in some areas. In all fairness, this is a difficult feat to accomplish, especially when you are dealing with products featuring multiple GUIs; there is only so much room available in a textbook.

To that end, I’ve heard really good things about Jerome Henry’s CCNA Wireless video series (available on Safari), but I did not take the time to go through it. I do very highly recommend going through Jerome’s video course in addition to going through the OCG.

I had a couple of questions that were not specifically on the blueprint. This is allowed, though, as Cisco always states for every exam “The following topics are general guidelines for the content that is likely to be included on the exam. However, other related topics may also appear on any specific instance of the exam. To better reflect the contents of the exam and for clarity purposes, these guidelines may change at any time without notice.” This is their loophole so that you could never legally claim the exam is unfair.

I had the usual few questions that were worded very poorly. The answers to the questions could change depending on the exact way in which you interpreted specific words. I think the worst offense, though, was that I had one question that was a single-answer multiple-choice, but two of the answers were provably correct from Cisco’s own official documentation! On all of the questions that I had issues with, I took my best guess and left detailed comments explaining why I thought the particular questions were poor. In passing this exam, this is where some luck was involved. Cisco really does read the comments you leave on exam questions, so if you feel a question was poor in any way, do leave a comment, and be sure to be as descriptive as possible.

The bottom line is that this exam is definitely achievable with self-study, though with all exams, having real-world experience does help a tremendous amount. The exam blueprint definitely provides a nice overview of wireless networking as it pertains to Cisco. Many concepts learned can no doubt be applied to other vendors as well.

You can download my flashcard deck here. As always, I recommend you create your own flashcards because they will be more meaningful to you; however it is sometimes helpful to have an outside perspective. This deck contains 415 flash cards:

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