Passing the Microsoft 70-410 exam: one trainer’s perspective (Part 1)

August 22, 2014 at 10:48 am | Posted in Microsoft, Study hints, study tips | 11 Comments
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Editor’s note: today’s guest post was written by IT instructor Scott Winger. Scott is a computing technologist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and a technical editor for VMware Press. He also teaches continuing education classes in IT for Madison College.

You did the labs, looked at countless flash cards, and sat almost two dozen mock exams. You read: tons. You paid your hundred and fifty bucks. Now you’ve just clicked End Exam on the real deal, the Microsoft 70-410: Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012 exam.

So, in the second or two that Microsoft takes to grade your work, there’s a moment of confidence and pride because you know you nailed it. And then the confirmation appears: “Congratulations! You’ve passed.”

The above was my experience.

But how will you achieve that End-Exam moment of confidence and pride?

What do you need to buy?

What are the steps?

This set of posts, “Passing the Microsoft 70-410 exam,” will help you answer those questions.  I’ll provide closely focused examples from each of the official objective areas to help you know, how, where, when, and on what to focus your three required types of effort: lab work, research, and drilling.

What to Buy

The serious student who lacks reasonable access to a server will need to pay for labs, textbooks, or even training at some point. However, the good news is that there are many professional-level resources available for free.

For the price of a simple login, the Microsoft Virtual Academy allows you to customize a course of targeted videos and some basic self-assessment materials. The following link will deliver over 20 mini-courses for you to explore:

On the TechNet Video channel, you can access a series of screencasts and technologies geared for IT pros:

These overviews can be a great way to gain confidence in the material. However, for serious study and practice assessment, you’ll probably want to investigate the following resources, all of which I can recommend from personal use.

Craig Zacker wrote the Microsoft Official Academic Curriculum, Installing and Configuring Server 2012 R2. This course is available as both a textbook and a lab manual, and they are superbly constructed. And, not only did Craig team up with Microsoft’s Server 2012 team to write this book, but if you don’t have access to a machine with at least 12GB of RAM and an i5 class or better processor, you can buy a MOAC edition that comes with the Microsoft Official Academic Curriculum Labs Online space, which provides all the horsepower you’ll need for doing the labs.

(Note: the “Server 1” course I taught at my local Technical College came right out of Craig’s book. So check out the course catalog of your nearest Technical or Community College. You may be surprised how pertinent, affordable, and enriching these institutions can be.)

The next vital acquisition is one of the Server 2012 R2 tomes, which are designed to cover every role and feature and provide the valuable insights of their highly qualified authors. I used Mark Minasi’s Mastering Windows Server 2012 R2, and found it to be excellent.

When you’re ready to test your knowledge,’s 70-410 Exam Engine is not an option: it’s essential. The only question is when to buy it. (Read on for my recommendations for timing your purchase.) However, at this early stage, it’s worth joining the Transcender Club (a free login) so that you’ll be notified of any flash sales and possibly score yourself a discount.

Finally, of course, you’ll have to register and pay for the exam. Microsoft frequently rolls out a Second Shot program, which allows a free exam retake in case you don’t pass the first time. It’s worth checking their Special Offers page on a regular basis while you’re still in learning mode. And as of this writing, I see you can download a free e-book by Mitch Tulloch, Introducing Windows Server 2012 RTM Edition (PDF, Mobi, EPub).

That’s it. Buy the above things at the right times as described below, and work with them as they were designed to be used, and you can pass the difficult 70-410 with confidence.

What to Do (and when to do it)

To get started, buy Craig’s book and lab manual. And if you don’t have access to the computing power you’ll need, buy them with the online lab space. And buy one of the Server 2012 tomes.

Next, spend about a hundred hours reading Craig’s book cover to cover, doing the labs as you go. (If you didn’t purchase the edition with online labs, refer to the free Microsoft Virtual Academy and TechNet video training.) During this lab/research phase, you should supplement your reading with TechNet’s Server 2012 collection and by skimming the related sections in your tome.

There are also quite a few excellent resources on the web. Microsoft’s TechNet Library should live in your bookmarks bar. (See )

When you’ve finished the research/lab phase, it’ll be time to buy the Transcender 70-410 test engine and drill with the flash cards and the mock exams. Your goal in this phase is to score in the mid-80 percentages each day for the entire week leading up to your exam. Remember, to be eligible for Transcender’s Pass Guarantee, you’ll need to take your exam within six months of the purchase date. (Also remember that if you buy the Exam Voucher with your test engine, that cost is not covered by the guarantee.)

In my next post I’ll describe how you can create a personalized Server 2012 study guide while doing your labs, research, flash cards, and mock exams. I’ll also focus in on questions from each of the 70-410 objective areas.

If you’ve got comments, I’d like to hear them.

Thanks in advance and good luck.

–Scott Winger

The Case Study gets its groove back

September 2, 2011 at 8:37 am | Posted in Microsoft, Study hints | 10 Comments
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Vinyl records are making a comeback. Jelly shoes and skinny jeans are showing up in the fashion stores. Case studies are starting to show up in more and more Microsoft exams. What does it all mean, and more importantly, what should you do about it?

Microsoft introduced the case study in their Windows 2000 Server exams. For the past few years we saw a shift toward exams that relied heavily on multiple-choice questions with some interactive items thrown in for interest. In the past few months, though, both you (test candidates) and we (practice test providers) are finding these extended scenario items in certification exams. Case studies were once  isolated to the Microsoft Windows Server exams, but they are now moving to the developer exams. What’s next – SharePoint, SQL Server, Exchange, Hyper-V?

If you haven’t taken a Microsoft exam with a case study before, let me back up and explain what I mean; better yet, take a look at Troy’s overview of testing models in IT exams. What we call a case study is also referred to as a “testlet,” but is not the same as performance-based testing or a simulation. The case study is actually a good way to assess one’s knowledge of a topic.  First, it presents an extended scenario. Typically there will be a lot of background detail – including stuff that isn’t relevant to your answers. It may include supporting graphics, like an Active Directory network diagram. Then there’s a consecutive series of  brief multiple choice questions based on different parts of that scenario.

The case study items that we build into our Transcender practice test products are presented very much like the ones you’ll see on test day. The scenario is divided into several sections and gives relevant (and not so relevant) information about a company. Each section has one or more headings that describe the corresponding paragraph(s). You can view the different paragraphs by clicking on each heading in the left pane. For example, the Overview button in the left pane may have two paragraphs underneath it. One paragraph describes the Background and another describes the Locations. If you click Existing Infrastructure, it will show text describing the company’s network infrastructure. In the case study, you will learn about the needs, existing network, and mechanical or business restrictions.

Multiple choice questions in a case study format differ a little from the multiple choice questions in a traditional Microsoft exam. For example, a typical question in a case study exam may be as short as this one:

How many servers will you need to deploy in the Atlanta site for the company?

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4

There is really no way to know the answer unless you read the case study. (Fortunately the format allows you to toggle back and forth between the question and the scenario.) Memorizing the data to answer a question is not enough here. You will have to synthesize all the information, deduce the best option from a series of interlocking conditions (such as the server hardware available, the budget for new equipment, geographic limitations, or security considerations) and apply it to the scenario.

The number of questions in a case study can vary. I have seen as many as 12 and as few as 3 questions on a given case study over the years.  Obviously the more questions on the case study, the longer it will take to complete the case study. The combination of the multiple choice questions and the information in the case study help simulate what an actual test taker may face in his or her job.

Several of my students tell me that they are not fans of a case study exam.  You really need to be able to read and comprehend quickly.  In my time in the classroom I have discovered that not everybody can read quickly, and a lot of people struggled on case study exams even though they knew the material itself well. The case study scenarios tend to be long and contain lots of details. While some of us may be thrown off our game by the fact these items are just different than what we’re expecting, for others, case study exams can pose a more serious issue. If you have a condition that keeps you from being able to read and comprehend lengthy blocks of text, be sure to check with your test center regarding accommodations in advance. There are often options for you, so best to be prepared and don’t get caught off guard on test day.

The best way to prepare is of course know the material, but also to practice with the case study item format. You can master the material by checking with the Skills Measured tab on the Microsoft prep guide of the exam you are taking. If I wanted to find the prep guide for the 70-668 SharePoint exam, I would type the following at the search engine prompt:  “Prep guide 70-668”. You should see a link to the Microsoft Prep Guide. Depending on which exam you are taking, you should study the “best practices” for whatever discipline that you are testing on. Microsoft typically builds the case studies around best practices, because these are supposed to mimic real-world situations where you have to juggle multiple factors.

Remember, there can be more than one case study on your exam. You cannot spend all day on one case study. Depending on the exam, each case study may be individually timed, or you may have a specific time to complete multiple case studies. You will be informed at the start of each section how much time you have been allotted, and how many questions there will be in the section. Watch the clock; you do not want to be panicking during a test.  As a lifeguard once told me, drowning victims are dangerous to rescue because they flail around wildly. Do not drown during a case study exam! Watch your time.

You should be familiar with the case study format before you sit for the exam. If a Microsoft exam is a case study exam, Transcender will offer a practice exam with a similar case study format and a ton of questions. Yes, it is a shameless plug, but you cannot argue with a “Led Zeppelin value” at a “Def Leppard” price.  Click on the link to see a mockup of those code case study items I mentioned earlier.

Face it, folks, the case study is back and vinyl records are now cool again. Seriously, you have to listen to vinyl. It soooo rocks. Case studies are going to be around for a while. They are not going to fade out again like jelly shoes.

Until next time,

–George Monsalvatge

Oracle exam strategies

January 27, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Posted in Certification Paths, Oracle, Study hints, Transcender news | 6 Comments
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There have been a number of posts on our Transcender blog that address the issue of how to prepare for a certification exam.  Recommendations have included various study techniques, training classes, and certification prep tests.   All good stuff! With this post, however, I’d like to speak specifically to the strategies you should employ when you’re actually taking the certification exam. 

Disclaimer: My experience comes from the Oracle certification exams, where I have taken approximately 10-12 certification exams and fortunately (or maybe just due to dumb luck) have passed them all thus far. So apply in other areas with caution.

Here are the approaches I recommend. You’ll notice that some of these suggestions apply to all tests, but again, I’m coming from the Oracle test taking experience specifically:

  • Try to schedule your test in the morning.   Most people will have an advantage if they take an exam when they are fresh and ready to go rather than trying to take the test after the stress of a long day at work.
  • Be sure to eat a good breakfast before your exam and don’t forget to grab your picture ID before leaving the house.
  • Read the question carefully.  Break it into pieces if it’s a long question.  Make sure you understand what the question is asking BEFORE you start to formulate an answer in your head. 
  • Answer the easy questions first.  (Please note, this is Oracle-exam specific as not all certification exams allow you to move forward & back between questions.) Feel free to skip around looking for the “low hanging fruit” .  I don’t believe Oracle advertises this, but before you can submit your exam it displays a very nice matrix which makes it obvious which questions haven’t been answered.   That way if you jumped around you can be absolutely sure that you didn’t forget to answer some questions
  • Determine the correct answer (if possible) before looking at the alternatives. 
  • If you aren’t sure of the answer, work with the various alternatives.  You are now going to have to make an educated best guess.  Here are some strategies:
    • Delete alternative choices which you know are wrong
    • Often you run into questions with double negatives.  For example, consider a true/false question which says “It is wrong to say that the Oracle DBA cannot determine a user’s password”.   The double negatives cancel each other out, and the question can be transformed into “It’s true to say the Oracle DBA can determine a user’s password”, or just “The Oracle DBA can determine a user’s password”.  Determining the truth value of the last statement is a lot simpler than working with the original statement that contained the double negative.
    • If there is no penalty for wrong answers, it always makes sense to make your best guess.  In the Oracle certification exams, your score is determined by the number of correct answers, so make sure you have an answer for every question on the test.  Sometimes guessing correctly on say 2 of the 5 questions which you totally don’t understand can mean the difference between passing and failing.
    • If you have two alternatives that are just the direct opposite of each other, it is likely that one of them is right.  For example, “the DBA can start up the database using SQL*Plus” and “the DBA cannot start up the database using SQL*Plus” in most cases implies that one of these statements is true.
    • Always be aware of the number of questions you answered thus far as a percent of the total questions, and how that compares to the number of minutes that have elapsed as a percent of the total minutes allowed for the test.  For example, if you have answered 15 questions so far and there is a total of 60 questions, you’ve answered 15/60 or 25% of the questions.  That means you should have consumed about 25% of the total time allotted for the test.  If the test is 2 hours (120 minutes), you should be 25% through the time, or 25% of 120 minutes, or 30 minutes.  If more than 30 minutes have gone by, you’re not on schedule to answer all the questions and you need to accelerate the pace.

Oracle certification exams typically contain between 60 and 90 questions. You should allow between 90 minutes-2 hours to complete, and aim for a passing score between 60% and 80%, depending on the test.  This is a ballpark, average scenario, but remember Oracle reserves the right to change this at any time so don’t hurt the messenger! When a new test is released and Oracle deems it more difficult than the previous version they may adjust the passing grade to a lower value than the passing grade of the previous version of that exam. 

I hope that these strategies will help you on exam day.  The best strategy is always to be prepared for the exam.  That means reading reference materials, using the software to confirm your understanding of the reading, and taking practice exams to test your readiness for the real thing.  Good luck to all with your career goals and however Oracle certification may be a part of that. 

Give me a holler if you have any Oracle exam day questions!
~ Bob

Troy’s checklist for preparing for the CCNA: Objective 8

July 31, 2009 at 2:09 pm | Posted in Cisco | 2 Comments
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Thanks for returning for the final installment of my review checklist for the CCNA exam. In this session we will cover the topics included in Objective 8: Implement and Verify WAN links.  Let’s get started!

You should be able to describe the differences between the categories of data transfer between physical locations. These include:

  • Cell switching – Cell switching is a WAN switching technology that is used by ATM. ATM is an International Telecommunication Union-Telecommunications (ITU-T) standard for the transmission of data, voice, or video traffic. It uses a fixed size frame of 53 bytes, known as cells. Out of these 53 bytes, the initial five bytes are header information and the rest of the 48 bytes are the payload.
  • Packet switching – Packet switching is popularly used for data transfer, as data is not delay-sensitive like voice traffic is, and it does not require real-time transfer from a sender to a receiver. With packet switching, the data is broken into labeled packets and transmitted using packet-switching networks.
  • Circuit switching – Circuit switching dynamically establishes a virtual connection between a source and destination. The virtual connection cannot be used by other callers unless the circuit is released. Circuit switching is the most common method used by the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) to make phone calls. A dedicated circuit is temporarily established for the duration of call between caller and receiver. Once the caller or receiver hangs up the phone, the circuit is released and is available for other users.

You should how to configure a serial link for a WAN connection. Make sure that you know how to use these commands: Continue Reading Troy’s checklist for preparing for the CCNA: Objective 8…

Troy’s checklist for preparing for the CCNA: Objective 7

July 21, 2009 at 3:50 pm | Posted in Cisco | 2 Comments
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I am just back from spending a week teaching security to our nation’s finest at an Air Force base in central Georgia, so I am all ready to dive into this week’s security-related objective for the CCNA exam. This week’s topic is Implement, verify, and troubleshoot NAT and ACLs in a medium-sized Enterprise branch office network.

(Here’s the previous coverage of Objective 1, Objective 2, Objective 3, Objective 4 Part 1, Objective 4 Part II, Objective 5, and Objective 6. The full list of CCNA objectives is at

To begin with, let’s make sure everyone knows what these two concepts are all about. Network Address Translation (NAT) is a service that can run on a server or on a router that converts private IP addresses to public IP addresses. This provides two advantages:

  • It conserves address space on the Internet and allows an enterprise to use private IP addresses inside the network, instead of having to register public IP addresses for all computers that need Internet access.
  • It ‘hides’ the real IP addresses of the internal computers , which makes the first step in the hacking process (discovery) more difficult.

Be able to identify the types of NAT:

  • Static NAT – uses a one to one mapping from public to private. Doesn’t save any IP addresses, but does provide the security of hiding the private addresses.
  • Dynamic – uses a pool of public addresses and dynamically uses the pool to create mappings. Same as static NAT, except that the address mappings keep changing.
  • NAT overload – describes any situation where there are fewer public addresses than private addresses. In this case, the same public address(s) is used over and over and the NAT device identifies each computer by the port number it uses to connect to the router using port address translation (or PAT).

Be able to identify the most appropriate router in a diagram on which to configure NAT. This will usually be the last router before connecting to the Internet.

Understand which interface on the router to apply the following commands:

  • ip nat inside – should be applied on the interface connected to the LAN
  • ip nat outside – should be applied on the interface connected to the Internet

NOTE – You must be able to perform a complete NAT configuration, up to and including a static mapping and NAT overload. Don’t take the exam if you can’t do that!

Continue Reading Troy’s checklist for preparing for the CCNA: Objective 7…

Troy’s checklist for preparing for the CCNA: Objective 6

July 17, 2009 at 7:57 am | Posted in Cisco | Leave a comment
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This week we cover Objective 6 of 640-802, Identify Security threats to a network and describe general methods to mitigate those threats. This objective, while a small part of the exam, is very important in the real world. First you should be familiar with all types of attacks that a network can experience, and second, you should know the security features or approaches that can mitigate theses attacks.

Attack Defense
DoS (Denial of Service) – floods the target system with unwanted requests, causing the loss of service to users. Stateful packet filtering is the most common defense against a DoS attack.
DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) – occurs when multiple systems are used to flood the network and tax the resources of the target system. Various intrusion detection systems, utilizing stateful packet filtering, can protect against DDoS attacks.
Spoofing – also known as masquerading, is a popular trick in which an attacker intercepts a network packet, replaces the source address of the packets header with the address of the authorized host, and reinserts fake information which is sent to the receiver. This type of attack involves modifying packet contents. Message Authentication Code (MAC) can prevent this type of attack and ensure data integrity by ensuring that no data has changed. MAC also protects against frequency analysis, sequence manipulation, and ciphertext-only attacks (more concepts to be familiar with).
SYN floods – repeatedly bombards the target with spoofed IP packets and causes it to either freeze or crash. A SYN flood attack is a type of D0S  attack that exploits the buffers of a device that accept incoming connections and therefore cannot be prevented by MAC. Common defenses against a SYN flood attack include filtering, reducing the SYN-RECEIVED timer, and implementing SYN cache or SYN cookies.

The above answers are general in nature. You also should know the specific Cisco feature that can be used to mitigate these attacks, such as: Continue Reading Troy’s checklist for preparing for the CCNA: Objective 6…

Troy’s checklist for preparing for the CCNA: Objective 5

July 6, 2009 at 4:36 pm | Posted in Cisco | 1 Comment
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Hello, intrepid CCNA seekers. I salute your persistence if you’ve stuck with me this far! This week we venture into the wild and woolly world of wireless. Specifically we cover the following: Objective 5 of 640-802, Explain and select the appropriate administrative tasks required for a WLAN. It’s a short and sweet objective, especially compared with the whopper that was Objective 4.

(Here’s the previous coverage of Objective 1, Objective 2, Objective 3, Objective 4 Part 1, and Objective 4 Part II. The full list of CCNA objectives is at

First you should know all of the major standard creating and regulatory bodies that influence 802.11 (WLAN) networking:

  • Wi-Fi Alliance (no, they have nothing to do with your old record player, that’s Hi-Fi) – The Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) Alliance is an organization formed to provide interoperability between different WLAN vendors.
  • IEEE – the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is a non-profit worldwide organization that creates standards for various industries, including information technology (IT) and telecommunications.  802.11 wireless networking standards are defined by the IEEE.
  • FCC – the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is a U.S. government agency that regulates communication standards in the areas of wire, television, cable, and satellite communications. It also regulates the use of radio frequencies (RF) and power of transmitters.

Know all of the following terms and how the components make up a wireless network:

  • Ad Hoc network
  • Infrastructure network
  • SSID

Also, know how to create an ESS. (If you put the same SSID on each access point, they will all be in the same ESS while each maintains its own BSS.) If you need some background, here’s a good basic article from Cisco Press: Wireless LANs: Extending the Reach of a LAN

Before I continue, here’s a joke.

Q. What are the three most important things to understand about wireless networking?

A. Security, security, security, security, and security.

Seriously, folks, there is a lot of wireless security to know. If you only have room in your memory for a few key facts, then here’s where to focus. It might help to generate a timeline of each security technology and make a note of 1. what it features, 2. what it replaced or supplemented, and 3. where it’s currently implemented, if at all.

  • Know the common wireless standards: 802.11, 802.11g, and 802.11b.
  • Be familiar with the components of WEP, WPA, and WPA-2, including the differences between these technologies.
  • WPA-2 operates in two modes: Enterprise and Personal. Know what encryption is used in each mode. In Enterprise it uses AES/CCMP. In Personal it uses a shared key.
  • WPA (the older, less powerful technology) uses MIC/TKIP for encryption.
  • WEP  uses static shared secrets and is the weakest security listed here.
  • IEEE 802.11i is an amendment to the 802.11 standard that is meant to address the weaknesses of WEP. WPA2 is an implementation of 802.11i.
  • LEAP is a form of EAP that uses passwords and a RADIUS server. It can also dynamically change the WEP keys, if you are also using WEP.
  • Be familiar with security concepts like MAC address filters, port-based access control, and wireless intrusion detection and prevention.
  • Understand what is meant by wireless security terms like sniffing and war driving.

That’s pretty much it! Objective 5 is not a major part of the exam, so you can focus your study on these topics for good coverage.

Troy’s checklist for preparing for the CCNA: Objective 4 – part 2

June 25, 2009 at 4:03 pm | Posted in Cisco | Leave a comment
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Welcome to Part 2 of Objective 4: Configure, verify, and troubleshoot basic router operation and routing on Cisco routers. Don’t forget Objective 4 – Part 1.

Be able to compare and contrast the capabilities and idiosyncrasies of common routing protocols, especially:

•    RIPv1 and RIPv2
•    OSPF
•    EIGRP

You should know details like:

•    The metrics and routing algorithm that each protocol uses
•    Which protocols are classless and which are classful
•    How to enable each protocol globally and then how to enable each protocol on an interface
•    Each protocol’s default administrative distance

For example, how does OSPF select the designated router on a segment? On a related note, what determines the OSPF router ID? Can you interpret the show ip ospf neighbor command output?

Quick tutorial. Here’s how to enable OSPF and assign the router to an area:

Router(config)#router ospf 1
Router(config-router)#network area 0 (yes, you use wildcard mask here)

Here’s how to enable EIGRP globally and enable it on an interface:

router(config) # router eigrp [autonomous-system]
router (config-router) # network x.x.x.x
router (config-router) # network y.y.y.y

Know how to set up a hyperterminal connection to a router or a switch, and the required settings for the serial connection it uses. Hint: Continue Reading Troy’s checklist for preparing for the CCNA: Objective 4 – part 2…

Troy’s checklist for preparing for the CCNA: Objective 4 – part 1

June 19, 2009 at 11:06 am | Posted in Cisco | Leave a comment
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Welcome to to this week’s exciting double feature. Today we’ll dive into what you need to know in Objective 4: Configure, verify, and troubleshoot basic router operation and routing on Cisco routers. There’s so much material here that I’ve broken it up into two posts. Get off the Internet and let’s get started!

(Here’s the previous coverage of Objective 1, Objective 2 and Objective 3. The full list of CCNA objectives is at

For Objective 4, you need to know how routers handle and alter the packets they receive. Specifically, you should understand which addresses in the packet are changed by the router (MAC addresses), and which remain the same in the routing process (source and destination IP addresses).

You should be able to read a routing table and pull information out, such as:

  • The meaning of the codes next to each entry (C, R, S, I, etc). These codes indicate the method by which the route was learned. When you run the command on a router, there is a legend (a key) at the beginning that explains the codes, but that legend may be truncated from the output shown on the exam (those sneaky rascals!)
  • The meaning of all that stuff in brackets next to each route, i.e. [160/5]. Answer: the left side of the slash is the administrative distance (AD) and the right side is the route metric.

For a more in-depth review, study the Cisco command reference for show ip route and related commands.

You should know what a default route is and how to configure one. You also know when it is appropriate to use them (on edge routers or routers with only one connection to the rest of the network, and thus only one route to anything). You should also know that a default route’s main benefit is to reduce the number of routes in the routing table.

You should be familiar with the concept of route redistribution, its purpose, and how it is configured. You should also know how to alter the default behavior of route redistribution by using distribution lists. Make sure that you understand to use an access list to control the redistribution, but apply the list as a distribute list under the configuration of the routing protocol as shown below (taken from show run). In this example, we have instructed the router to only redistribute the network and and deny everything else:

access-list 10 permit
access-list 10 permit
access-list 10 deny
router eigrp 1
distribute-list 10 in

You should understand basic operation of the internals of the router. Specifically, you should know what the following terms and concepts mean, how they all work together, and what is stored in each location:

• Running configuration
• Startup configuration

You should be familiar with possible ports you might find on a router (Serial, BRI, FastEthernet, etc.), and what type of cable is required to connect various devices (straight-through, crossover, rollover/console). (This is also covered in Objective 2.)

Understand how the following mechanisms work:

• Split horizon
• Poison reverse
• Triggered updates
• Count to infinity
• Gateway of last resort

Know how to configure a router from start to finish. This topic is an excellent one to practice in real life. If you don’t have the gear to practice with, get a lab simulator – I personally recommend the Kaplan IT CCNA simulator.

Here are some good examples of basic router configurations:

• Set a Telnet password
• Set an encrypted password
• Configure an IP address on an interface and enable the interface
• Enable a routing protocol on an interface

Very Important: Know your command prompts and the commands for getting in and out of the various prompt levels. Know what commands and functions can be performed at the various prompts. Always check the command AND the prompt in output. Careless errors can cost you.

Practice, practice, practice!!!  You will not have time to figure out how to do these operations on the exam; you only have time to do them. On the exam you will have about 1 to 2 minutes per question. That goes quick if you don’t quite know what you’re doing.

~~Continued in Part 2~~

Troy’s checklist for preparing for the CCNA: Objective 3

June 11, 2009 at 11:08 am | Posted in Cisco | Leave a comment
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Welcome back to Week Three of my CCNA study checklist! This week we’ll cover the third objective, which is Implementing an IP addressing scheme and IP Services to meet network requirements in a medium-size Enterprise branch office network (whew, that’s a mouthful; who makes this stuff up?).

(In my previous post here, I took a broad look at the CCNA objectives. In this post, I covered Objective 1. Here’s Objective 2. The full list of CCNA objectives are posted on the Cisco website here:

OK, let’s get started.

First you should understand the difference between public and private IP addresses. This includes knowing:

  • What the three ranges of private IP addresses are
  • • –
    • –
    • –

  • The purpose and benefits of private IP addresses
  • • Increased security
    • More efficient use of public IP addresses

  • How Network Address Translation (NAT) allows computers with private addresses access to the Internet and how to configure a router to perform NAT. You should understand the terms inside global, outside global, inside local and outside local.

You should feel comfortable using the following commands to configure a NAT router given a set of requirements, including the type of prompt where they are applied:

  • ip nat inside and ip nat outside
  • ip nat pool: you should know how this command can be combined with an access list to determine the local hosts that allowed to use the pool of public addresses. This includes knowing how to use wildcard masks to define the range of addresses allowed to use the pool of addresses. (If you need help with that topic, here’s a link:
  • overload parameter: you should know the purpose of this parameter when combined with ip nat inside

Hint and shameless self promotion: The Kaplan IT CCNA Simulator will teach you how do every aspect of these tasks.

You should understand how DHCP works and what the benefits of DHCP and DNS services are. This includes:

  • Have knowledge of the packets that are used between the DHCP server (or router) and the DHCP client (DHCP discover, DHCP offer, DHCP request, DHCP ack) and the exact order they occur.
  • You should feel comfortable using the following commands to configure a router to perform DHCP given a set of requirements:
  • service dhcp (this enables DHCP; the command is usually not required since it is enabled by default)
    ip dhcp excluded address
    ip dhcp pool name

  • Also know the network command, the dns server command, and the lease command used for the purpose of defining the mask, the DNS server address, and the lease period for the computers that receive addresses from the DHCP router. These are executed after entering ip dhcp pool mode.

You should be able to examine a network diagram labeled with interfaces and IP addressing information and use it to determine IP addressing problems. This includes problems like:

    • Incorrect IP addresses (usually outside of the subnet boundaries)
    • Incorrect subnet masks (which result in the above)
    • Incorrect gateway addresses

Make sure that you approach this problem in a systematic way. If, for example, Host 1 cannot ping Host 2, trace the entire route from Host 1 to Host 2 and determine at each juncture if the two interfaces required to communicate are in the same subnet.  (Example: trace the address of Host 1 and the address of its gateway, the address of Router 1 and the address of Router 2, the address of Router 2 and the address of Host 2, etc.)

Be able to answer question about VLSM and its application to a network. Specifically, be able to:

  • Determine the subnet mask that will yield a certain number of addresses without wasting any addresses. Example: what would be the subnet mask applied to a class C network that would yield at least 50 but not more than 100 addresses? ( hint or /26)
  • Determine if two ip addresses are in the same subnet given their addresses and masks. Example: are these two addresses in the same network: and (Answer: they aren’t.)
  • Determine how many IP addresses are possible given the network ID (or subnet ID as some books call it) and the mask. Example: how many addresses are possible in the network (Hint: 30)

If all of this is Greek to you,  here’s a link to help:

Be able to examine a network diagram for IP addressing problems and spot a situation where the mask is configured in such a way that there are not enough addresses for the computers.

Be able to summarize a given set of subnets and know the commands required to instruct a router to use the summarization in its advertisements. (If you have problems with the concept of route summarization, look for an upcoming blog post next week explaining that topic.)

Understand IP addressing backwards and forwards.

  • Know the various methods for migrating to IPV6 from IPV4 and the methods of using both at the same time.
  • Understand what dual stack and tunneling are and how they operate (protocols, hardware, etc).
  • Be able to identify an IPV6 address when you see it and know the types of IPV6 addresses:
    • Link-local (starts with FE8 to FEB)
    • Site-local (start with FEC to FEF)
  • (The above two categories make up the IPv6 equivalent of private IP addresses.)
    • Global (starts with 2000::/3)
    • Loopback (yes, the equivalent of in IPv4) which is simply :: 1
    • Unspecified (this is the address a computer has until a DHCP server gives it an IPv6 address), which is simply ::

  • Understand how IPV6 addresses are formatted and the rules to shorten them by eliminating zeros.
    If all of this sounds like blah blah blah blah blah blah check this out:

Till next week – Happy Studying!

-Troy McMillan

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