Today, we’re going to be talking about some of the best completely free CCNA resources that will help you nail your CCNA exam.
The first free CCNA resource is, of course, YouTube. This list is in no particular order, but I thought I’d get the most obvious one out of the way first. YouTube can be a really great resource if you know where to look. Although Surprise offers a premium CCNA course (link in the description), this channel also uploads tons of free CCNA content as well. But aside from this channel, some of my favorite YouTubers for CCNA content are as follows:
- Keith Barker: He’s a trainer over at CBT Nuggets but also has a YouTube channel full of great videos from tutorials, quizzes, and live streams.
- Jeremy’s IT Lab: Jeremy’s channel has really exploded recently, and it’s clear to see why. On his channel, you’ll find full-length detailed CCNA videos.
- David Bombal: David is well-known for his courses on Udemy but also for the huge amount of free videos he puts on his YouTube channel. He seems to be moving more into the ethical hacking space at the moment but still has a ton of great content for the CCNA.
- Network Direction: I particularly like the network fundamental videos, including things like cabling, routing, SNMP, and so on.
Those are just a few great channels to get you started. There are loads of great channels out there, and I could make a whole video about recommending the ones to follow, but for now, let’s move on.
2. Cisco Packet Tracer
How could I not mention one of the most valuable CCNA study tools available? If you haven’t heard of it, Cisco Packet Tracer is a network simulation tool that allows you to design, build, and test your own network topologies. It allows you to interact with devices and configure them with the Cisco command line. One of the most valuable features, though, is being able to see the protocols working in a visual simulation mode. This lets you see the protocol messages flowing throughout the network in real-time. Packet Tracer is a great tool and a must when studying for the CCNA. Best of all, it’s absolutely free. If you’re new to Packet Tracer, I have another video showing you everything you need to get started.
Subnetting is a big part of networking and the CCNA exam. You might need to choose an appropriate IP range or interpret a routing table, both of which require a really good understanding of subnetting. Not only do you need to know how to subnet, but you need to be able to do this quickly. Precious exam minutes can be wasted here if you’re not careful. What SubnettingQuestions.com does is generate random quiz questions all about subnetting for you to practice. You may be asked things like how many hosts are available on a given subnet, what is a broadcast address of a subnet, what is the first and last available IP address, and so on. Once you’ve learned how to subnet correctly, I recommend you spend 20 to 30 minutes a day going through these questions, especially on the days leading up to your exam. I promise you will not regret it.
4. Cisco Documentation
Cisco has some great documents that go into detail about particular protocols and technologies. Of course, you would expect them to have write-ups about their own proprietary technologies, but they have some great documents on other protocols as well. Some good examples are their documents on STP, RSTP, OSPF, HSRP, and many, many more. These really helped me a lot, and I still refer back to them today when making these videos. I’ll link to some of my favorites below in the description.
5. RFCs (Request for Comments)
They are just about the most technical documents you’ll likely ever read. RFC documents detail exactly how protocols are designed and how they work. Now, these documents are complicated, crazy long, and not much fun to read. For that reason, most people shy away from them, and that included me when I first started. But if used correctly, RFCs can be an invaluable resource. So how do you use RFCs? Well, you could sit down and read them in their entirety, but you would need to be mad to do that. Instead, the best way I found to use RFCs is to look for specific questions. For example, let’s say some random guy on YouTube makes a video that implies that DHCP offer messages are sent as broadcasts. This is a great time to use RFCs. Simply Google search “RFC for DHCP,” and you should find RFC 2131. You can then either look down the table of content or, what I usually do, is press Ctrl+F and search for a keyword. For this example, let’s try the keyword “broadcast.” After clicking “Next” a few times, we find ourselves at a paragraph that states, “If the broadcast bit is set, then the server will reply with a broadcast message.” So RFCs are crazy long, technical documents, but they are great for answering very specific questions if you’re prepared to look.
By the way, if you did see that video and had the same question, it was just done for simplicity and a focus on the messages themselves rather than how they’re sent, and I admit, in hindsight, I probably should have shown it as a unicast instead.
If you haven’t heard of flashcards or if you haven’t used flashcards before, they’re essentially a study tool that contains questions and answers. The idea is that by quizzing yourself with questions and forcing your brain to recall the information, it helps you remember information a lot more effectively. There are two types of flashcards: old-school paper flashcards with questions written on one side and the answer on the other, and personally, my favorite type is digital flashcards. The benefit of using digital flashcards is that you can practice pretty much anywhere. There are several flashcard apps that you can get. However, the most popular one and the one that I use is called Anki.
Now, Anki is just the flashcard app, but where do you get the flashcards from? Well, while you’re studying through your CCNA content, you can build your own flashcard decks. This is a great option, but it can sometimes get a bit time-consuming. Another option is to import pre-built flashcard decks, and you can get these from a number of places. I’ve actually spent a lot of time putting together a completely free Anki flashcard deck for you to download and use. You can find the link in the description. Flashcards are proven to be an incredible learning tool and when used correctly can be an absolute game-changer.
The last resource on this list and the one that you might easily overlook is communities. Communities are
a great place to meet other learners that are on the same journey as you. You can ask questions, get tips, and most importantly, stay motivated.
I’m going to give you three different communities, each on different platforms. It really comes down to which platform you prefer, and of course, there’s nothing stopping you from joining more than one.
- The Official Cisco Forums: The Cisco Learning Network has a discussion board for several of their certifications, including the CCNA. Here you can interact with other Cisco students on a traditional forum-like platform.
- Reddit CCNA Subreddit: If you’re into Reddit, then there is a fantastic CCNA subreddit with CCNA students and teachers. Here you can exchange tips, tricks, experiences, and also celebrate when you and others pass your exam.
- Discord: If you’re not familiar with Discord, it used to be a place mainly used by gamers. It’s a place you can chat with friends over text, voice, and video. Discord is now a very popular social platform. You join servers for the topics you’re interested in, and you can talk with like-minded people. There are a ton of servers you can join for the CCNA. In fact, most of the YouTube channels I mentioned earlier have a Discord server, and that includes this channel as well. You can join the Surprise Discord server using the link below and start interacting with other students. Of course, I’ll be in there as well. I also recommend joining the Cisco Study Group server. I’ll link to that one below in the description.
So there are my top 7 free resources for studying for the CCNA. This is by no means a full list, and there are tons of great channels and resources out there.
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