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How Can I Possibly Learn Everything in the New ICND2?

Anthony Sequeira breaks down the ICND2 exam content, letter for letter, with a focus on scope that you should know.
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If you have read some of my previous articles, you will know that I have provided many tips when it comes to passing the new (version 2) ICND1 and ICND2 exams.

It is a huge challenge for students to stop studying a subject! I answer more questions about this every month at the Cisco Learning Network than any other category. For example, what should I know about IPv6? What should I know about security? What should I know about OSPF? These questions and many more like them are certainly valid and should be asked, because with many of these topics, you could fill an entire five-day course, or many volumes of a text series.

So let’s get started. Let me guide you through the topics you must master for the ICND2 exam and, most importantly, the required scope for those topics. Notice I will start with the official exam objective word for word, then move into the explanation and scope of that topic. Please read this entire document carefully as it points out some issues with the current version of the blueprint published in March 2013. Also, you will notice some of the topics are so straightforward that there is no commentary necessary, like many of those in the Troubleshooting section.

By the way, this article should be considered a nice guide to accompany your study tracker. You are planning to make a study tracker for this exam, right?

LAN Switching Technologies

Topic 1 - Identify Enhanced Switching Technologies

In this section, you need to be able to describe just about everything there is to know about VLANs. You also need to be able to configure and troubleshooting VLANs. How is VLAN traffic moved from Cisco device to Cisco device? Trunk links do this, and once again, you need to be able to describe, configure, and troubleshoot them. This includes the Dynamic Trunk Protocol (DTP), a Cisco invention designed to assist with the administrative work of trunk formation.

Topic 2 - Configure and Verify PVSTP Operation

In this topic, you need to master the theory and operation behind STP, PVSTP+, Rapid PVSTP+, PortFast, and BPDUGuard. For configuration, be sure you are ready for a basic Rapid PVSTP+ configuration. Also, be able to verify the configuration. What about troubleshooting? Well yes, but that falls under a later section. Another topic that falls in this section is EtherChannel. What? This is not a STP technology. I know, I know, but it does relate to spanning tree, and we will put it here. Know what an EtherChannel is, know how to configure it, and of course, troubleshoot it.

IP Routing Technologies

Topic 3 - Describe the Boot Process of Cisco IOS Routers

This topic includes your knowledge of the internal router components, stages of the boot process, the locating and loading of IOS software and configurations, and password recovery.

Topic 4 - Configure and Verify Operation Status of a Serial Interface

This is one of those topics that speak for itself. Please note that it also includes troubleshooting problems with such an interface.

Topic 5 - Manage Cisco IOS Files

How do you update a Cisco router IOS image? How do you back up these images and configuration files? How would restore? You need to demonstrate that you can do all of this.

Topic 6 - Differentiate Methods of Routing and Routing Protocols

In this topic, you need to be able to explain static routing versus dynamic routing. You should also understand the various types of dynamic routing protocols—for example, interior versus exterior, and distance vector versus link state.

Topic 7 - Configure and Verify OSPF (Single-Area)

Notice that Cisco makes it clear that we are dealing with single-area OSPF only. But be careful. This is a misprint in the current version of the blueprint. You will need to master the data structures used in OSPF, the OSPF metric, the router-ID concept, OSPF neighbor formation, and the configuration and verification of multi-area OSPF. You will not be responsible for knowledge of advanced OSPF topics, however, like the configuration of special area types.

Topic 8 - Configure and Verify EIGRP (Single AS)

With EIGRP, you must be able to configure and verify a basic single AS environment. You must also know its operation characteristics including its metric, its best path selection algorithm, and its unique load balancing capabilities. 

IP Services

Topic 9 - Recognize High availability (FHRP)

Here you are responsible for the big three: HSRP, VRRP, and GLBP. You need to be able to describe exactly how these protocols provide first hop redundancy. Do not be too concerned with configuration of each one, but understand that you will need to be able to verify each in order to determine the active path. You should note that this is one of the huge new additions to ICND2. The fact that it was not included in other versions of the course and exam were a point of frequent criticism.

Topic 10 - Configure and Verify Syslog

This topic and the next are another area where Cisco “patched a leak” in ICND2. It is silly not to have students know a bit about these important network management topics. Notice that the student needs to be well-versed in both configuration and verification here.

Topic 11 - Describe SNMP v2 and v3

Do not let this topic fool you; you are also responsible for a basic configuration of both version 2 and version 3 here.


Topic 12 - Identify and correct common network problems

What are common network problems? Well, in the scope of ICND1, this really has to do with interfaces and their configuration.

Topic 13 - Utilize NetFlow Data

Hmmm, here another network management protocol makes its way to the blueprint. I think this topic was meant for an earlier section but slipped in here. Know about NetFlow and its basic configuration. A bit later on in this section, you troubleshoot it.

Topic 14 - Troubleshoot and Resolve Spanning Tree Operation Issues

Topic 15 - Troubleshoot and Resolve Routing Issues

Topic 16 - Troubleshoot and Resolve OSPF Problems

Topic 17 - Troubleshoot and Resolve EIGRP problems

Topic 18 - Troubleshoot and Resolve interVLAN Routing Problems

Topic 19 - Troubleshoot and Resolve WAN Implementation Issues

Topic 20 - Monitor NetFlow Statistics

This should certainly be a matter of troubleshooting NetFlow moreso than just monitoring. We do the monitoring in the earlier topic.

Topic 21 - Troubleshoot EtherChannel Problems

WAN Technologies

Topic 22 - Identify different WAN Technologies

This includes such categories as circuit-switched, packet-switched, cell-switched, and broadband.

Topic 23 - Configure and Verify a Basic WAN Serial Connection

Notice this is a repeat of an earlier topic that had you configure a basic serial interface.

Topic 24 - Configure and Verify a PPP Connection Between Cisco Routers

You should also be sure to know how to configure and verify a CHAP authenticated PPP connection.

Topic 25 - Configure and Verify Frame Relay on Cisco Routers

Many were surprised to see Frame Relay still in the CCNA exam and course revisions. While it is still present and you should know its basic terminology, the configuration and verification is still minimal. Keep in mind that this topic is being deemphasized in the course and the exam. Worry about this last on your list of topics.

Topic 26 - Implement and Troubleshoot PPPoE

Final Thoughts

I hope you have enjoyed this detailed tour of the new and improved ICND2. You should now have an excellent idea of what you need to study, and how deeply to go in each area. Enjoy your studies!

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