Sim Options for the New Exams

 In 200-301 V1 CCC No Category on Purpose, News

Starting #CCNA prep today? Go for the new exams. But what can you use today, just after announcement, for self-study? Well, the new books are out, in eBook form from day 1. The print books will be out from late April to mid-May, so the book options are pretty easy to figure out. However, due to some timing issues with the Pearson Network Simulator, an updated Sim won’t be out until (planned) late in 2013. This post walks through some of the particulars of your Simulator options from today, up until late in 2013 when the new versions of the Sim products are available.

Print Book Dates

As a quick aside… the print books are at the printer. They will be available first directly from the publisher, then from US-based retailers, and then from international retailers. The place you buy the book impacts when you get the book when it first comes out, just due to how the books get shipped, from the printer, to the publisher’s warehouses, and then to the various retailers.

Figure 1: Cover for the Two-Book CCNA Library

To see the very earliest date by which you can get the books from the publisher, check the publisher’s web site. You can surf for the books, or, you can go to these links, and get to my web site’s page for each book.  As of the date I posted this blog post, those dates range from April 25th to May 16th, which match up to the info I get directly from the publisher.

ICND1 100-101 Cert Guide – (current plan) in stock at publisher April 25th

ICND2 200-101 Cert Guide – (current plan) in stock at publisher May 9th

CCNA Library  – (current plan) in stock at publisher May 16th

ICND1 Sim Lite and ICND2 Sim Lite

Just like the previous editions of the books, the new editions come with a version of the Simulator called a “Lite” version. The Lite versions are free with the books. Each Sim Lite product (one for ICND1, and another for ICND2) supports a small number of labs compared with the full product.

Why does the publisher give away the Sim Lite products? It’s good for you in that you get to do some labs. You get to try the Sim software before buying it. And it’s obviously good for the publisher, because it’s a marketing tool to get folks to buy the full version of the Sim product.

Summarizing the key points about the Sim Lite products that ship with the new ICND1 and new ICND2 books:

  • The “ICND1 Sim Lite” that comes with the ICND1 100-101 book is a different product than the “ICND2 Sim Lite” that comes with the ICND2 book.
  • The main difference: they support different lab exercises. So if you buy both books, take advantage of both!
  • Both use a new user interface compared to the original Simulator product, as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: GUI for the New Simulator as Seen in CCNA Sim Lite

Pearson CCENT and CCNA Network Simulator (Full Products)

Pearson Education created the Pearson Network Simulator about three years ago as a learning product for both CCENT and CCNA (Routing and Switching). It simulates (acts like) the CLI of Cisco routers and switches. For example, you open the product, and start a lab. You can connect to the console of each router, and configure interface IP addresses, a routing protocol, and see the routers learn routes. You can even ping to test whether connectivity works or not.

More importantly, the Sim focuses on teaching you what you need to know for the exams. It shows how to correctly use the CLI, how to use each command, how to create the correct configurations for many of the CCENT and CCNA features, with roughly 300 lab exercises in the current CCNA Sim product. It’s been a phenomenal success. Figure 3 shows the GUI for the existing full Sim product.

Figure 3 – Screen Shot of GUI for Existing CCNA Simulator

Pearson is working on a new version of the CCENT and CCNA Routing and Switch Simulators. As of the day I posted this blog post, the expected publication dates range from September to November 2013. If you are reading this post after the new products are out, great, you can get the new ones, no worries. (Note that any estimated publication date that is 6 months out is indeed an estimate.)

Practical Tips: Using the Existing Sim to Study for the New Exams

For anyone studying for the new exams before the new Sim products are out, you have some options. First, you can use the existing CCNA Simulator to practice about 75% of the topics for the new exam. Frankly, that should be enough to be ready to pass the new exams.

Figure 4: Cover Image of Existing CCNA Sim, as of This Post’s Date

To best use the existing Sim product, Cisco Press has a mapping guide, available from the book page for the books at the web site. Just go to this page at the publisher’s web site, and click on the “downloads” tab. The guide tells you what labs to ignore, and what labs to use with each chapter of the new book.

Publisher Gives Us a Great Upgrade Path to the New Sim

You may be thinking that you want to wait and buy the new Sim. Why? You want to practice all those new features in CCNA: OSPFv3, EIGRPv6, FHRP, and so on. Well, you do not have to wait if you follow the publisher’s rules! The publisher gives you a path from the existing Sim to the new Sim if you follow a listed set of rules.

The great news? You can get started with the existing Sim, and upgrade for free later to the new version of the Sim. The challenge? You have to follow a specific set of rules.

The rules have many steps, and they are defined and implemented by the publisher. So, to keep from confusing the issues, all I will do here (or elsewhere online) is to point you at the publisher’s web page for the rules. Do not ask me questions about the rules. I don’t want to confuse the issue, or frankly, I don’t want anyone telling me I said X about these rules when Y was true. It’s a great deal, but it’s the publisher’s deal, not Wendell’s, so look to the publisher.

Where to find the rules? Look to this web page, and look for the “special offer”.

Real Gear

You can use real gear to prep for the exams as well. One day, I’ll get around to updating the web pages that discuss lab options. For now, note the following:

  • Given how old the old ICND1 640-822, ICND2 640-816, and 640-802 exams are, the router and switch IOS versions have bumped up considerably for the new exams.
  • For example, for the new books, I used a 15.2 Version on the 2901 routers; that’s a 3-version jump compared to the 12.4 mainline IOS I used for the previous editions.
  • However, for 90%+ of the exam topics, old IOS versions work just fine for learning. So, from a practical perspective, you can probably get by just fine using the same router models and same 12.4 or 12.4T IOS versions you were thinking of using before the exams change.

I have not taken the time to work through all the specifics feature-by-feature, as I did in years past on these pages, but I hope to do so over the summer here in the US.

Using the Old Books to Study for the New Exams
The Ins and Outs of #CCENT and #CCNA eBooks
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