Subnetting Learning Stage 3: Accelerating

 In 200-301 V1 CCC No Category on Purpose, CCENT-OLD, Study Tips

Go fast. Faster. Fastest! Sure, you need to be able to do subnetting tasks with speed on the CCNA R&S exams. But you can do some activities when studying that can reduce much of the fear about the need for subnetting speed on the exams. Today’s post breaks down those ideas, which again come from my new subnetting course hosted at Safari.

Quick Links: Earlier Posts on Subnetting Learning Stages:


Stage 3: Accelerating – Self-Evaluation

You reach stage 3 when two facts become true:

  • You have been at stage 2, working to reach the point at which you get 100% correct.
  • You can now get 100% correct for several problem sets of 5-10 problems each.

Of course, none of us are perfect, so you might make an occasional mistake. But when you get 100% correct regularly, it is time to move on to stage 3 – accelerating – and change your study strategy.


Stage 3: Accelerating – Perspectives Vs. the Exam

At stage 3, you should now focus on getting faster. Why? The real CCNA exam has time pressure. To the extent that you can subnet more quickly, you can reduce time pressure on the exam. Simple enough. At this stage, you should focus on speed!

Note that on the exam itself, accuracy should be the primary goal, with speed as a secondary goal. For stage 3, focus on speed, but don’t forget to regain your balance going into exam day. Figure 5 shows the competing perspectives.

Figure 5: Priorities at Stage 3 Vs. Exam Day


Stage 3: Accelerating – Study Advice

At stage 3 (Accelerating), permit yourself to let go and try and go fast. You can even miss a few in your push to go faster. You follow the same rules as with Stage 2, but now:

  • Do not ponder; focus on moving quickly to complete each question.
  • Trust yourself and trust the process.
  • Always set a time goal.
  • Always time your practice to find out your time per problem.

Those last two points focus on the one significant remaining need at stage 3: The need for speed. At stage 3, you lack for speed, but nothing else, so your study should always focus on speed. Here’s how:

  1. Special time improvement activities:
    • Example: The slowest part of mask conversion is the part when you recall the nine possible mask values (decimal) and their binary equivalent. You could do activities that help you recall those numbers immediately.
    • Example: The slowest part of the process to find a subnet ID is to count by a small set of numbers (2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64). You could do practice problems focused on making you faster at that part of the process.
  2. Time:
    • Set a per-problem time goal before starting each and every practice set.
    • Use my time goals from the Safari course, or my books, or choose your own.
    • Keep track of your time goals in whatever tool you use to take notes and watch your progress.
  3. Exam-like Approach
    • Clear your desk (as in stage 2)
    • If you plan to write notes before the exam timer starts (e.g., writing the powers of 2 on your note page), practice that every time you start a new practice session.
  4. Practice Sets:
    • Do a practice problem set of 5-to-10 problems.
    • Check answers only after finishing the set.
    • If you miss a few, that’s ok – goal is to go fast
    • If you miss more than a few – consider going back to stage 2, slow down for a bit

Do you need 120 seconds to take an address + mask and find the range of addresses in the subnet? You should be faster than that come exam day, and stage 3 helps you get faster.


Self-Evaluation on Subnetting Stages

Stages 1, 2, 3? Check. Wendell’s six subnetting branches? Check. Coming to class to improve your subnetting? Check.

At what stage are you? You can do some quick self-evaluation with this table, which can be useful. Tell me where you are here in the blog or tweet me – @WendellOdom.

Subnetting Processes Described Shortname At What Stage are You Today?
Classful Networks: Find Key Facts * Network Facts
Converting Subnet Mask Formats * Convert Masks
From Address/Mask, Find Subnet ID, Broadcast Address, and Address Range Subnet Facts
Interpret Design Based on Mask to Predict # Subnets, # Hosts/Subnet Interpret Mask
Based on Design Criteria, Choose 1 Mask Choose Mask
For Network w/ 1 Mask, Find All Subnet IDs Find Subnets



Subnetting Learning Stage 2: Perfecting
Happy 20th Anniversary CCNA!
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