If you are preparing for your CCNA certification then you might have been in the dilemma which path you should take for becoming a Cisco CCNA certified professional. As we know, Cisco is offering two “routes” for obtaining a CCNA.
NOTE: As of 2020, there are new Cisco certifications as explained here.
The “quick route” requires you to take just a single composite exam (640-802 CCNA) which covers topics from Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices parts 1 and 2 (ICND1 and ICND2) courses. The 640-802 exam is 90 minutes duration with 50 to 60 questions.
The second route to CCNA requires candidates to take two exams:
- 640-822 ICND1 (90 minutes duration with 50 to 60 questions)
- 640-816 ICND2 (75 minutes duration with 45 to 55 questions)
EDIT: Currently (as of Sept.2015) the two options for CCNA exams are:
- composite exam CCNA 200-120
- two exams ICND1 (100-101) and ICND2 (200-101)
The cost of the two certification paths is the same. That is, the cost of taking the single composite exam (640-802) is the same as taking the two-exam option. Do not bother about the cost though because the salary of CCNA professionals has gone up recently according to studies.
So, which path is the best? This really depends on each individual candidate. In my opinion, people that are already working in the networking field and have some experience with routers, switches, cabling etc, its better to take the single-exam path to avoid the hassle and stress of the two-exam option.
On the other hand, people that are just starting now in networking are better off to go for the two-exam option. This option has also the advantage of giving you an extra certification, since you will get the CCENT (Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician) certification by passing the 640-822 ICND1 exam.