If you are reading this after reading all the CCNA ICND1 and ICND2 courses then CONGRATULATIONS! You are one step further from achieving your Cisco CCNA Routing and Switching Certificate. But before that dream comes true, here are some of my (Joseck) personal guidelines and also Cisco’s best exam preparation practices that will enable you to pass your Cisco CCNA Routing and Switching exam in your first attempt.





Cisco professional exams are among the most difficult exams in the IT industry and it is Cisco’s goal to ensure that candidates who pass their exams know the technology really well and can thrive in the real world networking jobs.


That being said, you should never go to the exam room not adequately prepared because you can be sure that you are going to fail. Cisco exams costs between $165 and $325 American Dollars, CCNA R&S costing between $250 and $300 depending on the part of the world you are. Unless you have $300 USD laying around to use and see how the exam looks like and not caring if you will pass or fail, then you should prepare adequately  before sitting for your CCNA Exam.


And this is how you prepare for your CCNA Routing and Switching exam.

                               I.            In your first reading, you should go through the material relatively fast noting the lay of the land. Don’t spend a lot of time on the topics you don’t clearly understand in your first reading, instead use your first reading to get to know what is in the course and pick up the overall information that is talked about in a given lesson.


                             II.            In your second reading, take a notebook and write down main points in each lesson taking time to understand the topics well. This is probably the reading that will take most of your time. Take time to understand the topics well but don’t take a lot of time in one topic for too long. Use your own summary writing skills to summarize each lesson. Also in your second reading start using Cisco Packet Tracer or/and GNS3 for your practicals.


                          III.            In your third and subsequent readings, your reading or going through the ICND1 and ICND2 course work should be relatively fast and the main focus being on the labs and practicals. Labs and practicals helps you understand the concepts and topics better and helps you enter into real world networking jobs with a lot of confidence. In short, by the time you are finishing your third reading of both CCNA ICND1 and ICND2 course work that is already available on our website, you should be ready to sit for your exam. But before you do, read other points below first.


2.    LAB IT UP

The best way to learn any technology and more so Cisco, is to do many labs as possible. The best emulator software to use is GNS3 although you can use Cisco Packet Tracer too to do your practicals.


For those of you who don’t know it yet, earlier in CCNA ICND1 course we showed you how to use both to do your practicals, in case you dint see it, here are the links for each.


For Cisco packet Tracer follow this link. https://www.moigetech.co.ke/index.php/downloads2/download/3-ccna-routing-and-switching/22-how-to-use-cisco-packet-tracer-for-practicals


For GNS3 follow this link. https://www.moigetech.co.ke/index.php/downloads2/download/3-ccna-routing-and-switching/17-how-to-use-gns3-for-practicals


To make the maximum of it all, do/attempt all the labs in both courses (ICND1 and ICND2) and also the lab activities in between the lessons themselves. Also you can be creative and build your own labs depicting different scenarios, this will ensure that you get the concepts really well and gain hands-on skills.



You can create a free MoigeTech Systems Account and start asking questions on our blog. We will do our best to answer all your questions that you may have.


The process is simple, you can either create an account from either the home page as show below by clicking “Create an Account”


Or you can create an account from our blog page as shown below. Click on the Log in drop-down arrow and you will be presented with an option to create a new account.



After you click on “Create an account” you will be taken into the next screen which will ask you a few question as shown below.



After you create an account you will now be able to ask and answer questions freely on our blog site. We assure you that will answer all the questions that relates to the current CCNA Exam or any questions that you may have.



Another important free account that you should create is a www.cisco.com account. When you create this account you will be able to access Cisco’s learning network forums where you will be able to ask any question that you may have.



From there follow the instructions to create your free Cisco Account



After entering all the required information above and confirming your email address, now you will be able to enjoy all the benefits that comes from having this free Cisco account including Cisco’s learning network. To get to Cisco’s certifications page to get the most up-to-date information about CCNA Routing and Switching go to (From Cisco’s Home Page) Training & Events > Training & Certifications. You will come to the following page.



Click on Routing and Switching under CCNA and explore the provided information. 




And now to get to the Cisco’s learning network directly enter the following address in the browser: https://learningnetwork.cisco.com . You will come to the following page.



To get to the exam overview and details about the Cisco CCNA Routing and Switching Exam follow this path: Certifications > Associate > Routing & Switching (CCNA) > CCNA Exam > Exam Overview. You will be come to the following page.




If you may have any question on any given topic you are free to ask and you will get a quick response from the experienced community members who will be happy to answer all your questions. To go/join the CCNA R&S community, follow the path Community > Associate > CCENT/CCNA R&S Study Group. You will come to the following page. Click on a link or button that will ask you if you want to join this group. From there you will be able to post or answer questions from other community members. Feel free to explore this page for your benefit.



After you click on the “Participate Now” Button/Link, you will be taken to the following page where other community members have posted questions. Here, you will also be able to ask your questions.



The truth is, there is no shortcut to success. You must read the material and understand the topics really well for you to not only to pass your exams but thrive as a network engineer in the real world.


What I have given you is just a guideline on what to do to pass your CCNA Routing and Switching exams. Maybe you have your own way of doing and passing exams, please by all means follow and do what works for you.


If you have any question at all, please feel free to ask us anytime. GOOD LUCK AND ALL THE BEST.







Packet Tracer is a powerful network simulator that can be utilized in training for CCNA and CCNP certification exam by allowing students to create networks with an almost unlimited number of devices and to experience troubleshooting without having to buy real Cisco routers or switches.


Packet Tracer is a cross-platform visual simulation tool designed by Cisco Systems that allows users to create network topologies and imitate modern computer networks. The software allows users to simulate the configuration of Cisco routers and switches using a simulated command line interface. Packet Tracer makes use of a drag and drop user interface, allowing users to add and remove simulated network devices as they see fit. The software is mainly focused towards Certified Cisco Network Associate Academy students as an educational tool for helping them learn fundamental CCNA concepts. Students enrolled in a CCNA Academy program can freely download and use the tool free of charge for educational use.


In addition to simulating certain aspects of computer networks, Packet Tracer can also be used for collaboration. As of Packet Tracer 5.0, Packet Tracer supports a multi-user system that enables multiple users to connect multiple topologies together over a computer network. Packet Tracer also allows instructors to create activities that students have to complete. Packet Tracer is often used in educational settings as a learning aid. Cisco Systems claims that Packet Tracer is useful for network experimentation.




Before I forget, I want you to know that Cisco Packet Tracer is one of my favorite simulator when it comes to computer networking studies. I have found it so much helpful and I hope you find it helpful too.


This is a step-by-step process from getting the application file to configuring your first device.


Before we can start our installation you need the application file for Cisco Packet Tracer. Usually the Cisco Packet Tracer is only available for Cisco Networking Academy students but you can get it online.



This is the time I ask you flex your google search muscles and search engine skills and search for Cisco Packet Tracer. It is my recommendation that you search for Cisco PT version 6.1.1 student version, it will serve you well and you will be able to do all your practicals with this application. It is show below.


To begin the installation process, double-click the application above and you will be presented with the following screen.

On the welcome screen, click the Next button to continue.

On the License Agreement screen, choose the option “I accept the agreement” and the press Next to continue.

On the “Select Destination Location” screen, leave it the way it is and press the Next button to continue with the installation.

When you click next in the previous step, you may be presented with the screen above if you had already installed Cisco PT and uninstalled it without removing the installation folder. If it is your first time installing Cisco PT on your machine, then you may not see the screen above. Click on Yes to continue.

On the “Select Additional Tasks”, you may choose all the options or leave it the way it is which I have done here. Click on the Next button to continue.


On the “Ready to Install” screen you are presented with the summary of the options that you have chosen and now all you need to do is click on the Install button to begin the installation, so click on the Install button to begin the installation process.



Now Cisco PT is Installing, give it one or two minute to finish to install and after the installation is complete, you will be presented with the following screen.


Click OK to continue.


Check the Checkbox “Launch Cisco Packet Tracer” (which is the default) and then click on Finish button to finish/complete the installation and then launch Cisco Packet Tracer application.


And there you have it. We have successfully installed Cisco Packet Tracer and now we are ready to see how to use it next.


Now let’s see how to use Cisco PT. First let us familiarize ourselves with the interface.


Even though there is a lot to learn about Cisco Packet Tracer interface and how to use it, there are only a few places that you will be dealing with on a day-to-day basis and they are as follows:

The Main Menu

The Main Menu contains the following:

  1. 1.    File
  2. 2.    Edit
  3. 3.    Options
  4. 4.    View
  5. 5.    Tools
  6. 6.    Extensions
  7. 7.    Help



The one you will be using most of all is the File where you can save and open new projects among other things.

Main Toolbar

It contains more of the most commonly used items in one place such as the New project, Open, Save, Print, Copy, Paste, Undo, Redo, Zoom In, Zoom Out, and others


Logical Toolbar


Scenario Box


PDU List Window



Now to the most important items on Cisco Packet Tracer


Common Toolbar

In This toolbar you will find

  1. 1.    The Select Button
  2. 2.    Move Layout
  3. 3.    Place Note
  4. 4.    Delete
  5. 5.    Inspect
  6. 6.    Draw
  7. 7.    Resize Shape
  8. 8.    Add a Simple PDU
  9. 9.    Add a complex PDU


Devices Option

This is the most important part. It contains the following devices:

  1. 1.    Routers
  2. 2.    Switches
  3. 3.    Hubs
  4. 4.    Wireless Devices
  5. 5.    Connections
  6. 6.    End Devices
  7. 7.    Security
  8. 8.    WAN Emulation
  9. 9.    Custom Made Devices
  10. 10.                       Multiuser Connection


Now, when you click on any of the device in the Device option area, it brings you all the available devices in that category. For example, the Routers option is the one selected by default, now if you watch at the “Specific Device Option” area you will see all kinds of routers supported in this version of Cisco Packet Tracer.



The same case with all other devices. If you want to select a given model of a switch available here, you click on the Switch Icon in the Device option area and then all the models of switches appear in the “Specific Devices option” and then you select the switch that you need.




Once you have started the application, go the File and click on save to save your first new project as shown below



After clicking on the Save button, you are presented with the screen that will ask you into which folder you will save your project and at the same time the name for your project, in the following example I have saved into the folder D:\CISCO PT PROJECTS and I have called the file “My First PT Project”, you can call it whatever you want.


Go to the “Devices Option” area and click on the switch icon, (if you don’t know how the switch icon appears, just move your mouse over the devices and it will show you the name). The on the “Specific Devices Option” area go  and select the 3560-24PS switch by clicking it once and then move to the work space (the wider area) are and click on the work space once and the switch will be posted there. Do this again so that you have two switches on the topology as shown below.


Now let us take some end user devices (PCs), four to be specific and put them in the topology area/work space. Go to the Device Option area and click on “End Devices”. Then go to the “Specific Devices Option” and choose either four laptops for now (these laptops are going to use wired Ethernet connection), you could have also chosen desktop computers but the laptops will do for this first lab as show in the figure below.



Having the hands-on skills is one of the most important if not the most important thing you can do for your networking career. In this document we are going to show you how to use GNS3 to do your LABs/Practicals.

GNS3 is a graphical network simulator that allows you to design complex network topologies. You may run simulations or configure devices ranging from simple workstations to powerful Cisco routers. It is based on Dynamips, Pemu/Qemu and Dynagen.


Why should you use GNS3?


1.       Real-time network simulation for pre-deployment testing without the need for network hardware. Run the OS that emulates real behavior of network hardware.


2.       Test 20+ different network vendors in risk-free virtual environment. Quickly run and test multiple hardware vendors without the need for hardware.


3.       Create dynamic network maps for troubleshooting and proof of concept (POC) testing. Test your networks before you build them to reduce the time it takes to get a production network up and running.


4.       Connect GNS3 to any real network. Leverage your existing hardware and expand your current lab by connecting your GNS3 topologies directly to it.


5.       Customized topologies and labs within GNS3 for network certification training. GNS3 is the best study tool for aspiring network professional seeking their certifications, without the need for a home lab.


Requirements/Things needed to set up GNS3 and use it successfully

1.       The GNS3 software itself.

2.       The GNS3 IOS Router images for the routers

3.       The GNS3 IOU Router and Switch images

4.       Wireshark Software.

5.       Oracle VM Virtualbox.




STEP 1: Download the GNS3.


Download the correct version of GNS3 from www.gns3.com . Once on the website as shown below click on the link free download

You will be asked to sign in or create a new account if you don’t have one.

After filling all the required fields, click on the Create Account & Continue button as show below 

Next you are taken to the screen below which gives you a button or link to download GNS3. Click on the correct button, for example if you are using a Windows machine click on the button under the Windows word and logo for you to download the latest version of GNS3.

Then you are brought this screen which thanks you for downloading GNS3 and GNS3 starts to download automatically as show below. In this case I am using IDM. Whichever way you are using to download the software, give permission to download as per this example I just click Start Download for the software to start downloading.


For those of us having machines running 32-bit based Operating Systems, the best and highest version of GNS3 that you can use if using a 32-bit machine is 1.3.13 and that is what we are going to download and is what I will be using do demo these LABs.



Go to Google and type “GNS3 1.3.13 download” as shown below.

From the above list, select the third option “Releases · GNS3/gns3-gui · GitHub” wherever it may appear. Scroll down until you meet the Next button and then press it to go to the next page. Do that several times until you reach the page where GNS3 Version 1.3.13 is as show below.

In this page, there are two thing we are going to download

1.       The file GNS3-1.3.13-all-in-one.exe

2.       And the file GNS3.IOU.VM.ova


We are going to need these files in the steps that are ahead. Click each of these files to download them. We are going to use each of these files shortly.




The company Cisco systems sells physical equipment such as routers and for you to use them, they license the software that runs on them. As such there is no specific area that you can download the router images that we need to make GNS3 work.


But there is hope, for both IOS and IOU router images are available online and I could kindly ask you to use your search skills on the internet to get these router images for GNS3. Use the keywords such as “GNS3 IOS Router Images” and also search “GNS3 IOU Router Images” and then download the appropriate images. If you need help on the same, don’t hesitate to ask. For me this is what I have.




 These three files are: One for the Switch (L2), the other for the Router (L3) and the last file is the license file without which the GNS3 IOU will not work on GNS3.


When it comes to GNS3 IOS Router Images shown above, I have two router images for the Cisco 7200 series router, one router image for the 3745 router and the last router image for 2691 router.


But in this demonstration, I am going to use the router image “c7200-spservicesk9-mz.150-1.M.image” on the 7200 series router found on the GNS3.



To a larger extent, the GNS IOU server that will be running in the Oracle VM Virtualbox will present us with the best option to run our labs. The GNS3 IOU VM that we downloaded earlier will be running in Oracle’s Virtualbox and will act as the GNS3 Server as we will show you shortly.



To download Oracle VM Virtualbox, go to your browsers and type, www.virtualbox.org and enter. You will be presented with this page.

From experience, the latest versions of Virtualbox don’t work at all with the GNS3 server that we want to configure it with. The best version of oracle Virtualbox for our GNS3 is “VirtualBox-4.3.40-110317-Win”. To get to this file, click on the Download link on you left hand navigational pane and you will be directed to the following page. Scroll down until you reach the title “VirtualBox older builds” as shown below.

Click on the link “VirtualBox older builds” (appearing in blue color) and then you will be taken to the following page.

Click on the link “VirtualBox 4.3” in the above figure and you will be taken to the following page.

Under “VirtualBox 4.3.40 (released August 22nd 2016)” choose the first option which is “Windows hosts  x86/AMD64” and click it. You will be prompted to download the file that we need. Give/allow the necessary permissions to download the file.


Since now we have all the files required, it is time for us to start installing all these applications and set our LAB.






Go to the folder where you downloaded GNS3 1.3.13 and double-click the .exe file.

After double-clicking on the application you get the following:

Click Next to continue.

Click “I Agree” to continue.

Click Next to continue.

Click Next to continue.

Click Install to continue.



The installation will now start and different applications will be installed along the way as show in the case below where Wincap and wireshark are being installed.

Click, all the Next prompts that you will be asked until you click on the install button to install WinPcap.



After WinPcap has installed successfully, Wireshark will begin to download as shown below if you don’t have it already in your machine.

After Wireshark has downloaded successfully, you are prompted to install it as shown below.

Click, all the Next  prompts that you will be asked until you click on the install button to install Wireshark.



After Wireshark has finished installing, click the final Next and Finish to install to continue with the rest of the installation.

GNS3 is now installing

After GNS3 has finished installing click Next to complete the installation. 

After you click next, you are brought to this page



Select the “No” bullet and then click Next. After you click Next you are presented with the following final prompt to tell you that you have finished installing GNS3.



Just click on the button “Finish” to launch GNS3.


And Yes, This is it. This is GNS3 in all its’ Glory. This is it for now. Let us install other programs first before we come to configure it.




Now it is time to install Oracle VirtualBox. Go to the folder where you saved VirtualBox and double-click it to install.


Click Next, Agree, Yes and Install where necessary until the application start installing.

The installation now goes on.


After the installation has completed you will be presented with the following screen.


Click Finish to start Oracle VM VirtualBox.

The following screen is the initial screen of Oracle VM VirtualBox after installation.



Go to the folder where you downloaded the file GNS3.IOU.VM which is the GNS3 IOU Virtual Machine (VM) file that we are going to import to Oracle VM Virtualbox, and locate it (Know where it is located)



Now go to the Oracle VM VirtualBox and click on the “File” Menu on the Top Left of the Application as show below and then click on “Import Appliance”.

You are taken to a apge where you are required to choose the virtual appliance to install. In our case is GNS3 IOU VM.


Click on the small folder icon and choose the location of the GNS3.IOU.VM file that we had downloaded and select the file.


Click Open and you are presented with the following screen.


Click Next to continue.


At this juncture, you can edit the Virtual Machine as shown below. For example, the base RAM configured here is 2048 MB, if you computer’s RAM is 3GB, 2GB or less edit the RAM to take 1GB RAM if your RAM is above 3GB. For my machine I have configured 1GB RAM.


After editing, Click “Import”.


After the import is complete, this screen appears.



Now it is time to start our GNS3 Virtual Machine. On the top left of the application, click on the arrow button Start. And the GNS3 Virtual Machine starts as shown below.


Initially when you have imported the GNS3 VM and started it, you may be presented with following error, but don’t panic, it is OK, just click the button which says “Change Network Settings” to continue with starting. After GNS3 VM has finished booting, you are presented with the following Command Line Interface (CLI) with the address that we will use to upload router and switch Images as well as the license key/file into the GNS3 Server.



Now go to your favorite/any browser and type in the above address i.e and the following screen appears.


Now let us start uploading GNS3 IOU Router Images to this server. The first two files are “File Type” = IOU. Now we just have to click on the “Choose File” button and go to the location where you have your IOU router images and choose our first Cisco IOU Router Image as shown below. The first file we have chosen is “i86bi-linux-l2-adventerprisek9-15.1a.bin”.


Click Open to select the File. Next you are presented with this screen.


Click on upload to upload the file. After the upload is complete, this is what you will see.


Do the same thing for the file for simulating routers which is “i86bi-linux-l3-adventerprisek9-15.4.1T.bin”. The process is the same.


But when it comes to the license file (“iourc.txt”), remember to change the file type to “IOU License (iourc)” and then select the license file and upload it as follows.


This is what it looks after all the files have been uploaded.

We are now done with the GNS3 Server but don’t switch it off yet. We need it to be on as we configure other aspects of GNS3.






Start the GNS3 application. When asked to save the topology, click cancel because we have not yet set the routers for us to use.


Setting Up Cisco IOS Router

On the top left menu, click Edit > Preferences and you are taken to this screen.


Click on the Server and the on the top click “Remote Server”.



Click on Add to add the server (Host:, Port:8000TCP)


Click on the IOS routers under Dynamips > New >


Browse to the folder where you saved the Cisco router image, in this case “c7200-spservicesk9-mz.150-1.M”. And then click next.


Click Next,


Click Next.


On this page you can choose what modules to place on each slot. For the sake of our LAB, we are going to use the “PA-2FE-TX” which contains 2 Fast Ethernet ports.


Click Next to go to the Next Page.



Click on the “Idle-PC Finder” for GNS3 to automatically find the Idle PC value as shown below


Click Finish to finish the set up. After you click the Finish button you are presented with this screen.


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