My thoughts on the CCNA Security (210-260) exam

After having posted a few days ago that I recently passed Cisco's CCNA Security exam (i.e. IINS: Implementing Cisco Network Security) some people have asked me to compare the experience of having taken that test...against the CCNA Routing-and-Switch exam.

Without breaking any Cisco Non-Disclosure agreements, here is what I can tell you:

Similarities: 

  • Both exams require that you pass two tests. Both require passing the ICND1 exam as a prerequisite and then a second test (either ICND2 for R&S...or the IINS for Security).
  • Both exams were composed primarily of multiple-choice questions.
  • Both exams require that you complete the exam within 90-minutes.
  • Both exams had some questions that (in my opinion) were worded poorly. In other words, questions with only a single "correct" answer and yet more-than-one answer could technically have been correct. In my opinion, there were more of these poorly-worded questions in the CCNA Security exam than I found in the CCNA R&S (ICND2) exam.

Differences:

  • CCNA R&S (ICND2) had far more Simulation (i.e. "Configure the protocol/feature") questions than what I experienced on the IINS (210-260) exam.
  • CCNA R&S (ICND2) had more emphasis on testing your knowledge of actual configuration-and-troubleshooting of IOS-based commands than the CCNA Security exam.
  • CCNA Security had far more emphasis on knowledge of theory and protocol differences than actual configuration than the CCNA R&S exam (ICND2). Very few questions concerned knowledge of actual Cisco IOS commands or navigation of ASDM (or other GUIs).
  • The "Testlet" question(s) I saw on the CCNA Security exam (210-260) were much more difficult (i.e. navigating the User Interface as well as time-required to answer the questions) than Testlet questions I have experience on the CCNA R&S (ICND2) exam.
  • My experience with the CCNA R&S exam (ICND2) is that the Cisco Press Official Certification Guide contains all the information you need to pass that exam.
  • My experience with the CCNA Security exam (IINS) is that the Cisco Press Official Certification Guide contains roughly 85% of the information you need to pass that exam. The remaining 15% must be located elsewhere ("31-days before your CCNA Security Exam" is a great book for picking up most of the remaining 15%).
  • There are more questions on the CCNA Security exam (I received 67-questions) than what I had to answer on the CCNA R&S (ICND2) exam (typically around 50-55 questions).
  • You need a higher score to pass the CCNA Security exam (my exam required a minimum of 860 out of 1000 to pass) than what I've seen on the CCNA R&S Exam (ICND2...which required somewhere between 810-830 out-of-1000 to pass).
  • The CCNA R&S focuses primarily on protocols/features found mostly at Layer-2 and Layer-3 of the OSI model.
  • The CCNA Security focuses primarily on protocols/features found mostly at Layers-4 through 7 of the OSI model.

Hope that helps everyone!

Keith

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