In these austere times many CCNA candidates are looking to earn their certificates with minimal financial outlay. While it is possible to learn the required materials by just reading a textbook, you will find that not everything you read will be committed to memory. Learning in this way will not help you when you come to put your skills into practice in real life.
Everyone is different when it comes to learning, some prefer structured classroom lessons, while others have the self-discipline to learn on their own at home. If you have the power to buy and book and learn the course yourself, this is the most cost-effective way of obtaining a CCNA, but it is not for everyone, especially if you are completely new to networking. There are plenty of other ways to learn the course material such as CCNA bootcamps, Cisco's own NetAcad distance training course, your local college or university or even an online bootcamp. If you are new to networking it might benefit you have a tutor to answer your questions, plus you'll also be around other CCNA students.
Whatever method of learning you choose you will need to reinvigorate the knowledge you have learned in order to activate your long term memory. The best way of doing this is to use flash cards and practice tests through your learning, not just by cramming a few days before the exam.
Most CCNA candidates find that a good CCNA prep kit helps them achieve success and I advise that you should use one too. Typical certification prep kits include:
Flash cards – These are used to help you memorize and associate facts and figures, used frequently these will help you remember the key pieces of information you require for the CCNA exam.
Practice questions – These are there to help you test your knowledge in simulated exam conditions against the clock, they will help you figure out your weaknesses and there before what you need to concentrate on.
Finally, your IOS commands and configuration skills need to be spot on to pass the CCNA exam. You really need to know your way around a router's command interface and reading a book is not a substitution. Ideally you should buy a couple of Cisco routers and Cisco switches and set-up your own lab, but for many people a router simulator works just as well, is a whole lot cheaper, and you can be up and running in no time at all .
Good luck in your CCNA studies!