CCNA Exam Information and Overview [Updated 2021]

February 16, 2021 by Laszlo Szijjarto


So you decided to get the CCNA certification. Congratulations, it’s a good idea! Before you start your studies, however, it’s good to know the exact requirements for the exam. 

This article will help you to get more information about that: the format, the passing score, the cost and where you can take this exam.

How many questions are on the CCNA certification exam?

The duration of the CCNA 200-301 exam is 120 minutes and you can expect about 100-120 questions. It means that you don’t have too much time to think, just around one minute per question. It can be a bit frightening at first sight, but there are a lot of questions that take less time for you. Give enough time to read the questions carefully though to avoid misunderstanding!

How long do you have to complete the CCNA exam?

As we said before, you don’t have too much time per question for the answer. If you’ve done tests before, you may have used the trick of answering the easier questions first. This gives you self-confidence and maybe even enough points to pass. 

Unfortunately, this trick doesn’t work in this certification exam because you don’t have permission to go back to previous questions. When you click on the “Next” button, your answer is recorded and it doesn’t allow you to correct or browse among the questions later.

What is the format of the questions on the CCNA exam?

On the Cisco exams, you can expect questions from the following types: 

  • Multiple choice (single and multiple answers)
  • Drag-and-drop 
  • Fill-in-the-blank
  • Simulation
  • Simlet
  • Testlet

The majority of the questions are the usual single- or multiple-choice types. In the latter case, they tell you how many good answers there are, and it’s advisable not to mark more than that. You may be familiar with the drag-and-drop and fill-in-the-blank types also. 

If the latter three types are new to you, first we suggest you to view the exam tutorial videos here. A brief overview of each type:

  • In the Simulation type, you need to configure some network device — probably by the CLI or the GUI. 
  • Testlet questions are typically presented as a group of questions. These questions are all based on a common scenario or network topology. You’ll get some command output which helps you to solve the problem. Here, you can jump back and forth among the questions, but if you close the Testlet, you can’t go back. 
  • Simlet questions are basically a combination of a simulation and a Testlet. You will also get a set of questions that are based on a common scenario or network topology. But you’re not provided any command output, instead, you must interact with the network devices and issue the proper commands to be able to answer the questions correctly.

Where do I take the CCNA exam? How often are the exams scheduled?

You have to take your exam at a Pearson VUE test center after you schedule one. You’ll need to create a Pearson account in order to get information about the places and exam times. Select Proctored exams, then CCNA, then code 200-301. The exam languages available are English and Japanese. 

A new option allows you to take the exam at a local test center or at a home or office. In the latter case, there are also security precautions; you’ll need to agree to the online exam policies. You can read more about that here.

When you schedule the exam on the Pearson VUE page, you can select from a list. Test centers usually operate during regular business hours, so you can’t just pick any time. However, some centers may have evening or weekend appointments available. Pay attention to the correct date, time and time zone when you take your exam at a distant location. 

What score do I need to pass the CCNA exam?

According to Cisco, passing scores are not published because “exam questions and passing scores are subject to change without notice.” Although the passing score is not specified exactly, it’s about 800-850 points out of 1000. It is true that the time is longer than on the old exams (now it’s 120 minutes), but the number of questions is also higher. So you need to manage your time well. 

How is the exam scored? Cisco uses a point scaling system, on a scale of 300 to 1,000. Once you start the exam, you automatically have 300 points; as you answer questions correctly, your points increase. Of course, the fact that you do not know how questions are weighted means you should try your best to answer as many questions correctly as possible.

How long do I have to wait if I don’t pass the CCNA exam the first time?

The policies dictate that you cannot retake the same exam in five calendar days, beginning with the day after the failed attempt. Online exam takers must wait 48 hours for this. For example, if a candidate fails on a Wednesday, the five-day count will start from Thursday and run till (end of) Monday. Therefore, that candidate can retake the exam on Tuesday.

There is also a policy for a successful exam: you cannot take the same exam within 180 days if you pass. Note that you will need to pay your certification/exam fee again.

What is the price of the CCNA exam?

The exam price depends on the country you live in. You can see the exact actual prices here. Search the dropdown in the middle of the page and select your country. 

For example, the actual fee in the US is $300, but it’s subject to change. However, if you have a voucher, you won’t pay as much. For example, if you attend a regular NetAcad course and pass your final exam with at least 70% on your first attempt, you’ll get a voucher. The discount may vary. Remember that the vouchers are valid only for a limited period of time.

Posted: February 16, 2021


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Articles Author
Laszlo Szijjarto
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Laszlo Szijjarto is a mechanical engineer and teacher of informatics. He graduated from the Technical University of Budapest in 1995 and after a short period of working in the field of logistics, he taught CAD systems and general IT in a secondary school. In 2003 he started teaching in the Cisco Networking Academy and currently teaches computer networks exclusively. Mr. Szijjarto has his CCNA and CCNA Security certifications and is a certified Cisco Instructor Trainer as well.