Top Cisco Certification Books

What books will help you with your Cisco certification? Here are some top picks for CCNP, CCIE, and CCNA study guides.

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1. CCIE Practical Studies, Vol. 1 Karl Solie

CCIE Practical Studies, Vol. 1
With a focus on the lab portion of the exam, this book provides in-depth study and exercises for the CCIE Routing and Switching Lab Exam. It includes 37 lab scenarios and 5 practice labs, to test your knowledge and ability to perform in a timed environment.

Customer Reviews from

By emmanuel oppong (Silicon Valley)  Excellent CCIE Lab Prep

I have used several ccie lab preps and books but have never come across anything as good as this one. I just wish it had come out a few months earlier, so I would have more time to pratice the labs. The book is jam packed with numerious exercises and several ccie day-one-type labs at the end of the book for practicing the real lab.

There are diagrams for every exercise and scenario. This book certainly makses Caslow’s obsolite and threatens the the businesses that have sprang up selling ccie labs. The down side of the book is, this is vol 1 and doesn’t have IPX, BGP, IS-IS, IPSec, and Multicast which the author says will be in vol 2. Also the solutions for the labs at the end of the book can be downloaded from a Cisco site. I think this should have been on a CD and included with the book. I can’t even find the solutions on Cisco site; it is probably not postered yet. The price is steep, but compared to what is out there, it is worth every penny.

By Jean Maurice MEREL To focus on exam – CCIE # 9285

It was my main book to prepare the exam. It is well focused on exam. It includes some fast and good therorical parts. During the exam you need to be fast. You get speed with confidence in your knwoledge and practice. The book help you very much in that sense because it gives you a method with the main steps, the traps you’ll face and the main show and debug command. It offers nice and sophisticated exercises and labs. A very good way to check your level and practice “translation” of an instruction into a configuration.

Does not include QOS, IPX, BGP but on those we already have the CD and good books. For those not familiar with Cisco Voice and ATM, it gives exactly what we need for the exam. With or without it, it requires work and practice. With some luck, I passed on the first time.

Guide Rating: five stars


2. Cisco CCNP Certification Library Cisco Press

Cisco CCNP Certification Library

“You get four comprehensive review and practice books, plenty of review questions and real-world scenarios, plus four CD-ROMs containing realistic sample exams — all written by CCIEs and reviewed thoroughly by Cisco’s own experts. The books cover all four CCNP exams: routing, switching, remote access, and support. From managing growth to troubleshooting campus networks, configuring PPP to deploying multicast, it’s here — authoritative and complete.” -Barnes&Noble Editors

Customer Reviews from

By Rus Healy (Canadice, New York)  Excellent

Once you have achieved the CCNA certification, your natural path points toward the Cisco Certified Network Professional certification. This title from Cisco Press is a set consisting of one book for each of the four exams specific to the CCNP certification. This set includes the following books:

–CCNP BSCI Exam Certification Guide, Third Edition, by Claire Gough
–CCNP BCMSN Exam Certification Guide, by David Hucaby
–CCNP BCRAN Exam Certification Guide, Second Edition, by Brian Morgan and Craig Dennis
–CCNP CIT Exam Certification Guide, Second Edition, by Amir S. Ranjbar

This set, covering diverse topics in significant detail, is an excellent CCNP preparation tool. The material in the books focuses on Cisco’s published objectives for the CCNP exams, and covers them well. The longest and most unique book in this collection is the volume on routing (BSCI). It’s structured to cover the objectives for the 642-801 exam using several tools common to all the books in the set-namely detailed but highly readable text, graphical, tabular, and router configuration examples, Q&A and “Do I Know This Already?” quizzes, and the bundled CDROM. The graphics are first-rate and illustrate key concepts clearly.

What sets the BSCI book apart from the others in the set, and other Cisco Press books I’ve read, is the series of lab exercises at the end of each chapter. The BSCI labs provide comprehensive scenarios that take in all the concepts taught in each chapter, in step-by-step form. Answers are provided following each example so that you can check your work. This book is particularly well-suited to self-study. This level of detail and the inclusion of labs is key, since in my opinion, the CCNP routing exam (642-801) is the most difficult one in all of Cisco’s Professional-level certifications. It’s appropriate that the routing book, at 950 pages, contains about a third of the pages of the entire set!

The labs in the routing book cover concepts that Cisco hits hard on the exam questions and simulations, including OSPF, BGP and IS-IS. You’ll need a fair amount of Cisco equipment to do the lab work, but it’s obtainable on-line and is worth the investment if you want to do well on the exams and really understand the topics. For a book of this size, the routing text is remarkably consistent and error-free. Although I found a few minor errors here and there, the book is well-suited to self-study-in part because it is so accurate. The overall structure and content of this book make it the strongest learning tool I’ve seen for the BSCI exam.

Although the other three books in the set don’t include this comprehensive level of configuration exercises, they do provide some scenario-based material to reinforce concepts.

All the texts are good for instructor-led training, or as a text for web-based training. Although the other three books are all significantly shorter than the routing text, they share many of the excellent traits that makes this set such a strong preparation tool for the CCNP certification exams. I tried to use Exam Cram 2 texts in addition to this Cisco Press set while preparing for the BSCI and BCMSN exams, and quickly found that the Cisco Press set offers by far the clearest, most easily digested, error-free and relevant information.

Each book in this set comes with a CD that contains a high-quality practice exam engine (sourced by Boson), as well as the PDF text of the book and some sample material from other Cisco Press titles. I found the CDs very useful-especially the test engines, since a key part of studying for certification exams that are as difficult as Cisco’s CCNP exams is assessing what you’ve learned and how well you can apply it. The self-tests include questions of each type that appear on the exams, including basic simulation-type questions that are probably best called scenarios; they don’t have the look and feel of an actual router or switch interface during configuration, as the exams do. They do, however, show you clearly whether you understand the command syntax and topics being covered. The practice test questions are harder and less forgiving, overall, than what’s on the exams. I found that if I could make 75% or better on the sample tests, my scores were significantly better on the CCNP exams.

The weakest book in this set is the CIT text, which sticks strictly to Cisco’s published objectives for the exam. As such, it’s a bit simplistic and doesn’t exercise your mind much when it comes to troubleshooting for results-it’s oriented toward procedure rather than outcome. The author lets you know to expect this going in, and I appreciated his honesty. The three scenarios offered at the end of the book are rather weak; I was hoping for substantial troubleshooting exercises. But all of the topics on the CIT exam are fully covered in this book.

The BCMSN and BCRAN books are both excellent long-term references, along with the BSCI text, and cover not only the core topics of the exams but also a lot of information useful to networking people after the exams are distant memories. This trait is the core strength of this set. The layout, graphics, quality writing and editing, and extra learning tools make for an outstanding value. Overall, I can’t recommend this set highly enough. The highly motivated learner will find everything in this set that’s needed to pass the CCNP exams. That said, however, it is important to have either professional experience, a set of readily available routers and switches, or both, to make it over the CCNP hurdles.

These books have a prominent place on my bookshelf at work and at home. I have two sets because I think the books are that good. Anyone interested in networking at the geek level of detail will be well-served by this set.

Guide Rating: five stars


3. CCNA Practical Studies Gary Heap & Lynn Maynes

CCNA Practical Studies

With over 500 pages of lessons and information, this is a useful study guide for the new 640-607 exam. It offers hands-on networking lab scenarios to give you the best learning tool with which to gain the knowledge you need to pass the CCNA exam. A practice exam on CD would have won this a five star rating.

Customer Reviews from

By Michael J Woznicki “Michael J Woznicki” (Holland, MA USA) Make a few updates and this is a great book

I have always wished that there was some sort of lab manual for the Cisco Press books that would allow the student to be able to work with real world examples. Now with the release of Practical Studies you have a handy study companion to work with.

The 500 page book is more than just an ad-on reference manual it is a useful study tool for the new 640-607 exam. The authors went to a great deal of time and effort to make sure all exam objectives were covered and the material up to date and technically accurate.

One thing I was impressed with is that this book fits right into any ICND training course because not only does it cover the exam it provide information for other CCNP exams as well. The breakdown examples use actual router code and show you what is happening throughout the examples.

While this manual is for the intermediate to advanced user the material is tailored made for those ready to take the exam but need just a little more help. One drawback is that you… Read more

Guide Rating:four stars


4. CCNP: Cisco Certified Network Professional Exam Notes Todd Lammle

CCNP Cisco Certified Network Professional
This book covers all of the information to pass the four CCNP certification exams. It provides detailed analysis of all exam objectives and the CD includes an electronic version of the book, 4 sample exams, and 200 electronic flashcards.

Customer Reviews from

By HERSH BHATT Excellent to help u towards passing the CCNP

Trying to attain the CCNP and CCDP certification is my goal for the career. I have been working at this for over a year now and found several good books on the subject matter. Todd Lammle’s CCNP Exam Notes is certainly making life easier and the studying is going great.

While this book is not the end all for the four Cisco CCNP exams, the book does break down each exam objective and give an overview of what you need to know. This is an excellent reference book to coincide with the actual study guides. I have also used this book in the CCNA classes I teach.

Part 1 of the book breaks down routing, from IP addressing to OSPF in a single and multiple area to EIRGP and BGP and route summarization. Also covered is classless and classful routing and differences between RIP1 and RIP 2.

Part 2 is switching with topics like VLANS, STA, STP, Inter-Vlan routing, multi=layer switching, multicasting. Part 3 covers the remote access exam with topics like WAN components, connection types, what connection works in what situation, authentication with PAP and CHAP as well as ISDN and DDR.

Other topics covers in this section include Frame Relay, PVC and SVC, setting up DLCI, X.25 , NAT and PAT. Finally Part 4 Support; with IOS troubleshooting commands, troubleshooting areas like TCP/IP, AppleTalk, Serial links, ISDN, IPX and switches.

The cd-rom included has 4 practice tests, 1 for each exam and over 200 flash cards which can be used on a pc or with a palm device as well as e-version of the book. Over all the price is small compared to the amount of information included. Todd Lammle is certainly proving why more people turn to his books than any others out there today.

Guide Rating: four stars


5. Cisco CCNA Exam #640-607 Flash Card Practice Kit Eric Rivard

Cisco CCNA Exam #640-607 Flash Card Practice Kit

“This unique kit offers more than 350 CCNA test prep questions in physical, PC, or handheld formats as well as a 500-question test bank that tests a candidate’s profiency. Designed for anyone looking to get an extra edge on the Cisco Certification Exams, these cards are a great supplement to the basic CCNA cirriculum.” -Barnes&Noble Editors

Customer Reviews from

By M. Dawson (SF, CA United States) Good but BROKEN

A good tool to help in the questions it asks.

The test engine is broken however. It has multiple choice buttons where you clearly need to select more than one answer, yet can only choose one. Some questions are totally wrong, so verify each wrong answer you get from the test engine before you count it or commit it to memory for the CCNA.

It is good in helping you understand the type of questions you will encounter, from CLI, to move boxes around, to type out the answers. (Spelling does count and I have been told it does on the CCNA as well.) The fact that if you type “router” and it wants “routers” is just wrong and messed up. Many questions have been missed because I typed “Spanning-tree” and it wanted “Spanning-tree protocol”. Note it will not take STP either. IMHO: A serious flaw in Cisco’s testing and this flash card kit. One note I recommend. Hand Write all your flash cards. Don’t rely on the print outs. You will have better retention.

For the money, it is worth a buy. It is helpful in orienting you to the new 607 test format. If nothing else, it forces you to double check your wrong answers. Just don’t count on it to be totally accurate and don’t let it’s flawed low test scores discourage you.

Guide Rating:3 stars


6. Cisco CCNA Exam #640-607 Certification Guide Wendell Odom

Cisco CCNA Exam #640-607 Certification Guide

“Odom has designed the book to offer two learning pathways: one for readers “who need a thorough background before their final study time”; the other for readers who are “reviewing and filling in the missing parts of their CCNA knowledge. Well organized, easy to understand, and respectful of your time, CCNA Exam Certification Guide, Third Edition is worthy of the Cisco logo it bears.” -Barnes&Noble Editors

Customer Reviews from

By “bcurry7895” (Chicago, IL USA) Not for starter in Cisco, wrong answers on CD test questions

As mentioned by some other readers that this book is not for beginners. The author take the start from directly the cisco operating system instead of first building the ground for a new commer to understand the networks, its topologies and some other terms. Some of the chapters are explained very well like ‘OSI Data Link Layer Functions’, ‘LANs Bridges and Switches’, ‘Spanning Trees, VLANs and Trunking’. Most of the time author goes in so much details that at least at a CCNA level you don’t need it.

Another big issue is the test questions on the CD. There are many questions with wrong answers. For example correct answers shows for one of the questions is “line-vty 0 4”. Infact there is no command in Cisco IOS with the dash in between ‘Line’ and ‘vty’. The correct answer ‘line vty 0 4’ also listed in the options for the same questions but when you click on the button to show the right answers it will select the wrong one and score you on the same. There are issues with the drag and drop items. You drop the items correctly, you saw them that they are correct by clicking the button to see the result, yet when you complete the test the result shows that you never selected the answer rather you skipped the question. The test engine has certain issues that will not give the student the right score. There are spelling mistakes on the question. Another question that asks that how many bits in node section of the IPX has all the options listed for Apple Talk protocol. None of the options for this questions can bs seleceted for IPX. These are only the few I mentioned and I am sure that there are many more.

The reader who said that he teahces the classes for Cisco and the CD is excellent has to review it before writing any comments and misleading the new reader.

If you need to pass the exam you need to get two books. This book and Sybex book written by Todd lammle for CCNA. Read the material that you think you can digest from it and read the rest from another book.

Guide Rating:3 stars


More Notes: Best Path for Getting Your CCNA Certification

Core Topics Covered on the CCNA Exam

Tutorial for CCNA Certification: Talking About Switch Port Security

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