I just finished testing for my Cisco Certified Network Associate certification. I passed with a 973 out of 1000. The test was 90 minutes long and I finished with only 8 minutes to spare. I think I missed one question, maybe two. The exam was as tough as I expected, meaning it was not easy. I know it was difficult since I usually breeze through majority multiple-choice exams. (For example, I answered all 250 questions on the CISSP exam in 90 minutes, and walked out the door.)
cannot say enough about the CCNA class I took with Todd Lammle at GlobalNet Training. He was not kidding when he said students need to know everything he writes in his slides and says while teaching. I was amazed how much of my knowledge Cisco managed to test with a 55 question exam. Also, if I did not know Todd's block size method of IP subnetting, I do not think I would have finished the test in time.
If you want to pass the CCNA, I recommend the following:
1. Take GlobalNet Training's CCNA class. I do not think you will find another training source who provides as much gear for each student to configure. The labs are first-rate.
2. Read Todd's book.
3. Practice using Todd's CertSim software. This was invaluable because it taught me to slow down and be more careful. I learned this lesson even though I only had a chance to use the software once, 2 hours before my test. I blazed through the simulation and scored only a 749 -- 100 points too low to pass! I vowed to be more careful on the real exam, and it payed off.
4. Practice configuring real Cisco gear, and use Todd's RouterSim Network Visualized software. I did not get a chance to play with this much outside of class, but it's a great way to build, configure, and test Cisco gear in a virtual environment.
5. For deeper knowledge, check out Alex Zinin's book.
Later this year I plan to start working towards the CCNP.